Art Sets.

The art that made me: Cherine Fahd

By the Art Gallery of NSW
Photo: Cherine Fahd

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Photo: Cherine Fahd

In The art that made me, artists discuss works in the Art Gallery of NSW collection that either inspire, influence or simply delight them. This selection by Cherine Fahd first appeared in Look – the Gallery’s members magazine.

In 1990, my Year 11 art teacher, Mr Needham, took our class to see The readymade boomerang biennale at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Little did I know this event would determine my life’s path. In my memory the exhibition represents a freedom that, at age 16, I had never associated with art before. I was a regular visitor to the Gallery after that. I often faked notes from my parents to school, stating I would be absent for half a day to attend a dentist appointment. Instead I would catch the train from Kingsgrove to St James station and spend an afternoon wandering around the Gallery, dreaming of being an artist.

When I first saw this photograph I saw the face of my grandmother, Laure Fahd. The woman in the middle who reaches her hand into the air looks so much like her. This image could be part of my family’s album. Invited from Lebanon to help build Australia, I imagine there could be a similar image of my grandfather and his brothers when they arrived in the 1950s. I love the story of this image – like most photographs it is part historical document and part fiction.

I have stood in front of this work so many times over the years. My attempts to focus on the text, to read ‘No object implies the existence of any other’, is a welcome diversion from the awkwardness that occurs if I happen to catch myself looking into the face in the mirror. I have to quickly avert my gaze. The work should read ‘Try very hard not to look into your own eyes’.

The banality of photographing your clothes
over 107 days is quite appealing. Most artists
who have applied the combination of a dry
conceptual logic to something so ordinary as
one’s clothes will often tell you how meditative
it is to make art that has a beginning and an
end and comes with instructions that require
no further thinking. The grid format has always
appealed to me. Order and organisation soothe
the chaos of everyday life, the human mind
and its tendency to overthink, over worry and
overdo. Somehow doing one thing everyday
in the name of making an artwork relieves
this. The series is arranged so formally as well.
The artist has put his undies on the top of the
pile of clothes and a wonderful triangle at the
centre of each frame functions as the perfect
compositional anchor.

I love plaster as a medium and Linda Marrinon’s figures embody what is so good about this material. In 2015 I saw 48 of her figurative sculptures at Monash University Museum of Art in Melbourne. The soft, muted, chalk-like surface is so unassuming compared with the ‘heroic’ statement a material like bronze signifies. I love looking closely at the incredible detail of the wrinkled sleeves on the elfin tomboy who is Ingenue.