Octopus 5 was the fifth edition in the series of annual exhibitions at Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, which aim to present the work of significant artists and current tendencies in art practice locally and nationally. Presented as a flagship project in Gertrude’s annual calendar, the series provides a forum for new curatorial and artistic positions, and promotes opportunities for contemporary artists to develop ambitious new projects within a critical and supportive public context.

Curated by Nicholas Chambers, Assistant Curator of Contemporary International Art at the Queensland Art Gallery, Octopus 5 brought together 4 artists with divergent practices and interests:

Raafat Ishak (VIC); Horst Kiechle (NSW); Koji Ryui (NSW) and Grant Stevens (QLD). Devoid of an over-arching theme guiding its reception, the exhibition provided a framework in which encounters between works and ideas were created by the artists and audience. For Octopus 5, Bangkok-based NSW artist Horst Kiechle reconstructed Gertrude’s gallery spaces into awe-inspiring geometric environments, by creating a distinct zone for each artist, which responded to the physical and conceptual concerns of their work. Drawing from dialogue with each of the exhibition participants and his own research, Kiechle’s architecturally-scaled environments transformed 200 Gertrude Street’s gallery spaces and created a unique context into which each artist’s work was installed. Other artists participating in the exhibition included:Raafat Ishak (VIC), who has exhibited regularly in Melbourne since the mid 1990s. Well known for his paintings on MDF, prior to this exhibition, Ishak regularly collaborated with artists on a range of different projects and works. For Octopus he produced a series of paintings based upon both previous and forthcoming collaborations. Koji Ryui (NSW), who has worked with commonplace objects such as plumber’s tape, drinking straws, streamers, and invitation cards, for this exhibition, transformed these objects into fantastic constructions which reveal the magical potential of their physical properties and patterning. Grant Stevens (QLD), who has created video works that are at once comical, engaging and unsettling. Stevens has appropriated, deleted, refined and repeated elements of video and text with the effect of confounding our relationship to even the most familiar products of popular culture. Enveloping both the Front and Main Galleries at 200 Gertrude Street, Octopus 5 presented a refreshing, considered take on both the production and reception of contemporary visual art.

Octopus 5, Raafat Ishak, Koji Ryui, Horst Kiechle, Grant Stevens 9 July – 21 August 2004, Text: Nicholas Chambers

A5 catalogue, full-colour reproductions, 28 pages, $4.40