Colin Reaney and Karee Dahl

Smith and Stoneley, Brisbane

In the collaborative work of Colin Reaney and Karee Dahl an aesthetic relationship is asserted which is both independent and complementary. Their recent exhibition was mapped out like a dartboard; each artist established the singular aspects of his and her work along the walls (the periphery), while the centre of the gallery space revealed the intersections between their practices.

Dahl's medium was synthetic fur, coloured in baby hues of blue and pink. Upon one wall, a single-curved sculpture lay flush against the wall with the letters 'BUMP' shaved into the material. Here, the literal annunciation of the physical properties of the sculpture proffered an appreciation of the fluffy formality which comprises Dahl's creativity. Nearby, a series of pink fur pockets emptied themselves out into the space. These loosely stitched pockets looked as vulnerable as an underfed rabbit from a Beatrix Potter book. But this is an illusory sentiment which the medium of fluff connotes—illusory, because fluff, being the stuff of toys, has the capacity to trigger aspects of modern childhood which are essentially artificial. The sad conclusion to this could be that even one's earliest memories can be confused with superficial pleasures. That which we are nostalgic about is already tainted.

Rolladoors by Reaney lined the opposite wall, according to the artist's logic of chrome handles and trolley wheels. The doors were grey and monochrome, with silver wheels drilled in beneath. Some of the doors had chrome handles attached at the face. These industrial attachments shifted the meaning of the artwork into a functional realm dictated by ease of movement and storage. This could infer a disillusioned view of current processes in the creation of art. A friend recently remarked upon how rare it is nowadays for an artist to invest a year in one work—a sentiment of which Reaney seems to be well aware. In a society in which an artist may have eight exhibitions in eight weeks, the status of art objects is necessarily bound to their logistical possibilities—not unlike stage sets which are wheeled on and off stage during a theatre performance.

The catch is that these were monochrome paintings. Since Malevich 's early twentieth century geometric abstractions, monochromes have boasted a capacity to invoke contemplation. Reaney, however, portrayed the moment when a monochrome is finally ushered into the gallery on wheels; the suggestion being that no matter how potent an artwork's metaphysical qualities, it will be ultimately rolled right out the door, in much the same manner a shopping trolley quietly re-joins the long queue outside a supermarket.

It was towards the centre of the gallery that the practices of the two artist began to converge. A monochrome by Reaney leaning on four wheels was painted the same colour pink with which Dahl had fashioned the synthetic sculptures. Besides this was a large pink cube by Dahl with a blue ledge resting upon it. The viewer was led to consider whether these sculptures by Dahl were a response to the forms and shapes familiar to Reaney's vocabulary. In any case, it was at this point that it became clear that both artists were working with materials associated with the general pace of consumer culture.

As a collaboration, what interests the artists is the effect of the gallery as an alternative location for their production. This exhibition dealt not so much with what happens to the work in the gallery, but with the history of objects which are mostly stored in a studio, or in this case, a lounge room. From this approach, the audience was able to glean a little more about the nature of what it implies to be an artist today. In this healthy example of artistic interdependence, existing notions of heroic individuality were blurred leaving room for an insight into a richness of the private interactions that operate within relationships. The issue of comparing the two artists was not so persistent as the act of recognising the workings between the two.