(Australia 1957– )
25.3 x 25.3cm image; 27.8 x 27.8cm sheet
Anne Zahalka’s work can be closely related to images from the past. Among her most well known are photographic reformulations from the canon of art history. Re-staging images from the Flemish masterpiece ‘The Arnolfini Portrait,’ Jan van Eyck, 1434, to photographer Max Dupain’s ‘Sunbaker’ 1937, Zahalka has unsettled image hierarchies.
She has exhibited widely in Australia and abroad, in exhibitions including ‘Supernatural artificial’ at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Japan, 2004 and ‘Fieldwork: Australian art 1968 – 2002’ at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2002; she was also the recipient of an Australia Council Fellowship in 2000.
‘Allure’ and ‘Rhetoric’ 1994 combine images of hands in various gestures with symbolically charged objects and text. They are related to six other works, titled ‘Assert’; ‘Sincerity’; Confident’; ‘Restrain’; ‘Open’ and ‘Silence’. They are also more broadly related to a work in the Gallery’s collection from the series ‘Gesture’, ‘The Merchant’s Agenda’ 1994.
Collaging imagery from medieval European painting, ‘Allure’ shows a woman’s hand reaching toward an apple on a black background. The apple combined with a feminine hand recalls the biblical story of Eve. In contrast ‘Rhetoric’ depicts a pair of masculine hands juxtaposed with a gun, set on an orange background. There is a gendered subtext here: by invoking art-historical representations of gesture, Zahalka references the prescriptive notions of gender that are manifest in Western art history.
While critically engaged with the frames of art history, these works also have a delicate beauty, and manifest what curator Jim Logan described as ‘Gesture as an outward expression of the soul’ (J Logan, ‘Gesture: towards a lexicon’ Anne Zahalka Sydney: RoslynOxley9, 1994, np)
Loveart: the Love collection, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre & Liverpool Regional Museum, 03 Dec 2010–20 Feb 2011.