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Compound Element

Text by John Lampard

Scientists may not be the only visitors to the GAS Exhibition, opening in Sydney on 15 November, surprised at what they discover there. Possibly hopeful of learning a thing or two about gas, they may be baffled to find they are in fact at an art exhibition, while the variety of art on show may amaze seasoned gallery goers.

For five days, GAS will feature the work of graphic design, illustration, photography, sculpture, film, street art and graffiti artists. It is the manifold collection of genres and works, which have no central, or particular theme, that also inspired the exhibition’s name.

While a show as varied as GAS may cause some curators headaches, that’s not the case for Andrew Chew, of Sydney’s Sense Assault Studio, organisers of the exhibition.

He was art director of Sneaker Pimps, one of the world’s largest touring art exhibitions for two years, and liked the concept so much he decided to establish an Australian variation.

The GAS Exhibition poster
© GAS Exhibition

“Sneaker Pimps works so well, in that it allows so many different people and styles to be showcased in the one exhibition. We figured there are so many great artists out there, why should we limit it to one set medium, style or theme? This way we get a big mashed up combination of everything good out there,” says Andrew.

Another feature of the exhibition is the opportunity new and emerging artists have to exhibit their work beside that of established, well known, artists. Andrew sees this as a way of giving new artists an edge both locally and internationally.

“It’s so difficult to get space to showcase your work, not to mention expensive, so why not help and give people a place to exhibit? We also want to start putting Australians on the map for producing really high quality art and design that can compete with off shore work,” he says.

The GAS Exhibition poster- greyscale
© GAS Exhibition

GAS is also assisting artists with some exhibiting costs, and although the venue, Global Gallery, is taking a sales commission, the organisers are not making any money themselves. Andrew says they are particularly appreciative of the support they have received to stage the event though.

“We were lucky that there are great sponsors at the moment like Mobux who are sponsoring this year’s show. It’s good to see companies out there getting behind arts, and especially Aussie artists.”

The opening night will also include the Australian premiere of The Run Up, an art documentary produced by Andrew’s long time friend, Shaun Roberts from San Francisco, who will also be present at the screening.

Andrew describes the film, which showcases the work of 26 eminent visual artists, as a trip into the world of the American arts scene.

The GAS Exhibition poster- extra long!
© GAS Exhibition

“It was two and half years in the making, and is such a great insight to the worlds’ of these artists. They have all done such amazing things with their talent, and unfortunately Australia does not have quite a scene like the States, or the population for that fact. It is an inspirational piece of work which really helps add value to the overall show,” he says.

For Andrew and the organisers, GAS is also a lot about the simple joy of creating art in the first place.

“Really the main drive of this exhibition is satisfaction. We always get tied up doing things for a reason and for money. You tend to forget that you once started painting, designing, or taking photos for the passion. So this was our escape from all that crap to do something just for fun.”