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— Biography of Mark Galea

Mark Galea likes to play with our eyes and minds. In 2001 at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art he rotated the interior of a gallery room ninety degrees in an installation entitled Model. With the gallery architecture turned on its side you walked on the wall and could look directly at the lights, floorboards and security camera. Reconfiguring a three-dimensional space was an ingenious way of making literal a key conceptual and visual concern in Galea’s two-dimensional paintings and works on paper: permutations in colour and form make visual the idea of rotation or movement in space, of perceptually turning things around and rhythmically shifting them about. 

...In Galea’s careful and disciplined application of monochromatic paints, abstract forms optically quiver and vibrate. Our eyes participate in this rhythm, which is produced by contrasting harmonious and discordant colours within the composition, despite the essential silence of the painting as a material object. Even though the movement within the work is illusory, it demonstrates that there is a twist to Galea’s fascination with geometric perfection. And it is this twist – an unresolved tension between movement and stillness, visual structure and imbalance – that further describes his approach to art-making.

Galea’s practice clearly responds to and references the history of abstraction. Piet Mondrian, for instance, reduced his paintings to straight lines and pure colour in order to achieve a harmonious and rhythmic synthesis of form, colour and surface. Barnett Newman believed you should stand at a certain distance from the canvas and discover yourself within his work. From an illusory surface that suggests energy through the relationship between positive and negative elements (Mondrian) or encourages self-reflection (Newman) to contemporary ideas of interactivity and spatiality, Galea explores these antecedents, lending universality to the ideas and sensations opened up by abstraction.

...In their refined amalgamation of structure with content, Galea’s paintings are similar to a well-crafted symphony; they belie their strategic and methodical beginnings. They can be quiet and uplifting or vibrantly dynamic, strong and diminished. There are bright colourful moments and simultaneous subtle shifts in tonal variation. In a beautiful synthesis of form and process they ask us to participate, showing us the spaces just beyond the square.

Natasha Bullock, 2005

Mark Galea CV

Since its establishment in 1984, the Charles Nodrum Gallery’s exhibition program embraces a diversity of media and styles - from painting, sculpture & works on paper to graphics and photography; from figurative, geometric, gestural, surrealist & social comment to installation & conceptually based work.