Paul Bai & Dirk Yates

19 August

October 7, 2023

Pestorius Sweeney House

We are pleased to announce a new exhibition by Brisbane artist Paul Bai, who has shown his work regularly at the Pestorius Sweeney House now for over 20 years, most recently in 2020.

Bai’s latest exhibition features only four works. Selected from the artist’s studio by former Institute of Modern Art director, Nicholas Tsoutas, this limited selection serves to isolate and highlight Bai’s key work groups: the black double-dots titled ‘The Infinite Distance Between Two Points’, which are here presented in the form of a framed limited edition print; the perceptually challenging horizon works that are more commonly realised on paper, either as drawings or prints, but in this instance we have a painting on a shaped plywood support; and last but not least the paintings with thin pine frames that seem to be in the process of breaking free from their more customary moorings.

To the extent that this is a representative sampling of Bai’s studio practice, the exhibition is a survey of sorts. In his short text for the exhibition, Tsoutas writes that “Bai’s painting seems to explore a third spatial moment or position between conventional spatial dialectics, such as inside and outside, up and down, here and there, abstract and physical, virtual and actual, both in his systematic simplicity of forms and his attitude of precision in the use of geometry, space and proportion.” The curator is undoubtedly correct in this brief summation of what the artist seeks to achieve. However, to get a real sense of what is at stake here a visit to the show, where the Tsoutas’ erudite musings will be available to read, is necessary.

Paul Bai was born in Tianjin He migrated to Australia in 1988 and studied at the Queensland College of Art, where today he is a popular and influential lecturer. The artist’s exhibition practice has included institutional solo exhibitions at Sydney’s 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art. He has also been included in

numerous important thematic and survey exhibitions, including at QAGoMA, ACCA, Singapore Art Museum, Guangdong Museum of Art and the Museum of Brisbane, while next month, QAGOMA will present a recently acquired double-dot work in Living Patterns: Contemporary Australian Abstraction (23 September 2023 – 11 February 2024).

In addition to the Paul Bai exhibition, we are presenting the third in our series of 1+1 displays, which see local architects activating the narrow passage behind the stairhall gallery by pairing one of the original 1965 working drawings for the Pestorius Sweeney House with a vintage photograph of it. The new display by Dirk Yates of Speculative Architecture builds on those of his predecessors in the series (Jason Haigh and Larry Weston), highlighting the honeycomb brick walls that wrap the courtyard, its perforations subtly echoing the proportions of the recessed voids of the two-level house behind.

Paul Bai (curated by Nicholas Tsoutas)

1+1: Dirk Yates (Speculative Architecture)

Opening drinks: Saturday 19 August, 6–8pm

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