Louise Paramor: Toying with the Rules - Art Collector

Issue 78, October - December 2016

Given Louise Paramor never set out to be an artist who makes public sculpture, it is wonderfully ironic that some of her most significant successes have been in this department. Chief among them are the 2010 McClelland Sculpture Award, the 2012 Peninsula Link/ East Link freeway commission
Panorama Station and the 2014 Lorne Sculpture Biennale Prize.

Paramor’s practice, which has been regularly exhibited both here and internationally since the late 1990s, has long incorporated two-dimensional paintings and collages alongside her assemblages and larger-scale public works. It is a practice driven by her ongoing interest in cultural refuse as material, the nature of consumption and the value of colour. It is also a practice marked by the artist’s intuitive and joyful opportunism when it comes to recognising the innate sculptural possibilities of her materials.

Utilising bits of "treasure" found in op-shops, toyshops and two dollar shops, as well as hard and dumped rubbish and hardware stores, Paramor deftly combines elements of abstraction and a Duchampian kind of pop in her collages and assemblages that hum with a riotous harmony. They are energetic but compositionally resolved, without tension; playful but still deliberate; colourful.

Boomtown, Paramor’s new show at Karen Woodbury Gallery, is the artist’s attempt to reinvent ways to present her sculptures while continuing to employ cultural refuse. “Having transformed a number of plastic assemblages into large scale steel and aluminium permanent public sculptures... it’s hard not to consider this a possible eventual outcome when I now make my assemblages.” These previous assemblages gone mega include Heavy Metal Jam Session, COSTCO, 2009; Panorama Station, 2012; Supermodel, Lorne, 2014; and Feeling Machines, Bowden Park, South Australia, 2016.

The 64 assemblages in
Boomtown have been intentionally created as architectural propositions but the eight large-scale collages, constructed from paper pre-painted with gloss enamel as in previous series FOREVERYOURS (2004/05) and Classic Shazzy (2005/06), are equally as central to Boomtown’s wider explorations of the nature of public art and public space. Those with a sharp eye will discover that the large-scale sculptures that appear in the collages can also be found as a small-scale assemblage.

“Earlier this year, having started the assemblages, I decided it would be interesting to find some model homes or buildings to act as backgrounds for the assemblages to then make a series of two-dimensional works with,” says the artist. After searching for existing physical spaces, Paramor scoured the internet and stumbled across some fantastic real estate images of buildings yet to be built in India and Pakistan. “What appealed to me was the slightly exotic feel these buildings offered, often interestingly coloured and peppered with unusual details – subtle design details you probably wouldn’t find in Australia. I then collected many such images and what followed was an editing process to pair up buildings and assemblages. In this way, the found images and the found objects have equal weight for me.”

For Paramor, good public works should act as talismans that people enjoy encountering – “even if they enjoy being baffled by it” – but ultimately, “the insertion of the assemblages into the collages as large public sculptures is me having fun... I mean, after all, anything can go anywhere in an image, one has full license... It’s a playful response to the enormous growth occurring in our cities, and an optimist’s take on what that could mean for an artist.”

Jo Higgins

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