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Tricky Walsh
Hard Edges and Soft Openings
20 November – 12 December 2020

 

Judy Chicago built a monument to women throughout history in her installation The Dinner Party. Intricate and detailed, each place setting a constructed symbology dedicated to the specific qualities of its inhabitant.

In Hard Edges and Soft Openings there are eight pinball machine designs dedicated to women in the sciences whose work and knowledge have inspired my practice in either significant or passing ways. I’m not much for dinner parties but I’d love to spend ten minutes in an arcade, asking stupid questions over a game of frogger with any of these remarkable people. These works are accompanied by a series of larger metaphysical paintings, their common thread being the language of colour and geometry. These works are also dedicated similarly to women of note, throughout recent history.

Accompanying these are a series of circuit boards dedicated to the largely unknown female “computers” who spent time breaking codes, writing algorithms, and generally working out the math for most of our (aspirational, perhaps) technological development.

The last grouping is a series of “portraits” more intimate in scale. The works are based on colour theory, and mathematical space. Colour wheels dispersed with diagrams of mathematical models I documented from the Poincare Institute in France I visited late last year before the world closed. Each one named for the woman who inspired it.

Grace Hopper, Sophie Germain, Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie are four of the names that title the works in Walsh’s latest solo exhibition. Hard Edges and Soft Openings is monumental historically, politically and materially as Walsh pays tribute to women whose innovations have paved the way for the scientific and technological developments of the last century. Walsh’s indefatigable research into these women and their exceptional work is evinced in the detail and precision of the over 50 paintings and sculptures in this exhibition for the Bett Gallery in Hobart.

Walsh’s practice is exemplary of contemporary Geometric Abstraction. Conscious of its roots in the Synthetic and Analytic Cubism that deconstructed and reconfigured the accepted conventions of pictorial space, Geometric Abstraction is an established tool for critically dismantling the status quo. Every work in Hard Edges and Soft Openings is destined for either household or institution and carries the weight of a name that has been historically excluded from both. Walsh reasserts these formidable thinkers through a feminist dismantling of professional and domestic division. Conceptual subversion and material proficiency in the genre, sees the artist reclaim Geometric Abstraction as a critical artistic vocabulary capable of traversing truth claims, axiomatic reasoning and speculative thought.

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