Cover image of the review
Installation view of Frozen Blood, 2023. Neon Parc [City]. Courtesy of Neon Parc. Photo: Madé Spencer-Castle

Frozen Blood

2 Dec 2023
Frozen Blood, Neon Parc | City 16 Nov - 16 Dec 2023 Frozen Blood, Neon Parc | Brunswick 17 Nov - 16 Dec 2023 Frozen Blood, Neon Parc | South Yarra 24 Nov - 16 Dec 2023

If Neon Parc had a mum and dad, it would be Vivienne Binns and Mike Brown. A dysfunctional couple, these two protagonists of Australian art lend the commercial gallery so much nourishment that Neon Parc’s Director Geoff Newton keeps curating them into exhibitions (despite the fact that he represents neither). Brown and Binns are difficult parents. Two very good artists with very healthy egos, Neon Parc is the byproduct of their brief affair in 1965. A child of divorce, then, the gallery has never quite matured emotionally, spiritually, and sexually—it looks to the past to explain the present. For me, this sentimental aspect of Neon Parc has always been its distinguishing feature.

Vivienne Binns, No title (figure, striped cheeks, distended genitals, see-through thighs), 1965-6, biro on paper, 20.0 x 12.0 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Sutton Gallery.
Mike Brown, Golden Chalice, 1987/88, paper collage, 68.0 x 54.0 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Neon Parc.

In the group exhibitions that Newton curates, like Frozen Blood—currently spread across all three Neon Parc venues—you can see how his eye wanders to the art of the 1990s, 1980s, 1970s, going no further back than the 1960s. He doesn’t do this with any great conceptual rigour. Or, at least, none that he would articulate if you asked him. The exhibition text claims that Frozen Blood evokes themes of “immortality” as well as “time” in addition to “Bad Taste.” I get the feeling that Newton periodically drags the gallery back forty-plus years as a sort of personal return to the well. Throw the bucket down, pull up the cool, cleansing waters of Oz art history. It’s not a problem that it’s a little sexist and overwhelmingly Caucasian down there—that’s just part of the vintage charm!

To read for free enter your email address.

Log in with your registered email address.

Memo can continue to publish free, quality, and independent weekly art criticism with the support of our readers. Consider becoming a Patreon supporter or making a donation.