Biography

Artist Statement 

2016: You and Me

 

" Holding back a branch as one meanders along a scuffed path through the bush, most wouldn’t give it a second thought. The Australian wilderness is rough and unruly - as eucalypts grow their bark shreds and falls, tea tree branches arch over boardwalks and native poa grasses spread, lashing at shins exposed in shorts or skirts or bathing suits. But within this touch, of fingertip caressing leaf and twig and seed pod, Gina Kalabishis feels alight at the beauty and celebration of life that surrounds her. Tamed yet also untameable, her work reflects the fact that our relationship with nature is joyous and testing.

Kalabishis often makes a pilgrimage to a closely-kept-secret camping ground, within a National Park on the south east coast of New South Wales. For her it is a restorative process – sometimes peaceful, other times more challenging, for when exposed to the space and silence one can finally process complicated thoughts. Although usually painting at her home nestled in Melbourne’s suburbs, where weatherboard terrace houses are often seen with silver princess gums standing like soldiers at their mailboxes, Kalabishis aches for this journey to where she can solely be immersed with nature, away from the ticking of pedestrian crossings.

After years of trying to harness these feelings within her practice, when contemplating this latest body of work the artist discovered the term ‘biophilia.’ Belonging, intimacy, touch, euphoria. These siblings to love all arise when an individual recognises a physical and emotional response to nature. German psychologist and sociologist Erich Fromm (1900 – 1980) penned the term in reference to being attracted to all that is alive and vital. Bjork, the ethereal Icelandic songstress released an album in 2011 titled Biophilia, exploring the link between nature, music and technology.

To explore this relationship in all of its intricacies Kalabishis juxtaposed elements of her city home and self with the wild and isolated landscape. Foraging for flowers, leaves and branches she tied, hung, and draped ikebana like arrangements, photographing them suspended in her surrounds – whether that be at home or in the wilds. Taking these photos back in to the studio she found herself inspired by Kandinsky and Rothko. Although this may seem an odd marriage – a realist painter finding a likeness within the work and concepts of pioneering abstract artists – it was their deep relationship with colour that inspired Kalabishis. Kandinsky (1866 – 1944) felt that deep blues – pthalo, ultramarine and lapis – were associated with the supernatural, and were calming and contemplative. Mark Rothko (1903 – 1970) also infused his abstract works with careful emotional colour contemplation. Kalabishis, in appreciation of these insights, has limited her palette in her major works to explore this also. Her luscious and smooth application of paint renders eucalypt leaves, lily pilly berries and bound twigs settled within their landscape in shades of only carefully considered hues. Blues as a nod to Kandinsky, pinks and browns as she explores love and intimacy and attempts to infuse her emotions by expressing them with tender colours that match.

With this new body of work Kalabishis also brings the element of flesh into her paintings. As though clothing the bones that once were made so prominent in her earlier works, the flash of flesh through beautiful foliage provides a lovely harmony to the human emotions and desires she is willing into her paintings. Teamed with titles referencing songs of love penned by Australian musicians by the likes of Paul Kelly, Neko Case, Max Richter and Nick Cave, You & Me, is exactly that. A love song to the Australian landscape, to the most petite leaves and the grandest of arbours, and the relationship that can be had with nature and within the self."

 

By Melanie Caple

 


HEARTLAND

2015

‘Gloomy and indigestibly stodgy’ is how art critic Robert Hughes famously described the paintings of Eugene von Guérard in his 1966 book The Art of Australia. Since then the nineteenth century émigré artist from Austria has been restored to the pantheon of artistic greats and Hughes himself has expired, and yet something of that ‘gloom’ remains imprinted on von Guérard and his contemporaries. 

In the paintings of Gina Kalabishis, which freely pay homage to the early colonial art of Australia, that so-called ‘gloom’ has been not so much intensified but redefined, into a celebratory reclamation of this heritage. Peering through the veil of shadows we discover moving epitaphs to love, friendship and community. As a kind of romantic social-humanist Kalabishis draws together various fields of art making into poignant and powerfully cohesive images. Combining von Guérard and Ikebana shouldn’t work but here it does—though neither are entirely orthodox in their depiction. Where once her lush botanic specimens occupied a shallow space of pure colour, Kalabishis has introduced details from iconic paintings by the heroes of Australian art—von Guérard, Streeton, Condor and McCubbin—to provide a background. Their icon status, however, has been dampened through a process of blurring and inversion, of both the original picture’s orientation and tone. The results are both disorienting and dreamlike—Kalabishis presents us with a curious hybrid of the visible and the invisible, as if our heroes have travelled through a glass darkly. The genres, also, are muddled, to effectively level the playing field against a spectral light that has no precedent in art. 

For Kalabishis—an Australian with Greek heritage living in Melbourne, with friends and family scattered near and far—‘Heartland’ is a place where all loved ones can gather. They unite just as the artist has united the fronds of her native plants, brought together against the odds in a common place. Kalabishis’ plants are mostly Australian native—hardy, tolerant and adaptable (just like Australians, she says)—but are shown in monochrome, where the darker tones might symbolise Aboriginal Australians, and the lighter tones the fair-skinned arrivals from recent centuries. The mid-tones are the ‘in-betweens’, where the two have merged. Their compositions are not formal, but recall instead the jumble of seaweed. 

The crisp, sharp detail of the botanical specimens contrasts with the out of focus landscapes behind. Both are subjects we commonly associate with sunlight—certainly within the Australian artistic tradition (think only of Streeton’s ‘Golden Summers’)—but here become otherworldly and ethereal. These are potent hearths for the imagination to flare; they double as memento mori for the natural environment, under threat from the agencies of man, and serve as a warning of what we stand to lose. Kalabishis is at once the funnel for the past traditions of art to coalesce, and a prophet of its demise. The inverted landscapes and suspended plants give rise to a sensation of imminent collapse. 

While not at the forefront of the artist’s intentions, there is an indelible sexual energy about these pictures. From the languid, curling leaves to the inviting openings and apertures to the velvety dark tones, we sense the proximity of heady primal urges. As images of sex and love, community and togetherness, and environmental catastrophe, there is much to discover (and continually rediscover) within these haunting and very beautiful paintings. Kalabishis presents the vision through the doorway; we have only to draw breath, step through and enter.

Simon Gregg

Curator, Gippsland Art Gallery

 


Gina Kalabishis’ work stares in stark wonder at the excess of nature, whether it be the glory of the watchful flower, the eye of which is the engulfed embodiment of our humanity, or a laughing cat’s guileless enjoyment of a catty joke that pokes fun at the seriousness of our endeavour, and opens our sophistication to ridicule.

She enfolds us in our own tumour growing unknown in our bodies, turning our words into the flowers of memory, and our memories into a history of  the interchange of decay and generation, in which terminal blood stains are also the buds of erotic longing. She takes us into the deep pathology of our wanton neglect, culpability and guilt, to a place where dead vines threaten to strangle the isolated garden and loneliness are the brief blooms overarched by tendrils weaving tight the darkness of the night, and where the truncated and stoppered tree, the parasitic plastic teat, and grafted skin become the futile dreams of reassimilation into a garden of the mind now as lost as that of the soul. And yet she is the archaeologist’s delight, for out of her dead, with their vulva mouths in the act of last screams, giving birth, support and succour to myriad forms of budding, she captures a life balanced tenuously on dry-stick bones floating magically in air with the aid of a few wires, our technological umbilical into the lives of others, into other worlds.

 

This is History in bone and paint made out of the strict discipline of Japanese flower arrangement, and the extreme formalism of western still life, hinting always at the pathology of these forms without denying their rapturous suppleness and fecundity. There is the clinician’s eye operating too, the perception of a scientific illustrator seeking art in description. She creates a visual field which is both very specific and filled with a painful joy of the moment, as if apprehension and understanding coincided sublimely; and allegorical and general, as if  there is a commonality in the intense ritual formality of a painted flower inscribing the after words of the dead. By these wires we hang in our history in nature, and in these ways Gina Kalabishis creates an art of the witness looking for beauty in his or her passing.

   

Gina Kalabishis delicately interlaces the structures of the human body, as represented by medical illustrations, and the extreme formalism of the still life. Kalabishis cleverly hints at the pathology of both kinds of formalism without denying their beauty and seductive qualities.

Dr. Ron Southern

Historian


 

Arete No.2 & Arete No.3 (see works 2016)

The word ‘arête’ has two possible meanings:

  • A sharp mountain ridge, sometimes formed by glaciers. These arêtes are high points in the geographic landscape, the towering natural monuments of the vertical world, whose grandeur can simultaneously demand our attention and overwhelm us with wonder.
  • In the Greek language, ‘arête’ is synonymous with ‘excellence’.  In philosophical terms, the word further embraces a sense that something is actively striving to be as good as it can be, as it yearns to reach its highest state and express the ideal form.

In Gina Kalabishis’ latest paintings - ‘Arête No.2’ and ‘Arête No.3’  - the artist melds together the two meanings of the word and continues her playful homage to colonial representations of landscape, incorporating intriguing and unexpected inclusions of sensuous human forms, while amping up the visual acuity of her Ikebana-like sculptures of Australian flora. 

 

Whether you’re inclined to swoon at natural beauty or seek after the ideal form, these two works show the artist striving to share with us her own painterly ‘arête’.

 

Bruce Copland, Curator

August 2016

 


Gina Kalabishis lives and works in Melbourne, she holds a Post Graduate Diploma of Visual Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Art (Painting) from the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne University and a Advanced Diploma of Arts (Electronic Design and Interactive Multimedia) from Victoria University in 2003. 

She has featured in solo and group exhibitions in Australia, Japan, Spain and America and has been a winner and finalist in a number of significant national art prizes.

 

(Winner)  2017 Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize  People's Choice Award, The Gallery @ Bayside Arts & Cultural Centre

(Winner)  2016 Bruny Island Art Prize People's Choice Award. Bruny Island, Tasmania

(Winner)  2014 The Rick Amor drawing prize,  The Art Gallery of Ballarat

(Winner) 2013 The Inaugural Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery (ACMD) Acquisitive Art Prize, St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne. 

(Winner)  2010 The Hellenic Museum and Bank of Cyprus Art Award, Melbourne

(Winner) 1994 Emanuel Hirsh Award. Victoria College, Prahran 

(Winner) 1993 Essendon Artist Award, Essendon Festival Art exhibition

 

(Finalist) 2017 Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize  People's Choice Award, The Gallery @ Bayside Arts & Cultural Centre

(Finalist) 2016 John Leslie Art Prize, Gippsland Art Gallery

(Finalist) 2016 Bruny Island Art Prize, Bruny Island, Tasmania.

(Finalist) 2016 Eutick Memorial Still Life Award, Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, Coffs Harbour

(Finalist) 2015 Eutick Memorial Still Life Award, Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, Coffs Harbour

(Finalist) 2014 Eutick Memorial Still Life Award, Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, Coffs Harbour

(Finalist) 2014 Adelaide Perry Drawing prize, PLC, Sydney

(Finalist) 2012 Rick Amor drawing prize, The Art Gallery of Ballarat 

(Finalist) 2011 ANL Maritime Art Prize and Exhibition, Mission to Seafarers 

(Finalist) 2011 The Top 20 Peoples Choice Award, The ANL Maritime Art Exhibition 

(Finalist) 2011 CPM National Print Awards, Tweed River Art Gallery 

 

In 2016 Kalabishis exhibited in the Kedumba Drawing Award  and also undertaken a Bundanon Trust Artist in Residence 

In 2013-14 she had undertaken a continuing access residency at the Harry Brookes Allen Museum for Anatomy and Pathology, Melbourne University, in 2014 an Art residency at  Caritas Christi hospice part of the Palliative Care arm of St Vincent's Hospital and in 2012 a residency at  The Mission to Seafarers, Melbourne.

Kalabishis has been a recipient of a number of commissions and grants and her work is held in international and Australian private and public collections.

Gina Kalabishis established Level 17 Artspace at Victoria University in 2008 and was the Gallery Director until 2011. 

 

Gina Kalabishis is represented by Flinders Lane Gallery.

 


 

BORN MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA 1970

 

STUDIES/QUALIFICATIONS

 

2003                  Advanced Diploma of Arts (Electronic Design and Interactive Multimedia) Victoria University

1999                  Certificate III in Small Business Management for Artists and Designers, RMIT

1996                  Post Graduate Diploma of Fine Art (Painting) Victoria College of the Arts, University of Melbourne

1993                  Bachelor of Fine Art (Painting) Victoria College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, Prahran

1989                  Advanced Certificate in Art and Design Footscray College of TAFE

 

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS / PROJECTS

 

2017                  Niteart, Once in a blue moon, Flinders Lane Gallery

2016                  You and Me, Flinders Lane Gallery

2015                  Heartland, Flinders Lane Gallery

2015                  Australian Free Style,Hotel Pacific, Kanazawa, Japan

2014                  Breath, The Art Vault, Mildura

2014                  Breath, Nite Art: Harry Brookes Allen Museum for Anatomy and Pathology, Melbourne University 

2013                  Love and Limerence, Catherine Asquith Gallery

2011                  Imperfect Bloom, Level17 Artspace, Victoria University

2009                  City of Whitehorse Christmas decorations, public art concept and installation

2008                  Garden Beds, ParkArt commission, Darebin City Council

2007                  Christmas decorations concept and installation, City of Whitehorse, Scapesystems collaboration

2005                  National Police Memorial design competition entry, Canberra ,Scapesystems collaboration

2005                  Pyalong Public Artwork Entry Feature - Stage 1, VicRoads, Scapesystems collaboration

2004                  Salad, Counihan Gallery, Brunswick

2004                  Flutter, CiberArt Bilbao, Spain

2003                  Hubba Bubba, Online Virtual Exhibition, Geelong Art Gallery

1996                  Hair, West Space, Footscray

 

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

 

2017-18             Romancing the Skull, Art Gallery of Ballarat

2017                  Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize,The Gallery @ Bayside Arts & Cultural Centre  

2016                  Eutick Memorial Still Life Award, Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery

2016                  Impressions 2016, Australian Print Workshop

2016                  FUSE, Flinders Lane Gallery

2016                  Kedumba Drawing Award, Orange Regional Gallery, Orange

2016                  John Leslie Art Prize, Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale

2016                  Bruny Island Art Prize, Bruny Island, Tasmania

2016                  Verdant Garden, Bundoora Homestead Art Centre

2015                  Off Road, Flinders Lane Gallery

2014                  Eutick Memorial Still Life Award, Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery

2014                  In Bloom, Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale

2014                  Melbourne Art Fair, Flinders Lane Gallery

2014                  Celebrating 25 Years, Flinders Lane Gallery

2014                  Adelaide Perry Prize for Drawing, Adelaide Perry Gallery Presbyterian Ladies' College, Sydney

2014                  The Rick Amor Drawing Prize, Art Gallery of Ballarat

2013                  The Inaugural Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery (ACMD) Acquisitive Art Prize St Vincent's Gallery

2012                  WE ARE HERE: Paul Borg, Gina Kalabishis, Shannon Smiley, Chapman and Bailey Gallery, Abbotsford  

2012                  FESTIVITE 2012, Catherine Asquith Gallery

2012                  Impressions 2012, Australian Print Workshop

2012                  Rick Amor Drawing Prize, Art Gallery of Ballarat    

2011                  The rest is silence, Death Be Kind, Brunswick East

2011                  The Top 20 Peoples Choice Award, The ANL Maritime Art Exhibition, World Trade Centre, Docklands

2011                  The ANL Maritime Art Prize and Exhibition, Mission to Seafarers, Docklands

2011                  CPM National Print Awards, Tweed River Art Gallery, NSW

2011                  Aura: The Haunted Image, Level 17 Artspace, Victoria University

2010                  Tales of the Greek Migrant, A Modern Odyssey, Hellenic Museum, Melbourne

2010                  Art Flash, Pursuit, Melbourne Art Fair

2010                  The Good, The Bad and The Punished, The Artist's Garden, Fitzroy

2010                  Connect 10, Level 17 Artspace, Victoria University

2009                  Flora, International drawing exhibition, The Manukau School of Visual Arts, New Zealand

2008                  Snapshot, Level 17 Artspace, Victoria University

2004                  Women’s Art Salon Counihan Gallery, Brunswick

2004                  Fringe x 4, Vanguard Gallery, Northcote

2003                  Nikon Summer Salon, CCP (Centre for Contemporary Photography) Fitzroy

2003                  Visuals, Ministerial Offices, Treasury Place, East Melbourne

2003                  Wild Posting, Budget Gallery, San Francisco, CA USA

2003                  Fleming’s Nurseries Award, Span Galleries, Flinders Lane

2001                  Rear Vision, Victoria University Alumni Exhibition Span Gallery, Flinders Lane

2001                  Bring back the Biffo, The Artist's Garden Fitzroy

2000                  Social Fabric, Women and the Greek Textile Tradition Manningham Gallery

1999                  Is Footy X@!!#'d?, The Artist's Garden, Fitzroy

1998                  ‘Drawing’ and  ‘Linden Gallery Christmas Show’, Linden Gallery, St.Kilda

1998                  Cancer the Journey, Vic Health Access Gallery, NGV, Touring Show regional galleries

1997                  Christ I'm Pissed Off, Stop 22, St.Kilda

1996                  Antipodes V 1996, Gallery 101

1995                  Ready Wrapped and Self-Sealed, Linden Gallery, St.Kilda

1995                  A Four Art, West Space, Footscray

1992                  Neophytes, Access Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria

1989                  Prahran Painters,  Linden Gallery, St.Kilda

 

SELECTED GRANTS AND AWARDS

2017                  (Winner)  Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize: People's Choice Award, The Gallery @    Bayside Arts & Cultural Centre 

2016                  (Winner) Bruny Island Art Prize People's Choice Award. Bruny Island, Tasmania

2014                  (Winner) Rick Amor drawing prize 2014. The Art Gallery of Ballarat 

2013                  (Winner) The Inaugural Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery (ACMD) Acquisitive Art Prize St Vincent's Gallery

2010                  (Winner) Hellenic Museum and Bank of Cyprus Art Award

2008                  Award, Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning Level 17 Artspace, Workforce Development (Victoria University)

2004                  Moreland Cultural Grant

2004                  Experimenta Travel Grant

1994                  (Winner) Emanuel Hirsh Award. Victoria College, Prahran

1993                  (Winner) Essendon Artist Award, Essendon Festival Art exhibition

 

COMMISSIONS

 

The Experimentalist: Nature series, Werribee Library, public art commission, Victoria University

Garden Beds, ParkArt commission, Darebin City Council

 

COLLECTIONS

 

National Gallery of Australia

Art Gallery of Ballarat

Gippsland Art Gallery 

Bundanon Trust

Bank of Cyprus Art Collection

Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery Collection, St Vincents Hospital

Victoria University Art Collection

The Art Vault, Mildura

Cancer Genetics Centre, Sydney

Brad Teal Real Estate Collection

Private collections in Australia and overseas

 

ART RESIDENCIES

 

2016 Artist in Residence, Bundanon Trust, NSW

2014 Art residency, Caritas Christi hospice part of the Palliative Care arm of St Vincent's Hospital

2013 Short Access Residency: Harry Brookes Allen Museum for Anatomy and Pathology, Melbourne University 

2012 The Mission to Seafarers, Docklands, Melbourne

 

TEACHING AND ART APPOINTMENTS

 

2014                      Nite Art: Artist Talk, Harry Brookes Allen Museum for Anatomy and Pathology, Melbourne University  

2013- 2014             Part-time: Art technician and Gallery Curator, Gallery Ranfurlie, Korowa Anglican Girls' School 

2008-11                 Gallery Director, Established Level 17 Artspace, Victoria University

2000-13                 Art Lecturer. Digital Imaging, Printmaking, Painting and Drawing, Victoria University

2007-10                 Art consultant for Victoria University Art Collection

2003-09                 Public Art and Landscape Architecture Practice, Scapesystems

2008                     International Art Forum Co-ordinator, Australia and New Zealand

2007                     Photography Studies College, Lecturer in Digital Imaging, Southbank

 

CURATORIAL APPOINTMENTS

 

2013                     'Slow Watch', Curator: Gina Kalabishis

2010                     ‘A Tradigital Survey’, Curators: Gina Kalabishis and Kirsten Rann

2009                     “FLORA’  Level 17 Artspace, Victoria University, An international drawing exhibition

 

                           

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS, CATALOGUES & REVIEWS

 

2016                  "A Song of Ice and Fire" John Leslie Art Prize 2016 - Simon Gregg, Curator Gippsland Art Gallery

2016                   Arete No.2 & Arete No.3  'Fuse' Flinders Lane Gallery : Bruce Copland, Curator

2016                   Art Almanac Preview: http://www.art-almanac.com.au/2016/02/gina-kalabishis-you-me/

2016                   Lost At E Minor: http://www.lostateminor.com/…/untamed-australian-wildernes…/

2016                   Neos Kosmos: http://neoskosmos.com/news/en/you-and-me-gina-kalabishis-exhibition by Nelly Skoufatoglou

2016                   You and Me essay by Melanie Caple, Flinders Lane Gallery

2015                   Heartland essay by Simon Gregg, curator Gippsland Art Gallery

2015                   Heartland review by Anita Traynor, Fine Art consultant

2015                   Heartland review by Alexandra Manatakis, Neos Kosmos  

2014                   Dissecting the art of Gina Kalabishis, Celeste Hawkins http://www.theartandthecurious.com.au/dissecting-the-art-of-gina-kalabishis/

2014                   Top Prize for Teacher: Stonnington Leader, Moreland Leader, Feb issue 

2014                   Emerging in a ghostly form, by Ashleigh Wilson, The Australian

2014                   Compelling Pastels, Space around the galleries, Dylan Rainforth, The Age

2014                   Gina Kalabishis wins $12,000 Rick Amor drawing prize 2014, by Nicholas Forrest, Blouin Artinfo

2014                   Gina Kalabishis wins prize for drawing, The Sydney Morning Herald

2014                   2014 Rick Amor Drawing Prize Winner Announced, Art Almanac

2014                   Pathology artwork wins drawing prize, by Fiona Henderson, Ballarat Courier, Ballarat 

2014                   Winner of Rick Amor Drawing Prize by Gina Fairley, ArtsHub 

2014                   Kalabishis takes out Rick Amor Drawing Prize, Neos Kosmos

2014                   The Rick Amor Drawing Prize 2014, Art Guide 

2013                   Gina Kalabishis wins inaugural Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery (ACMD) Acquisitive Art Prize, Artabase.

2013                   ACMD Art Prize- Bringing Science and Art Together, THE FONT, Issue 6, Sept 2013, St Vincent’s Hospital

2013                   Publication of Art work :front cover of Research Week 2013 program and abstract booklet, St Vincent’s Hospital

2013                   ‘Australian bush meets Ikebana’ Neos Kosmos

2012                   WE ARE HERE by Joanna Gould (Catalogue)

2012                   Ikebana and associated works by Monica Cronin and Beth Humphries [review]

2012                  'The rest is Silence', Death be Kind,

                          Essays by Christine Schmidt,Helen Hughes,Helen MacDonald,

                          Jess Kelly,David McInnes and Elvis Richardson,

                          Book design by Andrew Hurle.

2010                  ‘Hellenic Art prize to mother of three’, by John-Paul Hussey Neos Kosmos

2008                  ‘Gina Kalabishis a profile’, by Vicky Tsaconas, Neos Kosmos

2004                  'Art Depicts Cultural Diversity', by Robert Fedele Moreland Community News

2004                  'Salad', Beat Magazine, issue 924

2004                  'Logos-xvii', Hellenic Writers' Association of Australia, Artwork for cover and entire journal

2003                  'Hubba Bubba Inspires Something To Chew On', by Anthony Lynch, ' Nexus' number 4 , volume 13

1998                 'Cancer the Journey', Catalogue, Vic Health Access Gallery, NGV              

1996                  'Questions of Heritage and Aesthetics', by Freda Freiberg, The Age

1994                  Artwork reproduced in Mosaic Magazine, National Union of Greek Australian Students (Nugas)