Christopher Zanko: Daily Dilemmas

7 February

February 27, 2024

Edwina Corlette Gallery

DAILY DILEMMAS is Christopher Zanko’s third solo exhibition at Edwina Corlette and is a show that subtly, yet decidedly shares with the viewer the lens through which the artist sees the world, and importantly, the streets, homes, and locale of his youth, and now his own young family’s upbringing. The title of this exhibition draws focus to the everyday, to the familiarity of one’s well-trodden surroundings, as well as the permanence and inevitable impermanence of the structures, shapes and colours that fuel a sense of home and belonging in these areas. Zanko addresses the dilemmas of suburbia in both a macro and micro sense. Large scale, these homes and blocks of land are part of a continuously sprawling and unavoidably changing landscape in a country with an ever-increasing need for abundant and sustainable housing. Small scale, there is deep thought about the immediate and the intimate and what will happen to these homes, memories, and community-driven traditions of the past to make way for innovation and economical use of space in the future. How do we preserve these structures and all they evoke in competition with this need?

It is in this newest body of work by Christopher Zanko, an artist based on Dharawal land in New South Wales, that an answer to this question is suggested through the offering of personal experiences, new perspectives, ideas, and musings on his iconic Australian suburban scenes. The snapshots and views of the homes, porch scenes and snippets of daily life in this exhibition are inspired by a slower tempo of viewing and creating, and as the audience, we are invited to join in at strolling pace. Works like Friday Drop Off and Friday Pick Up show up close, slowed down versions of these scenes, drawn from a time Chris was walking, instead of driving, with his daughter to preschool. With this latest offering, we also see a subtle lean toward abstraction with the close-up views of bathroom tiles, cropped perspectives of houses and with monochromatic works painted singularly to emphasise shadow and the visual language of texture that the artist continues to develop. Coloured borders refer to Chris’ own heritage through their ties to Eastern European folk art and cut-outs of a car and a keyboard fill the gaps in a way and insert themselves into the empty spaces of these suburban scenes. Throughout these works there is also an allusion to the always absent inhabitants of these spaces, which allows us to imagine ourselves in these nostalgic fragments of time.

Themes of permanence and change naturally exist in tandem in Zanko’s artworks and are represented through the artist’s purposeful marriage of medium and concept. The decision to carve and gouge these objects and vistas into wood imprints them forever and is a method of preservation that will perhaps outlast the structures themselves and the communities that surround them. Though apprehensive of it, Zanko does acknowledge change and accepts that it is an inevitable part of living in one location long enough to see it creeping in. To represent this, we see exaggerated texture and movement as well as variations in the colours of the leaves of the deciduous trees in works like Chimney, Autumn Skies which show the natural seasonal change from verdant greens to burnt umbers, symbolising the greater changes happening all around us.

DAILY DILEMMAS presents artworks that are born out of an innate desire to preserve memory and in doing so, give a long life to the iconic architecture of Australian suburbia as well as the communities they support and the memories and lifestyles they create. Chris explains “the main things that are going to change are the built environment and making works like this is a way for me to process that change happening around me and create a sense of stability and permanency.”

Eva Izabela Balog, 2023

Image: Ford Station wagon2023, acrylic on wood relief carving, 60.5 x 134.5 cm

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