Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Shen Wednesday - Calligraffiti

                       An example of Shen Wednesday’s Calligraffiti      Picture: Steven Savona

By Steven Savona

Shen Wednesday is making a mark at the Fairfield City Museum and Gallery with her eclectic fusion of Western and Eastern art.

Her exhibition, Calligraffiti, combines elements of calligraphy and graffiti: styles which are generally seen at opposite ends of the artistic spectrum.

Wednesday has said that the intention of the exhibition is to “display the process and aftermath of what happens when an artist integrates two vastly similar and yet different artistic disciplines.”

Calligraffiti is a fairly recent art form, believed to have been pioneered by Dutch artist, Niels Shoe Meulman, in 2007.

Wednesday’s exhibition gives her the chance to create the precedent for Calligraffiti in Australia.

Museum Coordinator and Education Officer, Carmel Aiello, believes it is refreshing to see such innovative work on display in the gallery.

“It’s the first time we’ve seen this type of work at the gallery,” she said.

The exhibition features a space where patrons can express their own artistic flair, which Ms Aiello believes is a positive sign.

“I think people like the idea that they can actually contribute to the exhibition, rather than being a passive viewer,” she said.

Wednesday is currently studying her PhD on calligraphy and graffiti at the Penrith campus of the University of Western Sydney, where her exhibition has its roots.

After displaying some of her calligraphic works at the university, she allowed students to deface them with spray cans, which planted the seeds for her current exhibition. 

Wednesday believes that art should be a democratic process, and that traditional gallery conventions are too ritualistic.

“Art galleries can be arrogant at times,” she said.

“Sometimes you’ll feel like touching a work because you admire it so much, but you’re not allowed to. You’re allowed to touch my artworks. You can even damage them if you like.”

Wednesday’s attitudes toward art stem from her insistence against perfectionism.

One of her artworks was partially ruined by her pet dog, although this did not deter Wednesday from exhibiting it.

“Most people think that beauty is the most important thing when it comes to art, but not everything has to be perfect. What matters the most about art is truth,” she said.

Wednesday was born in Taiwan, and Calligraffiti is a way of merging her experiences from her homeland with her life in Sydney’s western suburbs.

Ms Aiello believes that this will benefit local residents who come to see the exhibition.

“Shen’s profile fits in with a lot of immigrants living in western Sydney who are trying to incorporate something about their culture into a Western, capitalistic society,” Ms Aiello said.

Wednesday hopes that her exhibition will inspire people (especially young audiences) to create their own art, and convince them that graffiti is not a lowbrow art form.

“Graffiti is more than just spray paint. Tribal rock paintings can be considered as their own form of graffiti, and The Last Supper is a mural,” she said.

“I want to espouse the message that graffiti is not a criminal act. It’s not something you have to sneak off at night to do.”

“Art is not hard. Art is thinking. Art is writing.”

Calligraffiti is on display at the Fairfield City Museum and Gallery until April 28. Admission is free.

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