Review: Dream Houses.
DON'T WAIT TILL YOU RENOVATE! The time to see David Ralph’s EXTENSIONS is
NOW! In every painting, you'll discover inspirational success stories. See dramatic
before and after pictures of projects large and small. From simple treehouse re-dos to complex museum add-ons and chalet facelifts, and more! David Ralph’s modest show in Arc One’s second gallery space is a small triumph of imagery and painting. The bizarre scenes of unlikely architectural extensions are fascinating enough but his virtuosic use of paint is for me the real subject of this show. Ralph’s broad vocabulary of mark making from soft moody blended backgrounds to thick swathes of impasto and even scratches that go right back to the canvas are extensions of painting itself.
Merely describing the things Ralph depicts would fail to convey the presence of these works. For example, Juggernaut shows a rudimentary treehouse with a blurred image in the doorway (the empire state building?), an upside down Duchampian urinal and city lights in the background. What does all that add up to? I have no idea, but the overall effect is so exciting and unexpected that it rouses me to wonder what it could mean... could it be the Central Park nest of a homeless art collector?
Bohemian Rocket Science reveals another shabby arboreal domicile this time with the addition of a space shuttle. The pointed treehouse roof is echoed and magnified by the shuttle’s nose cone and booster rockets and the resulting image aspires to represent a post-apocalyptic Chatres. Ralph’s muted palette, sparse brush strokes and subtle use of drips collude to produce an air of North European winter. The end product is a curious evolutionary take on Caspar David Friedrich’s forest churches.
A Chalet near Tokyo and the charmingly titled Harry Potter and the New Museum Extension are further examples of the peculiarity of David Ralph’s imagination and his command over the plasticity of paint.
You can spend some time looking at these paintings, the detail slowly reveals more and more of itself to you as you stand there wondering whether a treehouse dreamt it was a museum or a museum dreamt it was a tree.
David Ralph: Extensions is on at Arc One Gallery 45 Flinders Lane Melbourne 25 August - 19 September