131 // A //GALLERY. An everywoman’s impression of a group exhibition at a brand new, small, independent space in Woodstock.

131 // A //GALLERY: New space

MEGAN FURNISS writes

I had to take my car to be cleaned. I really should do it more often, or at least do it myself. I have dogs and the interior of my car becomes a pit. I had an hour or so to kill and so I strolled up Sir Lowry Road, taking in the changes and sticking my nose into three newish, independent galleries.

Axis art gallery was the first one. I chatted to Grethe Maritz, the director, about their eclectic and interesting collection, marvelling at how it’s evident the gorgeous female nudes by Canadian Elly Smallwood are made by a woman. I loved these huge paintings.

I ended up at 131 // A // Gallery and had a walk about with Brett Bellairs who chatted to me briefly about the gallery, the artists in their first group exhibition, and what’s next for the space. They have only been open for just over a week.

Currently on is an exhibition of works by Daniel Levi, Anton Karstel, Alex Marmarellis, Luan Nel, J P Meyer, M J Lourens and Carin Dorrington. This is a pretty impressive group. And the exhibition is pretty impressive too.

131 // A //GALLERY: New space

Loving art

So, what’s a theatre-loving, improviser, play maker like me know about art? Not much. And yet. I love it and am moved by it. So if you can tolerate my lack of experience I’d love to share some of my impressions.

Daniel Levi’s oil paintings (mainly portraits) are beautiful. And so interesting, because the paintings as a group are strangely ethereal and other worldly – like looking at a person and seeing something of their spirit, fleetingly, unexplainably. I love them, and am moved by them, even though they are a real challenge to pin down. There is a big one called Memoriam, that is creepy and haunting, and my favourite.

Alex Marmarellis makes big paintings with lots of small people in them. My favourite two were titled Traveller and Lunch Break III and both show groups of people in transit, from an excitingly aerial perspective.  Traveller’s people have trolleys and suitcases and Lunch Break III is a corporate piazza, with business people on the move. There is something lonely and deeply recognisable and familiar about these scenes, beautifully articulated with the double and triple shadows created by artificial light sources.

131 // A //GALLERY: New space

Luan Nel has paintings and paintings on tiny found objects on exhibition, but my favourite is the to-scale model of the Dromedaris, hanging from the gallery’s ceiling, with terrifying and hilariously detailed skulls on the sails.

JP Meyer’s cheeky interpretations of Greek mythological characters and scenes are outrageous and contemporary. My best was Atlas – an Atlas in a speedo who dropped some clouds. Bright colours, big strokes, words and decorative elements make this series delicious.

Brett told me that the exhibition will be up for about five more weeks. It is so deserving of a pop in, and chat. Next up will be seven fresh new artists – the gallery will only be doing group exhibitions.

What: 131 // A // Gallery

Where and when: 131 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, open from 10am-4pm on weekdays and on Saturday from 10am-1pm

WS