Sutton Gallery is pleased to present Gone to see a man about a dog, a new body of work by Jon Campbell featuring a major large-scale painting, alongside a series of works made in collaboration with Stephen Bush.
Campbell and Bush met at RMIT School of Art in 1980 and a shared passion for painting and music has sustained their friendship ever since. In 2019, the pair initiated an artist swap between their respective galleries* and, seizing this opportunity to work collaboratively, began swapping paintings from various points throughout their careers for the other to work on. For Campbell, the resulting artworks speak as much to the post-punk cultural milieu of their art school years as they do to the critical concerns of contemporary Australian art and society.
The title of Campbell’s exhibition, Gone to see a man about a dog, is an idiomatic expression the artist recalls from his childhood in Melbourne’s Western suburbs. The phrase is commonly used to euphemistically excuse oneself, or to conceal any activity one would rather keep private.
The reconfigured vernacular in works such as It’s a world full of lying bastards (2017/2020) and Carry on like a pork chop (2020) hint at the artist’s attitude towards talking around the point. Yet it is precisely the equivocal nature of Campbell’s colloquialisms that give his art its demotic agency. Whether he alludes to the obfuscating language of our political elite, to the practice of truth-telling in Australian society more broadly, or to something else entirely – interpretations of Campbell’s artworks remain perennially up for grabs, holding the door open between the art world and the ‘stuff’ of Australian suburbia. This openness is reinforced aesthetically, as each work engages the viewer in a process of deciphering as we attempt to detangle positive from negative space and detach abstract from representational form.
*Stephen Bush is represented by Sutton Gallery, Melbourne. Jon Campbell is represented by Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney, where Bush will present his solo exhibition From the Rubber Room in September, 2020.
Carry on like a pork chop, Monash University Prato Centre, Prato, Italy, 2019; Gutted, Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney, 2019; Gutted, Gertrude Glasshouse, Melbourne, 2019; Rollercoaster: Jon Campbell, Darren Knight Gallery, Melbourne Art Fair, 2018; BALL YEAH: Selected works 1991 – 2016, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Victoria, 2018; MCA Collection: Jon Campbell, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2017; Drawing Wall #29: Jon Campbell, Shepparton Art Museum, Victoria, 2017; Same old bullshit, Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney, 2017; Afternoon Delight: Jon Campbell, Ilam Campus Gallery, School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, 2017; Absolutely Disgusting, Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, 2016; piss farting around, Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney, 2015; Darren Knight Gallery, Art Basel Hong Kong, 2015; BEWDYFUL, Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney, 2013; Just Sing What You Feel, NGVA, Federation Square, Melbourne, 2012-13.
With a little help from our Friends, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, VIC, Australia, 2020; Just Not Australian, Artspace, Sydney, NSW, 2019; Play On: The Art of Sport – 10 Years of the Basil Sellers Art Prize, UQ Art Museum, Brisbane, Australia, 2018; Geelong Contemporary Art Prize, Geelong Gallery, Victoria, 2018; The End of Time. The Beginning of Time. Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, 2017; Painting. More Painting, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2016; It’s gonna take a lotta love, Franklin Street Works, Stamford, Connecticut, USA, 2015; Dear Masato, all at once, Margaret Lawrence Gallery, VCA, Melbourne, 2014; Melbourne Now, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2013; Basil Sellers Art Prize, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne, 2012; Darren Knight Gallery at Auckland Art Fair 2011, Auckland, New Zealand, 2011.