Drawings Rome 2023

Drawings Rome 2023 HeaderJohnnie Dady. Floating Goose Studios Inc. 12 Jun 2024.


A photocopied page headed “two strands” in Johnnie Dady’s expansive hand outlines the aims and ideas for his current exhibition, Drawings Rome 2023 at Floating Goose Studios.


Dady’s leaping letterforms introduce us to the energised fluency of gesture, which so characterises his work. Dot points call the viewer’s mind to “Etruscan archaeological artifacts” and “conversations with gravity” located on the far ends of the deep historical past and more recent scientific advance. References to distant cultures and scientific theories put forward in times closer to our own might seem at an impossible remove from the other, but for Dady, each of these is inextricably linked by optimism and the fundamental human need to innovate and hold things up.


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Johnnie Dady, Drawings Rome 2023, photo Melanie Cooper


Stepping into the exhibition is like walking into an archived laboratory of ideas, where Dady delights in the audacity of earnest human endeavour. The first drawings – pinned unceremoniously to the wall by the entrance of the gallery – appear as though they have been lifted directly from the drafting table, or quickly snipped out of larger plans and working documents. On ubiquitous materials including paper bag and cardboard score card, exploratory drawings of proposed structures trundle between two-dimensional and three-dimensional formats. Chairs appear to dissolve back into the paper they are drawn on; chair legs run off edges and vanish so that familiar endpoints stretch out beyond the range of the visible. Other lines and suggestive edges conjure references to environments we can only imagine. In one or two instances, dramatic bursts of ink signal violent rupture and dicey testing methods beneath wire chairs that remain standing triumphant.


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Johnnie Dady, Drawings Rome 2023, photo Melanie Cooper


At the centre of the back wall, an enlarged POSTAGE PAID envelope marked by handwritten notes and top-heavy forms is flanked by two other drawings enlarged to the same scale that are likewise suggestive of the editing and revision process. Collectively, these three larger works provide an altarpiece to the rapid exploration and execution of ideas comparable with the rigours of human invention.


Wheels reappear throughout several other drawings; circular lines attached to the ends of spindly legs elevate top-heavy box forms that threaten to topple or teeter forwards. Animated forms of rickety function and wayward movement can also be found in the wire-chair drawing sidling up to the top of the opposite wall and in others casting their trembling shadows across the tops of plinths occupying the centre of the space. On the bottom side of one of these, another drawing of a table with three legs appears poised to remain standing, while simultaneously hovering on the edge of collapse.


In our current time, an amplified stream of images jostles for attention – both online and in real time environments – without pause. It is rare to encounter work that beckons the viewer with an absolute economy of means and sincerity of purpose in playful dialogue with ideas of futility and the human condition. Dady’s tender propositions reward close looking and careful consideration, summoning the virtues of ideation and experiment essential to the human ingenuity required to adapt and survive in times of great uncertainty and crisis.


Melanie CooperDrawings Rome 2023 Header


When: 7 to 29 June

Where: Floating Goose Studios Inc.

Bookings: floatinggoose.com.au


Editors Note: Dr Melanie Cooper and Johnnie Dady are colleague lecturers at Adelaide Central School of Art.