Posted on February 19, 2014
Undercoat reviews Supergraph: Contemporary Graphic Art Fair 2014.
‘The exposure I’ll get from this definitely makes it worth it,’ says Anya Brock, who’s standing in front of me at the inaugural Supergraph. ‘I’ve been selling prints every day, but this is really all about getting my name out there.’ I ask if she’s keen to come back next year. Artistic swag: ‘It really depends what I’m doing in Melbourne.’ I like that answer. I like her zebras. I babble a bit more. I go looking for the coffee stand.
Anya is one of 87 (says the event website) exhibitors at Supergraph 2014, Australia’s Contemporary Graphic Art fair held in Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building. There’s a lot going on here, but having spent enough time in this building rubbing my eyes through uni exams, it’s a welcome change. Perhaps the biggest change from my exam days is the level of professionalism on show. Only the briefest of glances tells me this is where good artists come to show off.
Jesse McIntosh knows this, which is why his collective, Savage Society, are nestled in between racks of their creative tees in the centre of the hall. I ask him what the go is.
‘We’re getting unknown work out there, and a lot of our designs are actually from people exhibiting here,’ he points at a few shirts emblazoned with intricate drawings of detached animals. ‘These are from Jenny Zhao, who’s exhibiting over there,’ he waves somewhere behind him. ‘She drew a few of these here too [there’s a number of little cards set up on a pedestal], we’re running a competition out of these and giving a few things away’ he ajoins, ‘yeah, It’s been pretty good so far’. Would Jesse come back next year? He’s unsure, but he sees why it’s been very well attended.
I browse like I’m in a supermarket (presumably not where the organisers got the name from). A few works catch my eye, like Nick Baillie’s Pixel Guy, because my dream collection of pixelated 8-bit knitted jumpers will never be enough. I also appreciate Will McKenzie’s Archetype. The simplicity of line in much of the work on display is perhaps the only thread of consistency across the collections on show. I wonder if trends are not as easy to break away from as many of these young, fringey designers may think, or may want. I’m then stuck staring at Stuart Ringholt’s Street Fighter. I feel under pressure. I read the accompanying essay and understand why.
Before heading off, UK-born artist Susie Wright tells me briefly about the likelihood of kicking off Australia’s first open access printmaking studio in Melbourne. On the back of the success of the London Print Club, I’m not surprised the idea is exportable, and looking at her work I’m not surprised when she breaks off our conversation to sell a print of a bear she calls ‘Barnaby’. She assures me that the buzz around the printmaking project is exciting her. I won’t be surprised if that excitement becomes a reality very soon.
But that’s all the colour I have time for, and after getting vaguely lost among an army of fast-food trucks, I find the exit. As the unmissable yellow signage fades into the twilight, I even find a few little somethings tucked under my arm. Supergraph has done it’s business for 2014, and I’ve had an awesome little day out.
Eric Brotchie is the Scribbler at Undercoat.