It’s easy to get lost in the never-ending search for underlying meaning in art. Sometimes we need reminding that art is something that doesn’t necessarily need to be scrutinised to be appreciated. Sometimes its okay to enjoy art for the sake of art.
The Oxford Hotel are proud supporters of the local Adelaide art community, hosting a unique event called Art Smash every second Wednesday and regularly inviting local artists to leave their unique mark on the walls. Artist in residence Dave Court joins forces with friends Kerri Wright, Henry Jock Walker and Tom Borgas to launch his exhibition titled ART YOU RECKON, which sees The Oxford Hotel transformed inside and out, all in celebration of art. Making it no secret that The Oxford wish their patrons to live and breathe art just as much as they do, offering them the hotel itself as a blank canvas.
ART YOU RECKON can be interpreted as synergistic chaos: at times it can become hard to distinguish whether an artwork is a collaborative piece, or whether it isn't, since all of the work seemingly meshed together whilst the installations were centralised around using the allocated space itself as their canvas (as opposed to using the actual canvas’ at times). But when you take a closer look, the work is in fact elegantly flowing and connecting around the room, guiding your eye along each piece of work and into different sections of the room, in a carefully crafted manor.
Patrons were given a warm welcome upon entering the revitalised dining area. Our senses were bombarded with eccentric pattern work and colouration, wrapping around and connecting different parts of the room, which allowed viewers to have alternative perspectives on the space. The mural done by Dave literally canvas' the entirety of the main entrance, distinctly marking his territory in nice contrast to the many other murals surrounding the rest of the dining area. When making your way upstairs to the function area, you're ushered up by a devilish mural from Kerri Wright along the stairway. Playfully taunting you as we made our way up to the main event, cleverly experimenting with the unusual space she was given and the perspective we view it in.
Dave and Henry ‘s collaborative installation managed to not only create an immersive and layered environment, but also successfully made the allocated space intrinsically interactive. Most importantly, however, the artwork was fun. I found myself having a good laugh when I walked into the room and saw that the only spaces that weren’t painted were the actual canvas’ themselves. It’s clear that the artists had a great time making the work, reminding us that this installation is very much process orientated; hiding conceptual symbolism behind audacious abstractions, forcing us to imagine how this sporadic work could have possibly been created.
It's appropriate to look at Dave’s work in this exhibition not only as self contained artworks, but also as a single installation. A true celebration of the creative process.
Walking into the next room over, we were greeted with the main bulk of Dave's solo work. If I had to choose one word to describe his work, it'd be bold. He fuses abstract concepts and imagery, toying with texture and space on not only the wooden panels themselves, but also the walls around them. He links together individual pieces which make up the whole artwork. Much like looking at each leaf on a tree separately, then taking a step back to look at the entire tree, realising that it's all interconnected. With daring use of strong and stimulating colours, pattern work and shape; one gets the feeling that in the context of ART YOU RECKON, the artwork is about the experience of creation, art for the sake of art if you will, rather than calculated interpretation and attempting to apply artistic theory.
It truly felt as though the stimulation from the artwork was rubbing off from the walls and onto the guests that evening. There’s just something about being in a building full of exuberant imagery which brings out the joy in people. The air in the hotel was buzzing with happy chatter, complimented nicely by the warm mood lighting and DJ spinning some fresh vinyl. It felt as though we were all part of an extended family, which in a sense is hypothetically true within the Adelaide art community. Meanwhile, Art Smash artists Henry Stentiford, Harriet Mckay and Harris Koutlakis were working hard on their pieces throughout the course of the night and finished just as things were wrapping up. Everyone was having a great laugh during the Art Smash bidding: Complete strangers were relaxed enough to tease each other with bids, going up by very little increments, daring anyone else to outbid them. Fortunately, none of the work got smashed in the end. Every piece was successfully sold, and to top it off there were drinks and canapes provided by the friendly staff of The Oxford Hotel. It was the perfect concoction for a harmonious and enjoyable evening.