Chelsea Gustafsson / Comfort Kills

Published by: Flinders Lane Gallery | 1-Aug-2019
The still burgeoning career of artist Chelsea Gustafsson reveals both a painter of technical skill and a person in possession of a sharp sense of humour. Exploring concerns both social and personal; be it ocean pollution, consumerist clutter or the virtue of Australia's native plant-life, Gustafsson utilises a visual language mixed with imagination and incongruity to speak affably of those issues facing contemporary society. In her latest exhibition, Comfort Kills, the seemingly benign and innocent domestic experience is used as a means to translate a complicit and critical worldview. @chelsea_gustafsson #artwork #comfortkills #realism #chairs #details #exceptionalandcollectable @flinderslanegallery
Venue: Flinders Lane Gallery
Address: Level 1, The Nicholas Building, 37 Swanston Street, Melbourne 3000
Deploying a heterogeneous collection of chairs, found discarded on roadsides or still in service within homes, Gustafsson creates a series of traditional still-lives verging on portraiture to subvert the seemingly innocent act of 'sitting'. Depicting these everyday physical supports and the sedentary act they represent as a form of social foolishness, the message behind this exhibition is at once both lighthearted and urgent; our lounging about might well bring about our downfall.

For Gustafsson, the chair possesses a warm familiarity, a playfulness and vibrancy that makes them a powerful motif, implicit in the domestic experience. Be it Dad's favourite armchair, the kitchen stool guests gravitate toward or the plastic chair offered at a friendly backyard BBQ, they each recall social interactions, economic circumstances, daily rhythms, and self expression. But they also call to mind frivolous time wasting. With titles like You Snooze, You Lose and Jason Reclining, it becomes clear that Gustafsson is not viewing the act of sitting as one of intense contemplation or social betterment. Held within each of her exquisitely detailed, gem-like panels, the artist's choice to upend her subjects, to jumble them with domestic flotsam, serves to depict the perils of procrastination, of laziness, of idle modernity. These chairs and the lives led while relaxing in them become total folly. (excerpt of essay by Phe Luxford, 2019.)

Having previously worked in film and television and as a graphic designer Gustafsson's twelve years working as a professional artist has seen her exhibit both nationally and internationally, and be announced as a finalist in the Hurford Hardwood Portrait Prize (2018), Percival Tucker Portrait Prize (2018), the Black Swan Prize (2018), the Kennedy Art Prize (2018), the Eutick Memorial Still Life Award (2018), the Metro 5 Art Award (2007), the John Leslie Art Award (2008), the ANL Maritime Art Prize (2009) and winner of Linden Postcard Show in 2010.

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