Echoes of Laocoon exhibition at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia

Selling Exhibition
19 February – 23 April

Opening reception:
19 February 6 – 8pm

Walead Beshty, Melissa Gordon, Tony Lewis, Tim Maguire, Takesada Matsutani, Edda Renouf, Peter Schuyff, Christopher Wool

Exhibition catalogue

Events calendar

Essay

What makes a painting a painting, and how does it differ from poetry? Those questions seem straightforward today, but until the 18th century there wasn’t considered to be a difference at all. Once cultural philosophers started to explore this topic, however, it quickly became the driving factor for understanding the development of modern art, and for art’s claim to autonomy. Over the course of the 20th century it also offered artists a linear narrative framework within which to position their practice, leading many to conclude that they had painted the last painting.

The debates around this theme are largely known as ‘medium specificity,’ most famously defended by the American scholar Clement Greenberg. And although his writings have been discredited over the years, contemporary artists have only expanded their engagement with their mediums since. Instead of the often-declared ‘death of painting,’ the post-modern condition has generated an incredible variety of artistic responses.

This exhibition brings together a small number of artists who have engaged with debates around medium specificity in one way or another. Some have continued the narrative where others have tried to undermine it; other artists have explored it from angles such as identity politics that had previously not been considered.

The exhibition features several artists who have never exhibited in Australia before, including Peter Schuyff, Tony Lewis Takesada Matsutani and Melissa Gordon; and it is the first selling exhibition with works by Walead Beshty, Christopher Wool and Edda Renouf in Australia.

Peter Schuyff - Untitled (1987) from Pat Hearn at ILEANA Contemporary Art in Brisbane, Australia

PETER SCHUYFF
Untitled, 1987
acrylic on canvas
36 by 36 cm.

Echoes of Laocoon exhibition at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia
Edda Renouf, Autumn Sounds I, 1978-81 at ILEANA Contemporary Art in Brisbane, Australia

EDDA RENOUF
Autumn Sounds I, 1978-81
acrylic on linen, with removed threads
40.5 by 40.5 cm.

Echoes of Laocoon exhibition at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia
Echoes of Laocoon exhibition catalogue at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia

Exhibition Catalogue

Order the catalogue accompanying the exhibition Echoes of Laocoön at ILEANA. The publication features an introductory essay to the exhibition, as well as texts on each of the works included in the show.

62 pages, full-colour illustrations
Available early March
$20

Preorder the catalogue

Tim Maguire - Untitled, 1994, Fontana slit painting at ILEANA Contemporary Art in Brisbane, Australia

TIM MAGUIRE
Untitled (94C63), 1994
acrylic on canvasboard
38.3 by 46.3 cm.

Echoes of Laocoon exhibition at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia
Tim Maguire, Untitled, 1994, Fontana buchi painting at ILEANA Contemporary Art in Brisbane, Australia

TIM MAGUIRE
Untitled (94U63), 1994
acrylic on canvasboard
46.5 by 38.3 cm.

Echoes of Laocoon exhibition at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia

“The purely plastic or abstract qualities of the work of art are the only ones that count. Emphasise the medium and its difficulties, and at once the purely plastic, the proper, values of visual art come to the fore.” – Clement Greenberg 

Melissa Gordon, Ironer, 2008 at ILEANA Contemporary Art in Brisbane, Australia

MELISSA GORDON
Ironer, 2008
acrylic on canvas
90 by 81 cm.

Echoes of Laocoon exhibition at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia
Christopher Wool, Untitled, 2006-07 silkscreen at ILEANA Contemporary Art in Brisbane, Australia

CHRISTOPHER WOOL
Untitled, 2006-07
silkscreen ink on paper
76.4 by 55.7 cm.

Echoes of Laocoon exhibition at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia
Echoes of Laocoon exhibition at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia

Echoes of Laocoon exhibition at ILEANA Contemporary Art in Brisbane, Australia

Laocoön is known for two reasons. He was the priest who warned his fellow citizens against letting the Trojan horse into their city, against the will of the gods. For this he was punished by Athena, who sent giant sea serpents to kill him and his two sons. The story was narrated by Virgil in his epic poem the Aeneid, in which form it has been retold countless times and lives on till this day. The story also inspired what would become one of the most acclaimed sculptures in history, and was described by the Roman author Pliny as “a work to be preferred to all that the arts of painting and sculpture have produced”.

It was through this sculptural iteration of the ancient myth that Laokoon found himself the subject of a discussion in contemporary art centuries later. But it’s worth considering the trajectory from Pliny’s description of the sculpture to Clement Greenberg’s account in 1940, since it is surprising how long it has taken for a basic understanding of the subject, which is now known as ‘medium specificity’, to be formulated.

Read full exhibition essay

Tony Lewis, Valleys of Frustration and Failure, 2014, graphite, Chicago, at ILEANA Contemporary Art in Brisbane, Australia

TONY LEWIS
Untitled (…and Valleys of Frustration and Failure), 2014
pencil and graphite powder on comic book cutout
frame: 50.8 by 47.6 cm.

Echoes of Laocoon exhibition at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia
Tony Lewis, Sissy, 2016, graphite, Chicago at ILEANA Contemporary Art in Brisbane, Australia

TONY LEWIS
Untitled (…Sissy), 2014
pencil, graphite powder and correction tape on comic book cutout
frame: 50 by 49 cm.

Echoes of Laocoon exhibition at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia
Walead Beshty, Untitled, 2009 at ILEANA Contemporary Art in Brisbane, Australia

WALEAD BESHTY
Untitled, 2009
cyanotype on paper
20 by 15.5 cm.

Echoes of Laocoon exhibition at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia
Takesada Matsutani, Propagation AA, 1970, Gutai Japan at ILEANA Contemporary Art in Brisbane, Australia

TAKESADA MATSUTANI
Propagation AA, 1970
silkscreen ink on paper
image: 63 by 49 cm.   sheet: 72 by 57 cm.

Echoes of Laocoon exhibition at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia
Echoes of Laocoon exhibition at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia

Opening reception
Friday 19 February 6 – 8 pm
Please join us for the opening of the second exhibition at ILEANA. For a brief exhibition talk, please arrive at 5.30pm
RSVP to attend

Echoes of Laocoon exhibition at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia

Exhibition talk
Friday 5 March 6 – 8 pm
Boris Cornelissen will walk you through the exhibition and tell you all about the artworks and the medium specificity debates
RSVP to attendFB Event

Echoes of Laocoon exhibition at ILEANA Contemporary Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia

Collecting International Contemporary Art
Friday 19 March 6 – 7 pm
Buying art outside of Australia might seem like a challenge. Yet there are many reasons to consider it: a global market place, better return on investment, artists with international recognition, and a good excuse to travel. Boris will talk you through the contemporary art market and give some tips on where to start.
RSVP to attend

ILEANA
897b Brunswick St
Wed – Sat 11.30 – 6pm
19 February – 23 April