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Amber Koroluk-Stephenson: Quixotic Habitation

Urban utopias with an edge.
By Rebecca Speer
October 29, 2013
By Rebecca Speer
October 29, 2013

Amber Koroluk-Stephenson is one to watch. The Tasmanian artist is showing her most recent works at MOP gallery and they're an absolute delight.

Her paintings of urban utopias are ever so slightly undercut by a subtle sense of uneasiness. The artist draws inspiration from her native Tasmania, presenting large, brightly coloured canvases filled with neat brick houses, overly manicured gardens, girls sunbaking and little kids about to take a dip in the backyard pool.

Upon closer inspection, the suburban 'utopias' depicted begin to fray at the edges. Seats are overturned, the sunlight is a little too bright, and the picture planes shift ever so slightly, giving a fabulous sense of discord. The apple tree is laden with far too much fruit, and it's all falling neatly onto the blanket below.

The title of the series, 'Quixotic Habitation', also points to the imperfection of the painted utopias, along with the titles of the individual works. Staging of an illusion, Prelude at the Garden's Edge and In the Interlude - there's something a bit filmic about the scenes. They feel a little staged, a little too studied.

Also on show in the gallery are small, somewhat abstract paintings by Mason Kimber. The dreamlike works investigate 'architecturally remembered space'. His use of colour is terrific. You could spend quite a while gazing at these pieces.

MOP is one of Sydney's best artist-run spaces. Their shows are consistently great and act as a vital springboard for emerging and unrepresented artists. With a pretty ambitious exhibition program - up to 35 shows a year – the volunteer-run space usually exhibits several artists at a time, creating a vibrant dialogue between works from different artists. The gallery sits on Abercrombie Street, Chippendale, a particularly urban and gritty part of Sydney. It's interesting to look at Koroluk-Stephenson's lush green works examining suburban utopias before wandering back out of the gallery onto the grimy, grey street.

Image: Staging of an Illusion, Amber Koroluk-Stephenson. Image courtesy of the artist.

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