Saturday, 24 February 2007

George Gittoe's No Exit exhibition, which I visited last weekend, has been reviewed in The Sydney Morning Herald by resident art critic John McDonald.

He's not exactly complimentary.

On the other hand, it's possible to over-dramatise events, to turn quotidian horrors into theatrical extravaganzas. And here lies the difference between Gittoes's drawings and his recent documentary films, Soundtrack to War (2004) and Rampage (2006). Where the drawings are surreal and mannered, the films take us into the everyday world of the US forces in Iraq or the black kids who live in Miami's "Brown Sub", which is in effect a segregated village terrorised by unending turf wars between gangs.


[I]n the same manner as the films, the cumulative effect of one grisly, unstructured scenario after another places a heavy burden on the viewer. This is very oppressive show and the title is entirely justified.

The picture shown is Blood on the lyrics (portrait of Marcus Lovett). It is a nice figurative drawing in ink that captures the personality of the young man, a resident of the Brown Sub in Florida where Gittoes went to make the second movie in an anticipated trilogy. It is dated 2004.

Unlike most of the works in this exhibition, the portrait shown here is not a rendition of violence and war. It is a quiet observation of youth, and that's why I liked it so much. The exhibition runs until 4 March.

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