Telly Tu’u

Telly Tu'u's new body of work invites sustained exploration from the viewer, welcoming us onto shifting ground through which we can chase the workings of line and colour as they flit and flicker around us.

Bobbing & Weaving, 2022, the eponymous work in Telly Tu’u’s current show with James Makin Gallery, sets us swiftly moving through a garden of formal delights, perfectly conceived and executed for the eye to tumble through. In this painting, as across all of this body of work, moments of dense, energetic movement collide with little snippets of firm visual ground: strips of decisive colour locating us amongst the finely-balanced fray. Tu’u refers to these bursts of hard-edged colour – these flashes of definition – as “pauses” within the work, inviting us to think about our experience of the paintings as durational. It takes time to move through these images, with plenty of phenomenological experience and visual data to chew on as we do. Unlike the instantaneity which many images in contemporary visual culture demand of us in our responses, these are works which should be experienced as they were made, over long and imaginatively-involved stretches of time. 

These images are made with reverence to the importance, and in some senses, even the agency, of Tu’u’s materials. The starting point for each painting is determined by the paint left on the palette from the artist’s previous work – which also explains the feeling of theme and variation throughout the body of work, where each work shares correspondences in colour with any number of others. There is the hand of chance at play here, balanced against the intelligent combination of colour and brushstroke, which can make these images feel like delighted games between the artist, viewer, and materials.

Tu’u’s Bobbing and Weaving is at once joyful and virtuosic: a celebration of the possibilities of sight, movement, and even of touch and texture. Where one brushstroke ends and the field others begins is, in some senses, a question without a real answer. We’re welcomed, nevertheless, to spend time chasing its answer through the works’ fields of direction and misdirection, picking up clues where we find them.

Bobbing & Weaving
2 – 24 April 2022
James Makin Gallery, Melbourne

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