Elizabeth Newman: Bodies of thought

7 - 21 July 2021
Philip Martin Gallery is proud to present “Bodies of thought,” an exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Melbourne-based artist Elizabeth Newman. A surge in exhibitions, catalogs and essays, and interest from artists, curators and collectors has provided new context for Newman's work and place as one of the most important Australian artists working today.
For over four decades, Elizabeth Newman's practice has defied easy categorization. "Elizabeth Newman occupies a singular place in Australian contemporary art," curator Naomi Evans writes in her essay for Newman's recent solo show, "Is that a No?," (Griffith University Art Museum, Brisbane, 2020). "Her use of familiar materials, presented in a minimalist way, is inflected with a brand of anti-authoritarianism that is both confounding and enjoyable.” The exhibition at Griffith University Art Museum, "Is that a No?," included painting, drawing, prints, arranged found objects, a hanging cut felt work, and a large, two-part freestanding plywood sculpture from which the exhibition took its title. The sculpture, "Is that a No?," served as both conceptual-minimalist edifice and an aperture through which to view the show - allowing viewers in a sense to frame their own experience from a variety of angles.
Newman’s open attitude towards the interpretation of her work purposefully mirrors her own experience in making it. “When I make an artwork, I experience a ‘beginning moment,’” Newman comments, “…probably all my work is about this moment of conjunction in which language divides being.” At stake here is the relation between art and cognition, and at the same time, the nature of creation and individual expression. Elizabeth Newman's artworks articulate basic truths about beauty, philosophy, and the concerns of everyday life, embodying both the thing at hand, and rejecting it, all at once. 
Elizabeth Newman's paintings create different kinds of painted space with unexpected juxtapositions of color. Via a range of mark-making, they explore the idea that our perception of things - visual and emotional - can be re-shaped, simply by revealing their elements. “I never try to consciously make a work about anything,” Newman comments, “I am not the active agent in the art making. I let the work make itself and show itself to me.” Emphasizing the fundamental elements of an object, such as the shape of the canvas, or the essence of a color, Elizabeth Newman's works strip away the extremities associated with meaning-making. In this sense, the works become focused, and void of distraction. Calling on gestural works such as John Cage’s “4’33””, Newman emphasizes the lack of structural space made for lack itself. By reducing the art object to its primary elements, she creates a space in which its meaning can be manifested. Newman equates this practice to saying “No.” “I still say ‘No’ to a lot of things,” she explains, “the fact of the ‘Untitled’ and just the rectangle – it’s a refusal of a sort isn’t it, because I’m refusing to say something. The work is about silence rather than chatter.”
Elizabeth Newman (b. 1962, Melbourne, Australia) studied at the Victorian College of the Arts (Melbourne, Australia). In 2021, her work will be the subject of a solo exhibition at Australia National University (Canberra, Australia). Newman’s work has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions at Griffith University Art Museum (Brisbane, Australia); State Library of Victoria (Melbourne, Australia); Darren Knight Gallery (Sydney, Australia); Neon Parc (Melbourne, Australia); David Risley Gallery (Copenhagen, Denmark); SpazioA (Pistoia, Italy); and group shows at such places as Monash University Museum of Art (Melbourne, Australia); Ian Potter Museum, University of Melbourne (Melbourne, Australia); Australian Center for Contemporary Art (Melbourne, Australia); and Heide Museum of Modern Art (Melbourne, Australia). Elizabeth Newman's 2021 solo exhibition at Griffith University Art Museum, "Is that a No?," was reviewed in Artforum. Catalogs on Newman's work include: "Is that a No?," Edited by Julie Ewington, text by Naomi Evans (Griffith University Art Museum, Brisbane 2021); "Texts," edited by David Homewood (Discipline, Melbourne 2019); and "More than what there is" edited by Fayen d’Evie and Elizabeth Newman, texts by Damiano Bertoli, Kate Briggs, Juan Davila, Michael Graf, Geoff Lowe (with Jacqueline Riva), Elizabeth Newman, Chris Sharp and Eve Sullivan (3-Ply, Melbourne 2013). Newman lives and works in Melbourne, Australia.
Elizabeth Newman’s exhibition at Philip Martin Gallery is on-line through July 21, 2021. Kristy Luck’s exhibition of new oil-on-linen paintings, "giving something a name doesn't make it real," is on view at the gallery July 10– August 14, 2021.
Philip Martin Gallery is open Tuesday - Saturday from 10-4 and by appointment. Pre-scheduled appointments are available, and walk-ins are welcome. To make an appointment, or to get additional images, or information please email info@philipmartingallery.com, or call 310-559-0100. Philip Martin Gallery is located at 2712 S. La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034 in the Culver City area of Los Angeles between Venice Blvd. and Washington Blvd., just south of the 10 Freeway.