Cool hunter predictions: Justine Varga - Art Collector

Issue 63, January - March 2013

This profile appeared in the Cool hunter predictions feature, part of the annual special issue 50 Things Collectors Need to Know 2013.

ustine Varga, Eclipse #2 [Film Object series], 2011. C-type photograph, edition of 3, 63.5 x 53cm. Courtesy: the artist and Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide

At 28 years of age, Justine Varga has attracted considerable attention with her diminutive and minimal photographic work which invites studied contemplation. Space is emptied out and time is decelerated, allowing for the projection of all sorts of meanings and associations. The way light is used in her quietly compelling works dances in the imagination long after viewing.

The sheer modesty of her work cuts through the cacophony generated by many of her attention- grabbing peers. In 2012 alone she has exhibited at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Stills Gallery in Sydney, Hugo Michell Gallery in Adelaide, Sutton Gallery in Melbourne and in
Primavera at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2013 she is being curated into Available Light at McNamara Gallery in New Zealand and will create new work during a residency at Stone Villa Studios in Sydney.

Since graduating with Honours from Sydney’s National Art School in 2007, Varga has been concerned with the medium of photography itself and how it can be extended into the realm of drawing, sculpture and performance. Using analogue processes and shooting on film, she works with an intimacy of scale and slows down vision to foreground the act of looking itself. The longer you look, the more you see. “I want my work to draw people in to look,” she says. “When things get big they become quite explicit and even though you’re seeing a lot sometimes you’re not seeing it at all.”

It comes as no surprise that Varga has come to the attention of many leading Australian curators, among them the National Art School Gallery’s curator Katie Dyer. She says: “Justine’s work shows a studied devotion to materials, of light, and the sculptural capacity of paper. In our current global environment of image saturation and infinite reproduction, her work is a welcome shift in the genre of photography. As is the focus not on the self, through portraiture or the tiring documentation of the social activities of so many millions, but through symbolic gestures and actions that speak about individual existence in a private space.”

Daniel Mudie Cunningham

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