Jeremy Eaton and Nicholas Smith: Dressings

Biannual Façade Commission

7 Feb to 21 Jul 2024

Jeremy Eaton and Nicholas Smith have navigated the language of screens, concealment and exposure to develop their installation. Dressings makes visible historically hidden or codified themes, continuing these artists’ investigation of queer sensibilities in Australian modernism. Erotically charged domestic materials have been repurposed as artworks that cite censored archives, introducing experiences of queerness to the recessed space of our large street frontage.

Different methods of screening and display have been used to conceal and frame elements of the installation. Burnished terracotta and painted automotive vinyl upholstery, for example, draw out the sensuality present in ordinary domestic materials. Smith has built disassembled artworks into wooden plinths, physically elevating terracotta vessels that now appear as naked torsos. Eaton’s digitally printed room dividers display the masked edges of photographic slides from an artist’s archive, alongside redactions from papers that document the indictment of a public servant for homosexuality. Dressings subverts historical silencing and queer erasure through its open display, while also preventing full access through elements that obscure and keep from sight.

Smith’s practice responds to the 20th-century modernist paintings of Australian artist and designer Adrian Feint. Each sculptural assemblage takes as a starting point Feint’s collection of floral still-lives, inserting ornate motifs into interior scenes. The work reinterprets Feint’s art through a contemporary queer lens, drawing on and embellishing its libidinous undertones. Like Feint, Smith engages with domestic materials using an aesthetic language that is seductively codified, foregrounding what is hidden or private.

Eaton’s current work emerges from research related to Australian artist and critic James Gleeson. Through installations comprised of text narratives, reconstructed objects and fabulated images, Eaton explores the emotional relations that emerge between the historical silencing of queerness, moments of private intimacy and institutional repression. His poetic interventions elevate the partial, the overlooked and the novel to navigate the disclosure of queer material in public contexts.

Image: Jeremy Eaton, Refrains #4 (detail)digital print on sewn canvas, 2023. © Jeremy Eaton. Courtesy the artist and LON Gallery