Cover image of the review
Installation view of RICH, 99%, Melbourne, 2022. Richard Bell, How to be Happy, 2020, acrylic on linen, 180 x 180 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. Photo: Christo Crocker.

Melbourne Art Fair: The Nicholas Building 'Up Late'

19 Feb 2022
99%, BLINDSIDE, CAVES, Joseph Beuys Cafe, Stephen McLaughlan Gallery 16 Feb - 16 Feb 2022

Those who prefer their art galleries stacked one on top of each other—as opposed to sprawled out, Sexpo style, at the Convention Centre—would do well to visit the Nicholas Building, where several art spaces opened their doors to punters on Wednesday night as part of Melbourne Art Fair’s “Up Late” program. Queuing for the lift in the Cathedral Arcade, I was quick to encounter Dario—a charismatic member of the Nicholas Building Association—who advised that the best way to “do the building” was to take the lift up to the ninth floor and wend your way down. Part of the lifeblood of the building, he was mysteriously omnipresent all evening—coursing through lifts, stairwells, hallways; putting up posters, snapping pics, gabbing with tenants.

The building is a genuinely social place and the community it houses is real. Here, the production and presentation of art occurs in tandem. Thus, we encounter, on the ninth floor, an open studio packed with artists working across a range of media—from oil painting to ink cartoons to digital illustration. Among them: Emma Carter, who has kept a studio in the building for some twenty-seven years, and who presented a suite of otherworldly landscape paintings informed by the way animals perceive colour. Neighbouring artist Kate Wallace exhibited enigmatic, small-scale oil paintings lined up like delicate tiles—each a subtle abstraction of photographic details subject to the fog of memory.

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.