27 July – 13 August 2011: Capriccio – The 21st Century Wunderkammer

Rod Gray

Rod Gray

Rod Gray

Curated by artist Rod Gray, Capriccio will bring together red’s three galleries as a singular space of 21st century introspection featuring thirteen of Melbourne’s finest established and emerging artists. Divided into the Wunderkammer’s latin terms of classification, Naturalia [the natural], Artefacta [the cultural], and Scientifica [the scientific] the exhibition will reveal the surprising relevance of the antique ‘chamber of wonders’ for 21st century aesthetics.

Penny Byrne

Penny Byrne

Penny Byrne

The Wunderkammer [literally wonder-chamber] was a mode of display and interpretation of scientific enquiry beginning in 15th and 16th century Europe. Wunderkammer’s in many ways were the precursor of the museums and galleries of today. Contemporary aesthetics relate closely to these cabinets of curiosity with their preference to shock and surprise, often with an unsettling lack of orientation for the viewer. They were in a sense more overtly cosmological and direct in intent and certainly less taxonomic and analytical than museums and galleries became in the intervening centuries.

Projecting forward into the 21st century the “Capriccio” project has engaged thirteen artists to create artwork in response to the three themed galleries.

Capriccio is an Italian word with many meanings and connotations explored and exemplified by this diverse gathering of over 40 contemporary artworks.

Capriccio.

ca·pric·cio (k-prch, -ch-) n

1. Music (1690’s): An instrumental work with an improvisatory style and a free form. [Music: a lively piece composed freely and without adhering to the rules for any specific musical form].

2. A prank;(1660’s) a caper, a passionate fight; tantrum, infatuation, fling, kink.

3. A whim. Fanciful plaything

4. A painting or other work of art representing a fantasy or a mixture of real and imaginary features. from It. “sudden start or motion,” apparently from capro “goat,” from L. capreolus “wild goat.” “caprice” (c.1600).

 

Jennifer Leggett

Jennifer Leggett

Jennifer Leggett

Capriccio, [departing from the definition above] is a term providing a broad way of surveying these particular artists. The thirteen ‘Capricci’ are artists who have defined their artwork with a lack of devotion to conventional perception. They find far-reaching ways to upturn our way of seeing the world.

For this exhibition the word capriccio is intended to convey the urgency and the lightness of touch shown by these artworks. Capriccio is both, a jolt of unmediated passionate expression, and a fanciful whim. This paradoxically ephemeral and enduring mode in visual art is as compelling today as it was for Oscar Wilde in the 19th century when he wrote “The only difference between a caprice and a lifelong passion is that a caprice lasts a little longer”.

Colleen Boyle

Colleen Boyle

Colleen Boyle

Capriccio juxtaposes the ambitious projections and the everyday failings of human nature. This dichotomy was noted in Shakespeare’s London by advisers commending a Wunderkammer to a prince.

“And so you may have in small compass a model of universal nature made private.” (Extract from the Gesta Grayorum compiled by Francis Bacon circa 1594).

The 21st Century finds us in a state of dynamic and at times volatile change. “Capriccio” engages this ‘world in flux’ and delves into the Wunderkammer as a space of universal and private revelation.

 

Participating artists:

Anthony Abell

Colleen Boyle

Penny Byrne

Renato Colangelo

Sarah Edwards

Sione Francis

Rod Gray

Ben Healley

Jennifer Leggett

Anthony Mercuri

Arthur Michalopoulos

Brendon Taylor

Jane Walton

Curated by Rod Gray

Visit the Capriccio blog.