The re-activation of an industrial warehouse as part of Adelaide’s burgeoning arts scene has resulted in this dynamic installation, a three-dimensional drawing. Leanne Amodeo reports. Adelaide has long had a thriving independent arts scene characterised by a shifting group of dynamic artist-run-initiatives (ARIs). Over the years they have nurtured a vast number of emerging talents that have gone on to great success.
The evolving artistic landscape means that new ARIs continue to pop up, replacing the ones that close down, and this keeps the scene enlivened. Fontanelle is one such gallery and since opening eighteen months ago it has impressed with a tightly curated program of innovative exhibitions.
A highlight of this program is the current exhibition by Adelaide-based Sam Songailo. It cementsFontanelle’s place as a hub of artistic vigour as well as reinforcing the local artist’s capacity for creating energetic immersive installations.
His Zen Gardenis a large three-dimensional drawing in black and white. Lines run the length of the main gallery’s floor – interrupted by sporadic ‘rock’ clusters – and evenly spaced rectangles cover the walls. Songailo’s repetitive patterns have a seductive quality to them and the overall effect is not at all frenetic.The artist intended to invest his installation with a sense of reflection and calm, and he succeeds. But any suggestion Zen Gardenis solely concerned with nature and meditation is inaccurate. There’s an inherent grittiness in Songailo’s line work; it acts as a reminder that this space is actually anything but a Zen garden.
His strong affinity for urban built environments is what makes Songailo’s response to this interior resonate. Fontanelle is, after all, a former run-down warehouse in the semi-industrial inner-city suburb of Bowden. That the artist has lent it a kind of restrained beauty is an unexpected yet welcome outcome.
Zen Garden is not typical of Songailo’s brightly coloured public installations, however its duo-tone simplicity stands in nice contrast to the artist’s urban body of work. It also makes the hint of pink glimpsed through the doorway of Fontanelle’s second gallery an even more intriguing gesture.
Songailo deliberately uses this accent to full effect although it is a separate exhibition by fellow Adelaide-based artist Emily Taylor. His understanding of spatial considerations and awareness of structural details ultimately makes Zen Garden a memorable experience.