Words by Samuel McDonough
Photos by Tahlia Svingos
I find my friend salivating before the window of Haigh’s Chocolate at the Grenfell Street entrance of Adelaide Arcade before we ascend the stairs to the gorgeous upper level on which the Peanut Gallery is located. Greeted first by a makeshift bar selling gin and tonics with complimentary lollies of the don’t-chop-the-dinosaur variety, the mood is free of pretension and inviting of fun, a vibe continued once you enter the gallery proper as your ears fill with electronic pop and your eyes fill with the colour of the illustrations.
The works of the six artists have been curated carefully by Kenez, mixing the various styles together in presentation and yet, for the most part at least, still attaining a discernable narrative. Most of the work is in bright pastel colours, with the subject matter being predominantly focused on the private bathroom and bedroom moments of a woman’s life, which is beautifully presented by the work of Adelaide’s own Ban She. The colour is balanced by the simple pen illustrations of Frances Cannon, whose rounded character explores the inner workings of one’s psyche, particularly self-talk of negativity and vulnerability. Cannon’s I Am Everything was a standout.
In truth, the narrative of the exhibition isn’t entirely coherent. While the anthropomorphic works of Tayla Broekman certainly fit the style of a lot of the other pieces, and were perfectly pleasant to look at, it was difficult to immediately recognise the importance of the depiction of a racoon with kanji script in advancing the mission to tear down the patriarchy. The style of French import Anna Wanda Gogusey’s works were far more brooding than the works of the others, and was rightly recognised and acknowledged by Kenez and placed on the far wall alone, not interspersed with other work like the others. While Gogusey’s work stands at odds with some the other pieces, I am thankful it was there to give the audience something upon which deeper meditation might be required.
The exhibition is one that gives immediate enjoyment to the audience. It could be argued that if you were presented with the works of only one artist, you might be forgiven for taking away about as much as you would from following their Instagram account. However Kenez’s efforts to put these works together achieves something greater than the sum of its parts, and seeing them in beautiful setting of the Peanut Gallery is certainly its own reward. And you can buy the prints right then and there, which I recommend you do quickly, the red stickers were rapidly popping up next to the works over the night.
Support the art and artists. Buy art. Do it.
BABLIENS is exhibiting from 21 April to 14 May at the Peanut Gallery in Adelaide Arcade.
Open Wed & Thu 11am - 5pm, Fri 11am - 7pm, Sat & Sun 12pm-4pm.