(Australia 1984 – )
22.4 x 28.6 cm image; 26.1 x 32.5 cm sheet (irreg.)
‘Empty Studio’ continues Varga’s exploration of abstract interior landscapes. Maintaining the distinctive minimalist aesthetic of her earlier series ‘Placements’ (2005) and ‘Outside’ (2007), the artist arranges pieces of string, toy animals and other unimposing objects within a confined space just as an abstract painter would compose a canvas. Arts writer Ian Houston Shadwell (‘the art life’ blog, Nov 2009) has noted that the painterliness of Varga’s photography ‘is not the coy, artful, recreation of painterly techniques within another medium, but rather a deep sensitivity to the power of composition and her relationship to the studio as an expressive device.’
The small scale of Varga’s photographs demand an intimate viewing yet just as they draw us into their interior space, the flat plane of the photograph prevents this. An intriguing balancing act is developed within the images as they teeter between the sublime (heightened by the artist’s signature milky palette and subtle use of tone) and the gritty dimension of everyday space in which they are staged and to which we are returned by the whimsical punctuation of mundane objects and materials. The inherently push-pull nature of her work combined with an instinct for creating images that transcend their materiality suggests an artist keenly questioning the possibilities of the photographic medium. Varga’s images operate as portholes into an interior zone: physical, intellectual and spiritual.
Flatlands: photography and everyday space, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Sep 2012–03 Feb 2013
Flatlands: photography & everyday space, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Sep 2012–03 Feb 2013