Among the nimble riot of the Hip Hop Festival next door, the Anna Schwarz Gallery has filled one of the CarriageWorks' concrete bays with glowing windows and ethereal frames of light. Perth native Brendan Van Hek's solo exhibition Some Kind of Love Story is a collection of sculpture made mostly from neon bulbs. The exhibition takes its cues from an Arthur Miller play of the same name, which laid two stock characters across a hard-boiled detective story. For Van Hek, the two-tone mismatch of the play's lovers are reflected in the skewiff colours and shapes that make up his sculptures.
The pieces are spread out over the gallery's expansive floor. In the centre sit spare metal frames hung with coloured fluorescent tubes. It feels like someone was halfway through setting up a spartan and very clean laboratory. The frames get lost in the grey and gravel floors, while the light hangs in the air, waiting for the room to come to life again. Along the left-hand wall, pairs of neon-lit portholes shimmer and burn. Each is arranged in a duet of colours — white and beige, pale and deeper blue, cheek-pink and red, yellow and yolk-yellow, sea-Green and sky-blue, purple and flamingo.
Given that the exhibition explores mismatched relationships, it's not out of place that Some Kind of Love Story sits slightly crookedly in its surroundings. Anna Schwarz is good gallery space, but extraordinarily large. The metal frames seem to get lost in this vastness, and it would have been good examine Van Hek's lights in more intimate surrounds. Nonetheless, the sculptures don't lose their strange mechanic, and the lights still own that eery, super-real feel that neons do. There may be a lot of space between them, but Van Hek's pieces are worth ambling around.
Image by krossbow.