Milica about others
Erika Remnant
Carmel Byrne
Braco Bravacic

Others about Milica
Chake Matossian
Tamares Goh

Carmel Byrne

Signals from “There”

What is the meaning of the hypnotically soft yellow-orange tones used in paintings of Australian artist Carmel Byrne? And what is the meaning of the crossroads, the T-intersection, the No Entry? Byrnes’s message is conveyed through a sign-like interplay of positive/negative spaces built up in several layers in medium-sized constructed relief.

Upon entering the exhibition space you are welcomed by seven panels which are mounted on the walls with their smaller versions scattered around at floor level.

Underscoring each panel is a section of road hazard signage in the form of diagonal black & white stripes. The overall use of space is balanced and creates a feeling or tranquillity. So, why then the hazard warning?

The relief transform into ready-mades with painted symbols that are representative and stylized in form as well as elegant in appearance. Yet there is more. This work is not only about elegance. There is a load of meaning waiting to be deciphered as I start to walk through this exhibition. What could the warning be about? With another glance at the exhibition title ‘FUNK’, I question whether this is all about funky tricks. Tricks of perception, perhaps.

At this point careful observation is called for: if you gaze at a cross it gathers the visual plane centrally, thus the opposing directions of its sides are neutralized. Lifted on a metaphysical level the image seems to represent a sign on a crossroad of our unconscious. I think of Jung.

When Kasimir Malevich experimented with the cross form, didn’t it stop being a mere symbol of Orthodoxy and became the universal entity calling for meditation? Once you think of the famous Russian Avant-garde artist and his simple abstract compositions you are at home with these intriguing panels. The analogy eludes until your eyes turn to the background plane, where a primordial power in the yellow cadmium pigment takes you into the ‘dusk beyond all spheres which follows the eruption between all worlds.’ You are ‘There’… in the place where your finest substance feels at ease with rays of everlasting light breathing its healing warmth over you.

In two major panels a bold black cross and a simple rectangular slot are the forms that divide one’s colour saturated vision. This inert sight is under a tension that is willing to flatten differences. With the background seen as the Positive, the black becomes a swallowing structure, a force of denial, the Negative, a keyhole. Another puzzle to solve. I am reminded of Jasper Johns’ ‘Target’ paintings.

By the simple facts of perception, what is a positive becomes a negative. Then comes emotion and the different laws of sight and meanings perplex you. In the end, ‘Here’ and ‘There’ will always be the two poles of the same distance. ‘There’ no judgement exists, all signs loose their function. Although the warnings are set up for you, it’s hard to keep it real.

There is no key to enter the absolute, just the ‘funky’ one in your pocket.

Milica Bravacic,
Art magazine, Singapore, April 2001