The Paul Selzer Exhibition: Supporting graduates of the VCA

Linda Tegg, Archive 2022
Linda Tegg, Archive 2022. Image Credit: Andrew Curtis

As Melbourne's arts and cultural sector remerges from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, four of the VCA's finest graduates are displaying newly commissioned works as part of the Paul Selzer Exhibition.

The Paul Selzer Exhibition is presented by the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) at the University of Melbourne, in partnership with Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria to support contemporary artists and graduates of the VCA. Forming part of the exhibition is a prize of $25,000, awarded to a single exhibiting artist to support their studio practice.

The Paul Selzer Exhibition honours the memory of artist and entrepreneur, Paul Selzer, and is made possible by the generosity of the Selzer family. Representative of the family, Anita Selzer, said “we wanted to remember Paul and his advocacy for art, by simply affording an artist the opportunity to create work in an uninterrupted way. We think it's paramount for artists to have focused time to create.”

Competing in this year’s iteration of the award are a group of outstanding VCA graduates: Ben McKeown, Chaco Cato, Steven Rhall and Linda Tegg. These invited artists have been funded to each produce a substantial new work for the exhibition, which will be displayed at Domain House Gallery in the Royal Botanic Gardens. One of the artists will then be chosen by an esteemed panel of judges to receive the $25,000 Paul Selzer Exhibition prize.

Steven Rhall, Recycled or Reclaimed 2022. Image Credit: Andrew Curtis

Exhibiting artist, Linda Tegg, was honoured to receive an invitation to participate in the prestigious prize. For Tegg, the opportunity to display her work alongside her fellow artists is what excites her most. “While creating my work in the studio, I felt a sense of connection with the other artists. Knowing that Chaco, Ben, and Steven were all making their work too, and anticipating it all coming together was really comforting. The prize has built a strong little community within our broader community of VCA alum,” said Tegg.

The Paul Selzer Exhibition forms part of the city’s cultural reemergence, as the arts sector rebuilds from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the exhibiting artists, the simple opportunity to display their work to live audiences makes a huge impact. “The lockdowns challenged us to work at different proximities and through new formats. For me, this highlighted the qualities of encountering an artwork in a gallery with live audiences and intensified my desire for that type of exchange. I feel a real sense of things opening back up,” said Tegg.

Paul Selzer Exhibition, installation view; Linda Tegg, Archive 2022, and Ben McKeown, COIN 2022. Image credit: Andrew Curtis

The four competing artists were carefully chosen by a group of co-curators with close ties to the VCA and its world-renowned art program, including: Simone Slee, Head of Art at the VCA; David Sequeira, Director of the Fiona and Sidney Myer Gallery; and Jon Cattapan, Emeritus Professor at the VCA.

Professor Cattapan, co-curator of the exhibition is thrilled with the outstanding work on show, adding, “right from the start, the curatorial team were captivated by the work of each of the artists.”

For Cattapan, there is an “underlying thread, that weaves itself through the entire exhibition, speaking to themes of nature, the environment and social justice,” all of which, he said, are coupled with “consummate and well-crafted aesthetics.”

Chaco Kato, Between the lines, among the everyday 2022 (detail). Image credit: Andrew Curtis

The challenging task of selecting a single winner lands with three of Melbourne’s most eminent art world figures: Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, Professor Marie Sierra; curator, Hannah Presley; and artist, John Young AM.

The winner of the Paul Selzer Exhibition Prize will be announced at a special ceremony for selected guests on Wednesday 2 March 2022.

The exhibition is open to the public Wednesday to Sunday between 11:00am and 4:00pm from 16 February - 13 March 2022 and entry is free. Domain House and Gallery is located on Dallas Brooks Drive, South Yarra (off Birdwood Avenue opposite the National Herbarium).

About the exhibition: The Paul Selzer Exhibition honours the memory of artist and entrepreneur Paul Selzer and is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Selzer family. The fellowship funds new commissions by contemporary artists and alumni of the Victorian College of the Arts. As part of the exhibition, a prize of $25,000 will be awarded to one of the exhibiting artists.

About the artists:

Chaco Kato is a Japanese-born Melbourne-based artist who completed her Master of Fine Arts at Victorian College of the Arts in 1999. Kato is predominantly an installation artist often working across sculpture, textile, projection and bookmaking, employing and exploring the potential of drawing and craft. She is currently undertaking an ambitious environmental research focus project, ‘Escarpment Project’ in Garambi Baan (Laughing Water in Victoria) that was granted by Creative Victoria and The Phillip Hunter Fellowship from the University of Melbourne with colleague artists Siri Hays and Eugene Howard (director of In Place Inc.) working closely over the next few years with the Wurundjeri community.

Ben McKeown is an artist whose multi-disciplinary approach to art making, incorporates painting, digital works, clay, the moving image. He draws inspiration for his practice from his Australian Aboriginal heritage (Wirangu & Kaurna), queer identity, family histories and time and place. McKeown’s works examine the space between landscapes of intersections and belonging. He examines how representations of interchangeable landscapes advance notions of belonging in contemporary Australia his works incorporate a link to places with foundations in history and people and events to create a visual addendum to the way history and identity has been disseminated and consumed about Australia.

Steven Rhall is a post-conceptual artist operating from a First Nation, white-passing, queer, cis male positionality, geographically located on neighbouring Woiwurrung and Wathaurung lands. Rhall’s art practice finds expression in ideas of institutional critique, interrogating modes of representation, classification and hierarchy both within and external to the art world(s). He works across various forms and interventions, including installation, performance, process led methodologies, curatorial projects, sculpture and art within the public realm. Many of his projects propose, explore and critique the exchange of economic and cultural capital found in the matrix of relations and intersections of First Nation art production, presentation and encounter

Linda Tegg is a Melbourne-based Artist who makes work out of inhabiting and reconfiguring the conditions of spectatorship. Within her immersive installations; images, plants, animals, and the built environment are brought into unlikely proximities to generate new points of orientation and relation. This speculative work engages with the construction of images of nature, and the frameworks through which we find meaning in the world. Tegg’s artwork engages with cultural institutions as well as public space and has been widely exhibited in Australia, The United States, and Europe. She was the Samstag Scholar of 2014, and the Georges Mora Foundation Fellow of 2012. Tegg has degrees from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The University of Melbourne, and RMIT University.