Cover image of the review
Installation view of Rose Nolan, Working Models, 2023, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne. Photo: Christian Capurro. Courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery.

Working Models, Light Weight / Light Well

15 Apr 2023
Working Models, Anna Schwartz Gallery 18 Mar - 15 Apr 2023 Light Weight / Light Well, Hyacinth 10 Mar - 25 Mar 2023

Rose Nolan has been doing things with words since the 1980s. Her expansive practice has included the production of books, small sculptures, photographs, posters, paintings, banners, multiples, and large-scale installations. One throughline across all these mediums has been a preoccupation with the fraught dynamics between language, lettering, and formalism in artmaking. Her work has inventively borrowed, and in the process sloganised, snippets (usually single words or phrases) from books, catalogues, advertising, and everyday conversation. In the spirit of Nolan’s commitment to the ethos of the twentieth-century avant-garde—with all the ferocious ambition and utopian possibility that was invested in artmaking—we might call this spatial poetics.

Currently open in Melbourne’s CBD are Nolan’s two solo exhibitions: Working Models at Anna Schwartz Gallery, and Light Weight / Light Well at the small artist-run outfit Hyacinth. It’s not often that an artist gets the opportunity to sync two solo shows just down the road from each other on Flinders Lane. It is an especially generative double-barrel for the different opportunities afforded by each gallery: the former an established and large space which also represents Nolan commercially, the latter a more provisional, “rip-it-up-and-start-again” project that often shows the art of a younger generation. Between the two some organising themes of Nolan’s extended practice are clarified, illuminating continuities that can be overlooked at a single exhibition. Working Models and Light Weight / Light Well are a minor retrospective in two fragments.

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