Cover image of the review
Installation view of Peter Tyndall, SINCLAIR+GALLERY, Castlemaine Art Museum. Photo: Ian Hill.


12 Mar 2022
Castlemaine Art Museum 16 Dec - 10 Jul 2022

We appear to be in a show room passage. With a tree-sawn grid-nailed floor. Level, horizontal …

Sigmar Polke, Imants Tillers, Joseph Beuys and Colin McCahon are the cardinal points. Named on the interior cut-corner walls and echoing the crown nameplate of the Sinclair Gallery, which itself fits neatly inside the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Museum (recently renamed Castlemaine Art Museum), the current exhibition SINCLAIR+GALLERY by Peter Tyndall, the Hepburn Springs-based artist, is a vertiginous reflection on the installation of artwork in the storied gallery of the museum. At its centre, there is a plinth that inverts the octagonal structure of the gallery and features a kitchen instrument that miniaturises and points to the gridded light-well of the ceiling. On the gallery walls, the picture rail mouldings help to reveal Tyndall’s elegant iconography, which is repeated in the paintings that are framed and hung below.

Meta-painting may seem an apt signifier for Tyndall’s concept-driven process, but perhaps today that more readily signifies Facebook’s online algorithmics. Opposed to aesthetic projects like Tyndall’s, these social media companies have co-opted and monetised the (visual) search function ruthlessly for nearly two decades. Network painting, perhaps? No. But walking through an art deco building that opened in 1931, it’s impossible not to connect this enduring outcome of an Australian modernism with the indifferent digital aesthetics of the information age. (The grid of the QR code and its repetition in laminated Victorian Government signage at every entrance are only the most obvious examples of this.) In 1913, Elsie Barlow, a founding member of the Twenty Melbourne Painters Society, proposed the creation of a permanent art gallery for Castlemaine. The present gallery building ended up being designed by architect Percy Meldrum, who had earlier travelled to Chicago and was a Frank Lloyd Wright acolyte. Upon his return to Melbourne, Meldrum partnered with Arthur George Stephenson, whom he had met in London at the Architectural Association after the war effort, becoming a pioneer of architectural modernism in the provinces of the interwar colony.

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