What does Collins Street look like at 5pm in 2020 lockdown? And how did Dan Andrews manage to stand in front of Victorians every day for 120 days? In 20-20 Hindsight : A Melburnian Perspective, James Yuncken explores Melbourne's extended lockdown and reflects a uniquely Melburnian voice on the social and political climate that was 2020. Simultaneously, it's a 'compare and contrast' with select John Brack paintings from the 1950s. The exhibition consists of just five works.
In Press Conferences, a staggering 6m by 2m composition created in collaboration with Gregory Vasey, the 120 days that Daniel Andrews stood and answered questions until the journalist had no more is shown. One image from each of those 120 days that we were glued to these press conferences trying to make sense of what was happening. The only piece to not contrast Brack's work, it owes its genesis to Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans.
North of the border, Gold Standard brings to life Scott Morrison's swipes at Daniel Andrews through his praise of NSW - now a much different picture in 2021. In this acrylic painting on board, Gladys Berejiklian and Morrison substitute Brack's 'Jockey and his Wife'.
From this, other John Brack paintings suggested themselves for re-visitation.
Calling to an international influence on our political climate, Brack's 'Telephone Box' is transformed into Social Media, a digital collage piece showing Donald Trump in place of the lady with the curlers in her hair. Trump's hypnotic effect on his supporters internationally persisted in the run up and aftermath of his presidency, but his detractors see him as merely an entitled version of that lady in her telephone box.
In Yuncken's Collins St, we look into the foyer at 356 Collins St, just near where Brack used to meet up after work before going for a drink. There are few people inside. They wear masks: just one passer-by in the street, the plane trees burst into leaf on this November afternoon. The foyer windows reflect the view of the street that is much like the one depicted in Brack's 'Collins St., 5pm', the level of detail akin to the information overload we were subject to daily - from the press conferences and Trump's social media.
The final piece, Hat Shop recalls Brack's Menswear - two very different interiors and leaving two very different impressions.
The exhibition will be available to view in the gallery at fortyfivedownstairs, as well as online. The exhibition will include public programming in the form of an artist's talk and walkthrough. Details to be announced.
James Yuncken, August 2021