Bachelor of Art (Fine Art) (Honours), RMIT
By Kevin Morgan Jones
Mass MeMo crew all sit in a pub afterward and only I order a beer. What is this? I thought we were writers now. No, no. It's not that serious. Just the RMIT grad show. The RMIT grad show Honours 2021.The same year I finished Honours at Monash. RMIT is different. Different in that it's particular. Particular in that it is unique. RMIT shows always feel like RMIT shows. But what does that even mean? I think we can agree, If RMIT was a house in Hogwarts, it would be Hufflepuff. Yes? But what does that even mean?
It has to be The Architecture. That, combined with its milieu locale. Could you imagine being around, being within those inCorrigible / labyrinthine / pastiche / eclectic / allegorical monsters each day? All those corridors and rooms and views? (Many studio views in RMIT are of RMIT.) It’s a studio metaverse. Not to mention all that commerce hammering around you like a migraine. DING DING! It’s a stressful place. It’s a unique place. It would do things to you, all that PoMo. It stacks up the affects. It must colour one’s perception.
Holly Goodridge’s work I misjudged at first as being yet another Oedipal thrall in RMIT’s postmodern ReMIT. I thought, scanning the show, “here we go, here’s another RMIT grad, unafraid of colour, of painting-as-process, painting-as-thought, as paint being the unconscious guide into an expanded field undetermined ‘becoming.’” I thought, “here’s another student playing art attack whilst letting those buildings do all the conceptual hauling”.
I dredged through those terms that came to mind. “Flux, art-encounter, serendipity, free-association, memory”. I felt I was going back in time (which I often feel at RMIT), to a time where art and art practice meant you just had to make art. It wasn’t so tricky, so clever then. Like my time at TAFE, all those moons ago, when you could just make, and thinking and writing weren’t institutionally mandatory.
And then I thought, “You fucking bastard, KMJ”. You absolute Prick. Acting like another VCA alumni patrician. Thinking you’re so bloody clever. Just because you’re afraid of colour. Dig deeper. Have a real look. Have a better think. Use less italics perhaps. Wasn't that what was so wrong with Hufflepuff—that they weren’t afforded character development? They weren’t ever given a chance. JK.
And so, I refigured. And I’m glad I did. And this is my two cents:
I’ve always thought of the Kafkaesque as being in black-and-white. After seeing Holly Goodridge’s paintings, I now believe it can exist full colour. This isn’t to say Goodridge’s paintings are joyless. No, no, no. Not at all. For if there was no joy in the Kafkaesque, there would surely be no joy left in our bureaucratised little lives. If I complained earlier about RMIT’s oppressive architecture, then Goodridge’s paintings provide a perfectly camouflaged portal out. She sees the light. The canvases may look like a new RMIT building, but trust me, these canvases usurp all that style with depth. Literally.
Goodridge’s painted portals (four life-sized acrylics on canvas, installed on the wall and the floor) are bright, big, and lary. Think of a Chagall background torpedoed with 240V from a faulty Memphis Design lamp. Their gravity equals their colourful screech. The pictures pull at you, yell at you into their wild, colourful bureaucracy, but also contort themselves/torment themselves as objects.
These pictures are curious, as curious as growing pains are, inside and out.
Stretcher bars too big for some canvases taunt the picture sque-ways, whilst on others, canvas detaches from the bars only to vine around them. There are places to go in these pictures, both for us and for the pictures themselves. They aspire for something else, somewhere else. (beyond RMIT?). And it is exactly this prescience, this next-ness that frees them from the remit I just spoke of. For what I see is that Goodridge’s pictures are pictures aware of their surroundings. Aware of their parents. And I don't think this story is Oedipal, if such a thing is even possible. I think Goodridge’s work can escape. God, they’re in so many processes of escape!
If postmodernism is to be lamented for its emphasis on polemical discursive surfaces over depth; of style over content; of the total transformation of reality into images, then I think Holly Goodridge and her compositions / contrapositions has played a deft game of participating in whilst simultaneously exposing these tropes. Despite their visual extroversion, there is a subtle awareness, humour and critique which pays homage to but also farwells the Storeyed Halls of that unique institution.
So, Bravo Holly Goodridge! Congradshowlations on your completion of Honours during the virus and The Architecture! I look forward to what comes next. Stay strong! The art world is merciless, and the Huffle is real.
Kevin Morgan Jones graduated in Drawing and Printmaking at VCA in 2015 and completed his honours in fine art at Monash in 2021. kevinmorganjones.com