Bachelor of Fine Art, MADA

By Vicki Nguyen

27 November 2022
  • Isabella Losch Hickey, Connie Hseuh, Ali Bagnato

Chaos is a cosmos and identity our universe. Navigating the trials and tribulations of life has only been exacerbated by the lockdowns and pandemic. Seeking forms of connection is an innate human need, finding pockets of joy and community a silver lining in the minefield of mundane existence.

The collection of works, both titled and untitled, by Bella Losch Hickey is a journey through the art-making process. Arriving at the intersection of painting, sculpture and found objects, the artist creates experimental and bold abstract works. At the whims of her intuition, Losch Hickey explores the pursuit of happiness. Encouraging the viewer to ride the waves of colours that runs through her collection of works, Daybreak, BLOC, and other untitled works land on the shore of art in an oasis of creativity.

Installation view of Bella Losch Hickey, Make soup not war, 2022, oil, mixed media, and found object on canvas, dimensions variable. Photo: Andrew Curtis.

Within the washes of deep reds, emerald greens, and navy blues, pops of bright yellow, pastel pinks and swirls of purple hook us into colourful clusters that take you into a world of disarray and emotion. Like Mark Rothko’s rectangular fields of colour, Losch Hickey stimulates us to dig deep and explore the constellations of sentiment that connect us to each other.

Connie Hseuh invites us to an unconventional picnic with a small coffee table littered with an assortment of sticker figures. Picnic with Creatures presents a configuration of vivid hanging marker drawings that shift and sway gently against the backdrop of plaid picnic blankets. The spaces and places depicted by Hseuh make up an Alice in Wonderland-esque installation that explores sociological connections and the intangibly wonderful aspects of human identity.

Connie Hseuh, Picnic with Creatures, 2022, marker on paper, sticker, and craft glue, dimensions variable. Photo: Andrew Curtis.

As the vibrant drawings move with the soft breeze, their interactions within the picnic setup influence a movement within us as spectators. Inspiring waves of nostalgia, Hseuh touches on the essence of feeling inherent in the human experience. Picnic with Creatures embeds a longing for connection with others, forcing us to reconnect with the one thing we enter and leave this world with, our personal identity.

Details of Ali Bagnato, At Homo, 2022, hand-constructed plywood installation, collage, hand-sewn textiles, painting and photography, dimensions variable. Photo: Andrew Curtis.

Ali Bagnato’s At Homo installation is an ephemeral exploration of the artist’s identity, queerness and life. Both expansive and intimate, the hand-constructed plywood house is filled with colourful and elaborate collage. The walls are adorned with painting, stickers, gems, fairy lights, diary entry quotes, hand-sewn textiles, books, and toys. A considered curation of various media, Bagnato’s installation astral projects us into the artist’s psyche. A vivid exploration of the queer self, At Homo is a unique investigation between identity and time.

Reminiscent of Paul Yore’s bright and lucid installations, Bagnato reimagines a child’s imagination to elicit memory and emotion from those who dare to traverse the landscape of the “messy” construction. Speed, distance, time – strings that connect us all, but how long are they? If linear time is a construct, Bagnato is the puppet master, and I am merely their puppet.

Losch Hickey, Hseuh and Bagnato join in their efforts to transcend physical limitations, enveloping us in a whirlwind of luminescent colours. Their works remind us that, amongst the chaos, we are united by what makes us unique and human.

Vicki Nguyen is an emerging curator based in Naarm. They are currently completing their Master of Art Curatorship at the University of Melbourne, and her practice is rooted in identity and lived experience as a first-generation Vietnamese Australian.

Memo Magazine, No. 1