A refreshing exhibition full of joy, colour and life.
Image via http://pica.org.au
Upon walking into PICA and catching the first glimpse of the inexplicably happy When Happiness Ruled, I immediately declared that this was the best thing I have ever seen at PICA. Given the tremendous volume and quality of that space, and the stacks of funding and hype surrounding the ‘Contemporary’ venue, often their shows are disappointing, but Pip & Pop's work was pure silver lining.
Though not without its faults, this refreshing exhibition is full of joy and hope and colour and life, a joy to behold, discover, and visually poke about in. Of course one also wants to desperately puts one face in it, as a hefty percentage of the work is made of sugar, but sadly that is not allowed.
This is in fact one of the areas which could perhaps be improved, as pastel-coloured sugary mountains are quite attractive to tots of all sizes, so attendees and staff alike seem to spend a good percentage of their time at the exhibit watching children cross the almost invisible threshold while parents try and wrangle them to a safe distance, which is distracting and unfortunate. Displaying everything a couple of feet higher would have both eliminated this problem, and bought the intricate concoctions closer to one's own face, which would be a win win.
Pip & Pop, aka Tanya Shultz is a Perth artist who creates expansive and colour-saturated landscapes influenced by folk tales and utopian stories from multiple cultures. When Happiness Ruled is a symphony of be-glittered clay, plastic flower-covered air dried clay, resin covered in fluff, sprinkles, foam, crazy eyes, toy animals, miniature cakes and sugar piles, some of which are heaped onto robotic components so that they slowly move and spin on occasion.
The motive is fun, and it is quite restorative for the soul not to be thrown into yet another statement of political instigation, human anguish and creative dissent. It is also the only PICA exhibition that looks better in real life than it does on the poster, so points for that alone.
The imagined hours and detail this work took to construct are breath-taking, and the topography created really is a miniature mise en scène for viewers to play out childhood and child-like adult fantasies alike. Looking at the artist's previous work and exhibitions, it is more than a little disappointing to see various replicated versions of essentially the same thing, as there is so much more scope for an even larger vision, especially in a glorious space like PICA, but this is art that makes you walk away smiling and lights a flicker of hope for a better world in your heart. Well done Pip & Pop, well done.
3 ½ stars out of 5
Pip & Pop. When Happiness Ruled
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts
Perth Cultural Centre
12 November – 24 December 2016