Critics’ Picks

Lewis Fidock, Brain, 2016, cast rubber, pigmented resin, printed plastic, acrylic paint, spray paint, cobwebs, mold, varnish, araldite, dimensions variable.


Lewis Fidock

4/111 Macleay Street Potts Point
September 16–October 22

In its persuasive mix of poetic imagery and realist methodologies, Lewis Fidock’s first solo exhibition at this gallery cannot help but invoke the legacy of Surrealism—and, in particular, the movement’s capacity to be reinvented with each generation. The centerpiece here is a small and enigmatic sculpture, Brain (all works 2016), comprising five legs of a rubber octopus that have emerged from an L-shaped trough, as if seeking traction on the gallery floor. The work, replete with fake water and real cobwebs, resembles an object from an amusement park while also recalling the films of Jean Painlevé, whose studies of octopi and sea horses connected the Surrealists’ fondness for the uncanny to the wonders of the natural sciences. Given its loaded title, Brain might function, paradoxically, as a visual metaphor for the artist’s antididactic approach to art—a Surrealist archetype exalting blind and intuitive artistic exploration. In contrast, Fidock’s surrounding sculptural works, Muscle, Middle Child, and Rover, were constructed through close formal observation, each one a scaled-down replica of a different easel—one found discarded, one still in use at an art school in Melbourne, and one belonging to an artist friend—delicately re-creating all their incidental blobs and splashes of paint.

Although thematically connected to the medium of painting, the three easel works are steeped in the language of sculpture; their change of scale heightens their anthropomorphic qualities, and each faces directly toward Brain as if engaged in a mind-body stare-down. At once bold and understated, Fidock’s exhibition conveys an acute sensitivity to the relation between observation and imagination—and between order and disorder—drawing attention to small details in order to amplify an ambiguous bigger picture.