Congo Rhythms

Review by Robin Wallace-Crabbe The STUR GALLERY invitation to Brett Martin’s CONGO RHYTHMS exhibition emphasises that the art is all about place. Inside the gallery it is obvious that ‘place’ isn’t some exotic somewhere that a tourist has taken snapshots of to serve as the basis for a set of paintings. Martin’s work is about connection to Congo down on the south coast. He lives there. More than that he picks up bits and pieces of rusted cans out of which he’s produced PROTECTION, a breath-taking life size shark: the pieces of recycled sheet metal are riveted in place to form the contours of the creature’s body. This Australian legend swims in the exhibition’s atmosphere; indeed it goes a long way towards creating it. The rest of the work is two dimensional, hanging on the walls. There isn’t so much as a hint of that repetition which artists rely on to fill creative voids. With each connection he makes Martin appears to be responding to the mind signals he receives. So there is EARLY MORNING MESS, acrylic paint on board with the beautifully orchestrated colour/tones applied in a relaxed fashion to a composition derived from the natural rhythms of the coast. Leap (or swim) from this to the painting, BLACK HEAD where the sea and one of its frighteningly large denizens is cordoned off at the top of the composition by the cubism of Homo sapiens’ dwellings. Is art about people being creative, responding in unexpected ways to the world, to available materials? Yes it is. Brett Martin’s art is proof enough, rivetingly so.