Saturday, September 8, 2012

'Vignette/Vitrine' sneak peek

I have some new work in the forthcoming group exhibition Vignette/Vitrine at Hand Held Gallery, Melbourne. Curated by Hand Held Director Megan Herring, the exhibition will comprise paintings, objects and works on paper. Other participating artists are Sheridan Jones, Paul Compton, Bonnie Hanlon, Priscilla Ambrosini and Megan Herring.

The miniatures encased in the wooden box pictured above are my first forays into silhouette figures. Traditionally, silhouette portraits are black paper cutouts, sometimes with selected details added in white. The painted surfaces of my works deliberately emulate these effects.

Over the years I’ve found curated projects such as this one to be exceptionally challenging and stimulating. Seeking fresh ways to address a specific brief, at least if it’s one that particularly excites my imagination, will almost invariably introduce new life and direction to my work. In fact, I’ve continued to extend and develop the silhouetted figures, and plan to take them to a larger scale.

The shadow animations of Lotte Reiniger are the primary influence for this series. As a young child, I discovered her animated fairy tales on black and white television. I was completely captivated - I had never seen anything quite so magical before - and never forgot them, although I had no idea who their creator was. 

The mystery was finally solved in 2010 when I attended a special screening at Melbourne’s Astor Theatre of Lotte Reiniger's The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) the world’s first extant full-length animated film. I wondered if this could be the same artist whose fairytale animations had stayed with me for all those years. Indeed she was. The Adventures of Prince Achmed, an acknowledged masterpiece, is now firmly entrenched near the top of my list of favourite films. I have my very own DVD copy, courtesy of the British Film Institute, and, thanks also to the BFI, can also regularly revisit Reiniger’s short fairytale subjects that I first encountered in childhood. When researching her work, I was elated to learn that she shared my admiration of the work of film pioneer Georges Méliès, and that Jean Renoir, another of my cinematic heroes, was a lifelong enthusiast and supporter of her work.

Images from top:

1: Vignette Vitrine, 2012, by Deborah Klein, acrylic on miniature canvases in wooden case (31 x 31 cm overall); photograph by Tim Gresham
2: Lotte Reiniger at work on a shadow puppet
3 & 4: Stills from Lotte Reiniger's animated film The Adventures of Prince Achmed, 1926
5: Still from Reiniger's fairy tale animation The Golden Goose, 1944

Suite 18 first floor, Paramount Arcade
108 Bourke Street
Melbourne Vic 3000
Telephone: (03) 9654 4006
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 12-5 pm

The exhibition will run from 20 September - 20 October.