Simryn Gill

09 Sep – 06 Nov 2010

We are pleased to announce a solo presentation by the artist Simryn Gill. ‘Letters Home’ is Gill’s first presentation in India and will feature new as well as rarely seen early work, offering insight into the artist’s varied practice. 

Born in Singapore, Gill lives between Sydney, Australia and Port Dickson, Malaysia. Her work reveals a deep interest in questions of place and history and in the ways that meaning can transform and translate in different contexts. In ‘Letters Home’ she travels across the landscapes of her many homes, drawing out unexpected connections between them with a lightness of touch. 

My own private Angkor (2008) is a suite of photographs that records the interiors of an abandoned housing estate in Port Dickson that is gradually being reclaimed by nature. Like the great temples at Angkor Wat, these mock-Tudor homes were left to ruin in the mid-1980s after an economic crisis in Malaysia. Gill’s camera faithfully records rectangular sheets of smoked glass poised against square windows and once white walls. The images capture the interplay of modernist forms while hinting at the economic reversals of the region: the theft of aluminium window frames is an unexpected consequence of the sharp rise in metal prices fuelled by the success of India and China’s economies. 

Caress is an ongoing series of graphite rubbings of typewriters on paper. On a visit to Mumbai, Gill discovered  ‘typewriters’ lane’, once called Picket Street, in the vicinity of the law courts. These outdated machines, still in regular use, contrast with India’s image in the world as a centre for software development. Caress, writes Yao Souchou, “describes the sensuous fingering of the typewriter in transferring the relief to paper. The loving care in her ways of working celebrates the exuberant richness of her subject. And you suspect she finds the typists fellow artists. What moves her is their toil, petitions and old-fashioned enterprise.”

In Rampant (1999), one of Gill’s earliest works, plants such as camphor, laurel, and bamboo, formerly from China, are photographed growing rampant in the Australian landscape. Naturalised into their new landscape, some of these plants are nevertheless regarded as noxious weeds. Gill’s plants are dressed in lungis and sarongs, clothing worn by Southeast Asian communities. This rarely exhibited work ruminates on what it means to be foreign in all places.

‘Letters Home’ follows on from the artist’s survey show ‘Simryn Gill: Gathering’, currently on view at the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane. Gill’s recent solo shows include ‘Inland’ (Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, 2009); ‘Simryn Gill: Gathering’ (Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2008); ‘Simryn Gill’ (Tate Modern, London, 2006); ‘32 Volumes’ (Maitland Regional Art Gallery, Maitland, NSW, 2006); ‘Perspectives: Simryn Gill’ (Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, 2006). She has shown in numerous group exhibitions, including the Sharjah Biennial (2009); ‘Transmission Interrupted’ (Modern Art Oxford, 2009); the Biennale of Sydney (2008); Documenta 12, Kassel (2007);  ‘Living in the Material World - ‘things’ in Art of the 20th Century and Beyond’ (The National Art Center, Tokyo, 2006).

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