Located down a laneway and opposite a carpark, Neon Parc stays true to Melbourne’s unofficial law that the best stuff has to be hidden in the grottiest locations. And the difference once you find your way inside is striking: clean white walls offset by a beautiful Italian-style terrazzo floor (crushed-up marble, granite, glass and quartz formed into tiles).
As for the art, Neon Parc prides itself on presenting fresh talent. Curator Geoff Newton opened the place in 2006 to promote new work by emerging artists alongside that of established artists. He also set out to give Australian artists a leg-up onto the world stage. “It’s important to create a level playing field where artists who are considered big fish in Australia are recognised in the international arena,” he says.
For Newton, a highlight in the gallery’s recent calendar was an exhibition of paintings and collages by Josh Smith and Franz West in August 2012. Born in 1947, Austrian painter West was awarded the Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement award at the 2011 Venice Bienniale. Sadly, West died during the course of the exhibition at Neon Parc. His paintings, dynamic with thick brush strokes, were shown alongside paintings by Smith, a young American artist. Newton says he “was very lucky to have exhibited these works.”
In August this year, Neon Parc presents Heavenly Stems, an exhibition featuring two established and one emerging artist. Paintings by 76-year-old Dick Watkins and new works by painter-come-ceramics artist Angela Brennan will be shown alongside ceramic and print works by the emerging Rebecca Scibilia.