PETER MALONEY | THE MIRROR: Angles of resistance | Curated by Mark Bayly | CCAS [Canberra] Free Public Program: 3pm 3 June 2023
Free Public Program:
3pm 3 June
Panel discussion by Tony Oates (Curator, Drill Hall Gallery) with artists Dionisia Salas & Ruth Waller
Exhibition Dates: 15 April – 3 June 2023, CCAS Lakeside
Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 11am – 5pm
This exhibition examines Peter Maloney’s practice from the perspective of the artist’s gay male / queer sexuality in a single project, for the first time in his 40-year career. As the instigator of this project, I’m in the unique position of being both exhibition curator and the artist’s partner, and the nature of our relationship has provided me with free access to the artist’s studio. This proximity has granted me the privilege of experiencing individual works in gestation – allowing me to note the artist’s processes – as well as the opportunity to follow the chronology of Maloney’s evolving practice.
The level of trust that I enjoy with the artist has led to the re-discovery of some works that had been forgotten, or that I’d previously not seen – some of which have been incorporated into this exhibition. The project represents a unique glimpse into Maloney’s intimate realm, as all the works on display derive from the artist’s personal collection, or archive – the majority of which have never previously been exhibited.
Maloney has made numerous stylistic approaches in his practice through the years, and perhaps because of these different angles, his work has consistently defied easy categorisation. His conceptual propositions represent his questioning of orthodoxy, and the freedom to resist any inclination towards homogeneity in favour of alternatives to convention – artifice, hybridity, and indeed – queer context. Consequently, the works he produces remain highly personal and idiosyncratic – equally robust and poetic – and often obscure in meaning, even when their appearance is inherently graphic.
The works displayed in this exhibition capture a sense of Peter Maloney’s engagement with apparently opposing, if related ideas – the image and its mirrored reflection as distortion; the body – its relationship with youth and vigour, and its antithesis in aging and illness; abstraction – with the unconscious, the human spirit, and the unknown. The artist’s approach also reflects the existential paradox of what it means to remain alive – to have survived – following the trauma of the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and ‘90s, when Maloney lost his (then) partner, plus his entire circle of close male friends.
Perhaps his work can best be understood as metaphorical dispatches to oblivion – conveyed to those who died too young – to those who left behind grieving lovers and bewildered families. At times, works in this exhibition burst with kinetic energy, while others simmer quietly – depicting human vulnerability, an edgy anxiety, and reflective elegy.
Mark Bayly and Peter Maloney have been partners since 1995.
Peter Maloney is represented by Utopia Art Sydney.
Fugitive Text, photomontages by Peter Maloney, is available for purchase at the gallery and through M.33 Melbourne Publishing.
Image: Peter Maloney The Honey 2010, acrylic on canvas, 226 x 162.5cm. Photo courtesy of Utopia Art Sydney.
Electroclash, 2002-12. Picture by David Paterson
Peter Maloney: THE MIRROR Angles of Resistance. Canberra Contemporary Art Space Lakeside. Until June 3. ccas.com.au.
THE MIRROR Angles of Resistance is said to examine Canberra-based artist Peter Maloney’s practice from the perspective of his gay/queer sexuality for the first time in his 40-year career. (In 2018, Drill Hall Gallery did survey his work from the preceding 30 years.).
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