A Familiar Place I Don’t Know
February 6-27, 2022
Selected night drawings 2018-2020
Charcoal & pastel on paper, 28x38 and 38x28cm
house front door
1 Newman St Forestville
SA 5035 Australia
Sunday & Monday 12-4pm
or by Instagram msg appointment @project6.88
Over the past 30 years Anthony Pelchen has worked across mediums and art forms but always with an anchor in drawing.
This small selection of drawings from 2018-20 is from a considerable series made at night since 2011. It the first time the night drawings have been exhibited.
The primary impulse behind all of Pelchen’s work is a compulsion to ritualise, through making and performing, what feel like threshold moments. Where and when there’s an acutely fine line between physical and psychological states, some sort of tipping point or a loaded situation where there’s little between laughing and crying. And increasingly he feels this is the nature of all moments.
The drawings both feed-on and mediate this for Pelchen. The wash of the usual stuff…one’s complex relationships with body, family, land, religion and spirit plus the year’s extras - pandemic, fires and floods, etc – provide no lack of creative fodder. All percolate continually and his drawings filter them into swirling hybrid environments: meltdowns of landscape, architecture, the body and something in between. Whether they tilt towards the dystopian or utopian, a path out or a tunnel in, it’s often hard to tell.
Pelchen works in a way so as to not know what will emerge. He sets up a ‘mess’ then sifts, edits and adds in cycles until something unanticipated and curious begins to appear. Then he runs with it. He revels in this not knowing and grabs onto the familiarity of the process, the absolute desperation and ‘rightness’ in dragging charcoal across paper and the exhilaration of jumping into an immersive dark well. The well is usually full, from the wash of the days, the weeks and the years.
Pelchen grew up in Horsham and studied at the Victoria College of the Arts 1989-92, after an "excruciating three-year performance" as a Chartered Accountant. Through the 1990s he exhibited widely in artist run, institutional and alternative spaces in Melbourne.
Prior to returning to the Wimmera in 2000, new friendships with Trance/Butoh performers Tony Yap and Yumi Umiumare seeded rich, ongoing relationships with Malaysia and Japan. For the last 20 years, travel between the Wimmera and these countries has been a critical counterpoint and portal to an ‘other’, as is his drawing. Associated projects include Pelchen's 3-year, 11-artist, Malaysia Australia Raft Project 2013-15, presented in Natimuk, Melaka and Melbourne – culminating as part of a global project Fluid States/ Performances of Unknowing.
Pelchen’s work is represented in public and private collections including the National Gallery of Victoria, Artbank, Horsham Regional Art Gallery, Australian Print Workshop, James Mollison Collection and the John McBride Collection.