Founded in 2010 by Alexander Mitchell, Ghostpatrol, James Reka, Rone and Meggs, Collingwood’s Backwoods Gallery has manifested itself as one of the leading independent contemporary art galleries for young Australian and international street art. Over the month of September, the gallery hosted an evocative and powerful collection of new works by Japanese-born and Melbourne-based street artist Hiroyasu Tsuri (TwoOne). Entitled ‘Seven Samurai’, the exhibition was clearly inspired by the Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 samurai epic movie and explored “the psyche of the film’s seven protagonists, approaching the heroes not as warriors, but rather culturally-significant character archetypes”. Reexamining and reinterpreting these traditional archetypal images throughout his paintings and small sculptures, TwoOne ingeniously creates a completely new series of “psychological portraits” while demonstrating an ability to hold deep knowledge and reverence for Eastern philosophy and Western culture.
One month later, Backwoods gallery opens a new, comprehensive group exhibition titled “A Study of Hands”. Curated by Alexander Mitchell, the show brings together a collection of hand studies on paper and sculptures by nationally and internationally recognized artists and illustrators including Anthony Lister, Ashley Wood, Dave Kinsey, Haroshi, James Reka, James Greenaway, Kid Zoom, Mark Bode, Shohei Otomo, Twoone, Luvvine (Syunoven + Usugrow) and Yuske Imai.
“This is the first in a series of study collections that I plan to produce over the next ten years”, says the curator, Alexander Mitchell. “The idea behind this long term project is to build a library of studies, each focused on different subject and each created by a group of leading contemporary artists who excel in some way in that subject. My goal is that in years from now we will be left with an historic archive, a tool for critics and artists which will help them contextualize and understand our generations of artists in a unique way. For the first collection of studies, held here in Australia during 2012, I’ve chosen hands. The main reason for this choice was the work that Usugrow, Anthony Lister and Yuske Imai submitted to a previous and unrelated group show that James Reka and I organized in 2009. Together these pieces, which all coincidently featured hands, unified these artists while at the same time expressed how different their individual approach to the subject was. As the intermediary between the artists mind and the artwork, hands also have a deeper symbolism which is fitting for this show.
I’ve wanted to get this project going since that moment in 2009 but found myself swamped with work at Backwoods Gallery. It wasn’t until 2012 with the help of an grant from the Copyright Agency that I was able to put this show together and finally get the ball rolling on the A Study Of project. I’m lucky to have the three artists who inspired the idea, Usu, Lister and Yusk in this show again alongside an excellent crew of artists, all of whom are as enthused by the idea as I am. I have to say that having both Dave Kinsey and Ashley Wood in a group show is also truly a personal priviledge. Over the next decade the remaining study shows will include eyes, the human body, color, movement and so on. To be honest, I’m still a bit shaky on what exactly all the studies will be, but it will come together organically. Flexibility is a nice luxury to have when starting on such an epic mission. As more artists, galleries and press begin to support the project I hope that the scope of A Study Of project series will grow into a globally recognized project. So, enjoy this collection and as a collector please consider the individual pieces in terms of their integral role in a potentially important project.
Check out our photo set from Seven Samurai and A Study of Hands below.