267 Church Street, Richmond 3121

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gallery@charlesnodrumgallery.com.au

— Introduction by Charles Nodrum

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Introduction

 I never forget my father’s reaction on first seeing Rembrandt’s Philosopher in the Louvre.  He had assumed that such a celebrated work would be realised in a large physical scale, so was astonished to discover it was so small.  “How can he get so much into so little?” he mused, but whilst it remained a mystery for him, it enhanced still further Rembrandt’s standing in his mind.  

Some have the same response to Norma Redpath’s bronzetti: how can she squeeze such heavy aesthetic content into such diminutive physical objects?  In her case, there is an indication: she may have been making small, but she definitely wasn’t thinking small.  We know from drawings and notes that she also saw these works as potentially monumental in scale and in her mind, three or four centimetres could expand to three or four metres.  So to look at these little bronzes we need to shrink our bodies to a Lilliputian scale and imagine walking around them; to look not just down, but up, across and through.  

Like many of the best works of art, they embody a seeming contradiction: an august formal rectitude contrasts with the almost unsettling tactility of every crevice, curve and protuberance. Significantly, they remain part and parcel of their time in repeatedly working that 20th century existential theme of being and not-being: the positive material substance encloses the negative empty space to the point where the two maintain a watchful and democratic symbiosis.  Watchful because they (matter and space) both inhabit and defend their territory; democratic because they respect the other’s domain; and symbiotic because each gives life and energy to the other.

Finally – a practical matter.  Norma Redpath’s editions were usually small – and even those often not realised in full.  Hence many of the exhibited works are unique – the sole extant casts.  In accordance with the artist’s vision, the Estate reserves the right to re-edition these works but only in a larger scale format and then only if and when appropriate.  

CN


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.