july 16, 2021 - Pica Di Valentina Giulia Schwab

Love in Bright Landscapes curated by Annika Kristensen opening 30 July at PICA

Los Angeles is the greatest City-on-the-Shore in the world; its only notable rival, in fact, is Rio de Janeiro … and its only rival in potential is, probably, Perth, Western Australia.” – Reyner Banham, Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, 1971.

Love in Bright Landscapes examines Perth and Los Angeles as comparative case studies, bringing together a selection of artworks made in reference to the characters, qualities and topographies of the two west coast cities.

Presenting the work of of ten artists and collectives living, working, hailing from, or passing through both cities Love in Bright Landscapes explores ongoing stories of identity, purpose, presence and place in the cities of Perth and LosAngeles.

Curated by #annikakristensen, Senior Curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), who also happens to hail from Perth, the exhibition will launch on 24 July at the #pica Salon Vernissage, Perth’s signature art event and the highlight of PICA’s annual donor program. Artworks will be made available for sale on the night to Salon guests, with proceeds going directly to artists.

Artists featured in the exhibition will be presenting works in a variety of mediums, including painting, textiles, photography, video and sculpture. They include Carmen Argote, Jack Ball, Kevin Ballantine, Emma Buswell, George  Egerton-Warburton, Teelah George, Cassie Lynch and Mei Swan Lim, Laure Prouvost, Ed Ruscha, Martine Syms, Lisa Uhl, Brendan van Hek, and Sterling Wells.

Love in Bright Landscapes takes its title from the name of an album by former cult Perth band The Triffids – a group that has contributed much to the city’s folkloric wide-open roads, treeless plains and the relentless heat of a long, dry summer. But this evocation of love, and with it the possibilities and pitfalls of infatuation and romanticisation, might equally apply to an understanding of Los Angeles – a city that itself has long been steeped in lore and myth.

Guest Curator #annikakristensen on Love in Bright Landscapes says, “The starting point for this exhibition began – as they so often do – through conversations with artists. Anecdotal observations about the shared qualities of both Perth and Los Angeles – environmental, social and cultural – seemed to resonate with artists from Perth: both for those who had been to Los Angeles and drawn similar conclusions, but also those for whom LA was a myth that existed only in their imagination; in part because it is a city that trades on its own myth, which is propagated globally through cultural exports, including art, literature, film and song.”

One of the many stand out works in the exhibition comes from Fremantle artist Emma Buswell, who is well known for immortalising Mark McGowan’s legendary COVID-19 kebab phrase onto a jumper last year. Emma returns to Perth iconology with Once Upon A Time In… (2021), an epic 20 metre knitted scarf. Described by Emma as ‘part Simpsons, part Bayeaux tapestry, Once Upon a Time in... (2021) documents a timeline of infamous moments in recent Perth history, including the Mickleberg’s Perth Mint Swindle, Alan Bond’s Atlantis Theme Park, and WA’s third economic boom charted against the chronology of the artist’s own lifetime.

A series of new watercolours by New York born and Los Angeles based artist Sterling Wells looks at the urban infrastructure that exists in Los Angeles and is mirrored here in Perth. Depicting interstitial spaces around Los Angeles, including freeway on-ramps and urban waterways, these paintings portray an ongoing battle between humans and their environment that has continued from colonisation to the present day. This is the artist’s first exhibition in Australia.

Love in Bright Landscapes will open to the public on 30 July and run until Sunday 10 October, along with NSW Australian-Fijian artist Salote Tawale’s solo exhibition I don’t see colour in the First Floor Gallery, and a collection ofSione Monu’s (NZ/Canberra) videos in the Screet Space.