Deborah Kelly – Life in the Ruins

Press release

Copyright Deborah Kelly
Deborah Kelly, Mervenus, 2017 (41,5 x 40 cm, Collage, pure pigment, ink, on handmade cotton paper)

LIFE IN THE RUINS | Collages by Deborah Kelly
October 5 – November 4, 2018
Fabian & Claude Walter Galerie, Zurich

Life in the Ruins at Fabian & Claude Walter Galerie in Zurich is Deborah Kelly’s first solo exhibition in Switzerland, curated by Daniel Blochwitz.

The opening will take place on Thursday 4 October 2018 from 6 to 8 p.m. and the exhibition will last until the Open Weekend of the Zurich Galleries Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 November 2018.

Discarded books and encyclopaedias are as much source material for Deborah Kelly (*1962) as her avid studies, boundless curiosity and vivid imagination. She describes it as her “obsession with constructing new possibilities for the symbolic order from abandoned books, and their sorrowful status as the ruins of a civilisation – which is ours.”

As the Australian artist travels from residency to biennial to workshop to arts festival and back home, she investigates local folklore, religious imagery, stories and personal experiences while picking up wildly diverse printed materials on her way. It’s as if she collects fragments of the world’s memory, which she, then, reassembles into eloquent, spirited and allegorical fantasies, audacious proposals and cautionary tales that speak to the state of this very world.

The resulting artworks seem like exercises in resistance: refusing the vanishing of our material, corporeal, social and natural world that threatens to turn into some sort of digital, virtual, asocial, asexual and man-made dystopia. They also seem like lessons in dissent: protesting the loss of voice and agency, but also the erosion of liberty and solidarity. After all, collages and photomontages always appear in times when other modes of artistic expression fail to capture the mood and urgency of crises.

Deborah Kelly’s works have been included in the Biennales of Singapore, Venice, Thessaloniki, Tarra Warra and Sydney. Her solo and collaborative works have been shown in galleries, museums, streets and cinemas around the world. Her work is held in numerous important collections, including the Art Gallery of NSW; National Gallery of Australia; Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art; Artbank; Centre for the Study of Political Graphics (Los Angeles); University of Wollongong; Royal Institution of Australia, SA; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia; Museum Victoria; State Library of Victoria. Campbelltown Arts Centre, NSW; Ballarat Regional Art Gallery, VIC; Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, NSW and the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives Poster Collection, Melbourne. She is also the recipient of several awards, including the National Works on Paper Acquisition Award, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, VIC, Albury Art Prize, NSW, and the Fisher’s Ghost Art Award, Campbelltown Arts Centre, NSW.

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