Cover image of the review
Samraing Chea, _Untitled (March 29th 2017)_, 2017, pencil on paper, 29.5 × 40.5 cm, courtesy the artist and Arts Project Australia. Photo: Andrew Curtis.

Samraing Chea: Universal Drawings
  • Giles Fielke


17 Mar 2018
Reading Room 3 Mar - 24 Mar 2018

Universal Drawings is an appropriate title for the exhibition of 41 works by the artist Samraing Chea currently on show at Olivia Radonich’s new city central gallery, Reading Room. A thoroughgoing millenial subject — Chea was born in 1995 — the suite of 26 drawings in full colour on display in Room 1 is a brilliant homage to the personalised screen cultures that have come to define the first decades of the 21st century. As revealed to me by the artist Rob McHaffie, who proposed the show to Radonich with fellow painter Matlok Griffiths, Universal Drawings is perhaps best understood as Chea’s own riff on Universal Pictures, the century-old Hollywood film studio that has significantly shaped our sense of what the cinema has effected on our perceptions of the world. Chea’s particular pairing of his visionary images with carefully composed one-liners, precisely transform his iterated drawings into emblematic images, also serving as the works’ poetic titles. There is a tenderness and earnestness to the works that is rare in contemporary practice, which often steels itself against the competitive machinations of the market. Here Chea’s intensity, the striking use of colour and the singularity of his obsessions over images are on proud display. It is this vision that McHaffie and Griffiths were keen to promote as a show dedicated to Chea’s work as such.

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