Vivienne Binns: It is what it is, what it is
⬤ Sutton Gallery 17 Mar - 14 Apr 2018
Vivienne Binns seems to have taught—or had some sort of mentor-like relationship with—a whole bunch of artists whose work I like: Charlie Sofo, Liang Luscombe, Trevelyan Clay, Kate Smith and Geoff Newton, to name just a few. If there is amongst some or all of these artists a shared sensibility to do with humour, a cavalier attitude towards painting (or 'fine art' in general), a commitment to abstraction, patterning and the everyday, it is more than a little tempting to see Binns lurking somewhere in the background, as somehow responsible. Over the years, I've got to know Binns' work elliptically. We were taught about her now-canonical early feminist and community arts projects from the late 1960s to the early 1980s in Australian art history subjects, but these—not surprisingly, some forty years later—seem at a remove from the very particular painting practice of hers that I've come to know in recent years. Rather, I feel I developed the strongest sense of her work through anecdotes told by these artist students, and through the spectral traces of her practice that seem to be expressed in their own work. Indeed, the intergenerational and discursive model offered by teaching in an art school, where ideas, techniques and pools of knowledge are thrown around often casually, is a useful one for thinking through the impressive body of work that Binns has produced over the last five decades. Binns' solo exhibition at Sutton Gallery, entitled It is what it is, what it is, afforded me a chance to test this proposition.