Stuart Ringholt

14.10.2022 - 12.11.2022

Haydens is pleased to present Landscapes, a solo exhibition by Melbourne/Naarm based artist Stuart Ringholt, with accompanying essay by Emma Nixon.

Stuart Ringholt lives and works in Melbourne on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. His work takes many forms including performance, video, drawing, collage, sculpture and collaborative workshops.  Personal and social themes such as fear and embarrassment are often represented through absurd situations or amateur self-help environments. Ringholt’s recent solo exhibitions include Line Work 99% Melbourne (2022) Landscapes and Factories Station Melbourne (2021), Recent Collage AAAB Melbourne (2021), Stuart Ringholt AGWA Perth (2020), Theatre Stills Neon Parc Melbourne (2018), Works On Paper Neon Parc Melbourne (2017), Stuart Ringholt: Nudes, Signs, and a Contract Osmos Gallery New York (2015) and Kraft Institute Of Modern Art Brisbane and Monash University Museum of Art Melbourne (2014). Recent group shows include; Aichi Triennale, Nagoya Japan (2019), When the other meets the other other? Cultural Center Belgrade (2017), Proposals to Surrender Ming Contemporary Art Museum Shanghai (2016), The Talking Cure Oakville Galleries Canada (2013), dOCUMENTA 13 Germany (2012), Singapore Biennale (2011) and Sydney Biennale (2008). He is the author of Hashish Psychosis: What it's Like to be Mentally Ill and Recover (2006) and A Problem Smile: Workshops, Tours and Discos (2018). He received a PhD (Philosophy) in 2016 from Monash University.

“We know that a picture is but a space in which a variety of images, none of them original, blend and crash”1 wrote American artist Sherrie Levine in 1982. Typifing this idea, Stuart Ringholt’s solo exhibition Landscapes is the coming together of distant realities over 24 black and white A4 collages.

Meticulously made, the amalgamation of forests, mountain ranges, industrial areas and seaports within Ringholt’s collages conjure unknown places with bizarre turns and tangled ways forward. Within the array of constructed landscapes, figures are almost entirely devoid except for a few vital poetic moments: a sheep being sheared, two giraffes tipped sideways or an occasional estranged pair of legs. Simultaneously seamless and jarring, these fragmented paper cuttings create a sense of disorientation while also adhering to their own sense of logic. The collages reject linear narrative and invite the viewer into the surreal through enchanting vignettes like a fish swimming upwards into the sky or suited men talking to a seal in the wild. The collages feel otherworldly or from a far-away land. Ringholt achieves this by merging cross-cultural imagery, a European castle on the edge of a cliff or an upside-down Japanese Torii temple gate and juxtaposes extensive flora and fauna with the industrial and man-made en masse.

Taken from the encyclopaedic Newnes Pictorial Knowledge books published in ten volumes between the 1930-50’s, the chosen images seem disparate and in need of decoding, only united by their black and white grain. Ringholt has removed all the contextual information for the original images, except for a page number on each work (which then becomes its title). Unlike some of Ringholt’s previous collage series such as Circle Heads 2005, in which a new mouth and eyes are inserted onto a person’s face, or Nudes 2013 where modernist sculptures or paintings are placed over a porn star’s genitals, these landscape collages are more subtle in their approach to the absurd. Ringholt’s works often harness a sense of play and the imaginary, his Nuclear Clock 2019, for example (which was displayed in the Aichi Triennale in Japan 2019) is a monumental kinetic sculpture which ticks much slower than existing clocks. Addressing human relationships to time, the altered clock speculates what a future with a 34-hour day on earth could reveal. The Landscapes question and elongate reality too, mountains dissolve into one another, clouds move in opposite directions, rock formations expand to infinity.

Encompassing performance, video, drawing, collaborative workshops, sculpture and works on paper, Ringholt’s practice ultimately proposes new, or other ways of being: slow, fast, overlapping, naked, angry, upside down or spliced together. This exhibition challenges what a traditional landscape is, encouraging the viewers imagination to open or widen. Moving towards the absurd and illogical, this sense of worldbuilding and deep questioning acknowledges our collective need to rethink the status quo. Perhaps a social attempt at Levine’s blend and crash.

Emma Nixon
October 2022

1 Sherrie Levine, “Statement” in The Ends of Collage, ed. Yuval Etgar (New York and London: Luxembourg & Dayan, 2017).

All photography by Christo Crocker

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