2nd July - 25th July 2009
Picasso himself was quoted as saying "all paintings are self portraits". What Kibel has painted are a series of large heads strongly reminiscent of Picasso, faintly resembling the man, and then again faintly resembling Kibel himself. These are strong works. There is an emphasis on formal qualities of composition and colour which are handled with skill and subtlety.
Picasso looms over the 20th century like a giant and also like a joke. His achievements were important, though he was arguably not the most important innovator of the 20th century. However he is arguably the most significant archetype for the mythical heroic 20th century artist. Who hasn't occasionally daydreamed about paying for meals with a scrawl on a napkin?
This is no hubristic act of self idolisation though. Kibel seems to claim identification with Picasso only though an identification with the myth of heroic genius - something all artists must do to some extent. Kibel is not suggesting here that he is an heroic genius, but an almost self-deprecating acknowledgement of the deceit involved in building up the self-belief to produce new paintings. All artists must oscillate between an overweening self confidence and a debilitating doubt.
This acknowledgment is underscored by the working and reworking of the image throughout the show and within each painting. Techniques are tried - spraying, impasto, thin glazes, hard edged masking - painted out then repainted. The canvases themselves seem to be have been torn apart and restitched. There is no certainty, no sure answer, no heroic breakthrough moment. Only persistence
Kibel seems to be asking "do artists have to reinvent themselves each time they enter the studio?" The only possible answer is "perhaps".

By Sam Leach

Sam Leach

Leach is an artist living and working in Melbourne. He was born in Adelaide in 1973 and moved to Melbourne in the early 90s. Leach completed his honours degree in painting at RMIT in 2004 and is currently doing his masters. In 2006 Leach won the Metro5 prize and the Geelong contemporary art prize. This year he was a finalist in the Archibald. Leach shows at Nellie Castan gallery in Melbourne (show coming up in June) and Sullivan and Strumpf gallery in Sydney