Public artist Rowena Martinich has transformed the street front façade of Euroluce into a canvas for one of her signature translucent paintings, Chromaphos. To the viewer, this window is like a lense, through which we look into a world of objects that are presented to us. To be viewed from inside Euroluce as well as from the street, Chromaphos frames both inside and out, redefining our sensory relationship to what lies beyond.
The brush stroke is a provocative mark, evoking a physical presence of the artist at work. Within the artmaking process Martinich employs an eclectic mix of artist’s tools, from calligraphy brushes to domestic brooms to agricultural chemical pump and spray devices. Martinich constructs a composition of gestural marks in vivid colour. These compositions are then cut up and reassembled onto the glass curtain façade. The glass skin of the building becomes the canvas and the play on light and depth encompasses the interior space. In the afternoon the room is awash with a colourful shadow play and as evening falls the objects of the room come alive, their sculptural forms framed by a wave of translucent brush strokes.
From the outside, Chromaphos is a burst of shape and colour flowing out across the surface of the window, layering a composition of gestural line and shattered geometric shapes across the glass. From behind the glass, framed by the colourful sprawl, hang the sculptural forms of the lighting installations. The limitations and possibilities of unconventional materials explored by Martinich in Chromaphos is also a recurring theme of contemporary design, in the lighting installations and objects of Euroluce.
While the painterly surface and the individual placement of the collage elements have a subtlety and texture that we want to get close to, an installation of this scale cannot help but communicate with it’s greater context. Juxtaposition of object and surface draw us to consider both as elements of the greater architectural environment. Surrounding buildings are framed from the internal space and reflected on the external surface. The immediacy and flow of Martinich’s geometric collage reflects underlying gestures in the facade detail and composition of neighbouring Federation Square. At the other end of the institutional spectrum, Martinich’s gestural mark and bold colour also draws associations with our richly decorated laneways, the hidden gems of the city.
Sarah Bowe is a Melbourne Based Arts Writer, Artist and Designer.