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Uptown Magazine, September 06, 2007

Tiny studies of sadness, seclusion

Semai Gallery's Strangelove is a radiantly expressive exhibition

By Stacey Abramson

Obsession can have horribly negative connotations, but the methodically bewitching works now lining the narrow halls at the Semai Gallery are anything but horrible.

With a title - Strangelove - taken from the aptly emotional lyrics of Depeche Mode, the tiny investigative art works of local artists Aldona Dziedziejko and Sylvia Matas seek to communicate some sort of fixation.

Dziedziejko has been making her mark on the local scene over the past couple of years through her curation of the shows of emerging artists. In addition to assisting Semai Gallery director Takashi Iwasaki in curating this show, she has also moved into the role of artist.

Dziedziejko's scenes of cute curiosity sit in neatly arranged shadowboxes. In her artistic statement she explains that her interest in shadowboxes arose from receiving one as a gift and not knowing quite what to do with it. Then she began to construct her own pieces, working with the themes of enclosed emotions these boxes regularly depict. But, rather than capture scenes of serenity and love, Dziedziejko has encased charming craftstore animal figurines in frames that depict guttural emotions many viewers would likely rather forget.

In several of the works, Dziedziejko portrays thievery and confusion through loss of home. In Alpha Confusion, a baby lamb hovers over a group of bird eggs while the cardinal mothers look on. In Mushroom Thieves, the roles are reversed when two canaries fly away with mushrooms, leaving a confused doe behind.

Dziedziejko's scenes are thus a successful, ornamental look the worst of human behaviour.

Matas' exotic and charming exhibition of foamy, organic, hand-made coral reefs and accompanying drawings at the Adelaide McDermot Gallery was in my Top 10 shows of 2006, so it's exciting to see that she's once again showing in the city, even after she re-located to London to continue her studies at the Chelsea Collage of Art and Design. Thankfully, this time her carefully composed drawings and paintings will be up for more than a week (Strangelove runs until Sept. 18).

Piles of baby ladybugs, heaps of raindrops and tropical rainbows are just some of the blissful images Matas uses. Like Dziedziejko, she conveys emotion through sources that are out of the ordinary - but where Dziedziejko uses the animal kingdom, Matas uses weather.

Squished together, perhaps in an attempt to gather as much power as possible, her 'weather piles' become heaps of hope. The piles sit in isolation, or secluded from one another. While the components of these works may be filled with happiness, the end result is one of beautiful loss.

Both artists approach the curatorial theme in their own distinct and clear ways. The result is a dizzying selection of pieces sure to bring out the neurotic in everyone.

The Original Article in Uptown Magazine