Based in Sparta Place, Brunswick, Beinart Gallery has been open since 2016, carving out a niche. All works are figurative, often quite detailed, and “it’s all thematically strange and imaginative and surreal, sometimes otherworldly”, says Jon.
There’s a degree of snobbery in the art establishment around that type of work, and many of the artists the Beinarts represent were discouraged from pursuing it, he says.
“Artists that we show who have been to art school and university were discouraged [from this style],” Jon says.
That mindset has dominated for several decades, despite clear demand from collectors.
“There’s definitely a revival, but it’s not necessarily recognised by the academic art world,” he says. “It is in pockets, but it’s really fringe still, and it is more [accepted and recognised] in North America and Europe.
“There are more museum shows and more people working as contemporary artists in this field overseas, whereas that hasn’t really happened here.”
Before opening their physical gallery, Jon staged a number of exhibitions as guest curator at Copro Gallery in Santa Monica, California. Those events allowed him to meet many of the artists he already knew from online.
He and Corinne believed a physical version of their gallery had a lot of potential – especially as they had relationships with many artists. Jon is also a painter and sculptor (best known for The Toddlerpede, a series of children’s dolls joined together), while Corinne’s experience as a teacher and editor would drive the communications, marketing and business development side of the gallery.
When they started out, the work they were interested in was generally available online only. Sourcing artists is easier now thanks to Instagram and other social media, while their growing reputation and unique positioning means other galleries and artists approach them directly.
It’s a joyous, close community, say the Beinarts – one that crosses geographical divides – and their space provides an opportunity for artists otherwise largely ignored in their home countries to show their work. While the gallery was initially dominated by international artists, one of the couple’s main objectives today is to support and uncover emerging Australian artists.
“That’s been our aim since we first began,” says Jon.
Each January, the gallery hosts an exhibition to showcase work by local artists only. Called Antipodes, this year’s line-up includes Shaun Tan, Jennifer Whitten, Joel Rea, Mali Moir, Nick Stathopoulos, Kim Hyunji and Cameron Potts and more.
Antipodes is at Beinart Gallery, 1 Sparta Place, Brunswick, from January 19 to February 2, with 5% of sales going to Indigenous youth climate network Seed. beinart.org
Six artists to see at Beinart Gallery
The widely acclaimed artist and author, who won an Oscar for animated short The Lost Thing, explores themes of displacement, alienation and loneliness – yet his works are imbued with playfulness and hope.
Working across painting, drawing and video, James Bonnici challenges interpretations of the physical world by taking simple, recognisable forms such as faces and distorting them into something worthy of a David Lynch film.
Reminiscent of old-fashioned, illustrated children’s books, behind the ornamental and ethereal charm of flowers, animals and female figures that appear throughout Courtney Brims’ works on paper lie the cunning and unsettling forces of nature itself.
If you have an aversion to creepy, slimy critters, look away now. Beau White’s hyperreal oil paintings are as vivid and unnerving as a Piccinini sculpture.
Sir John Pulman Prize-winner Cameron Potts draws his inspiration from nature and dreams. His works reflect the intricate patterns inherent in the natural world.
Kerrie is a senior culture writer at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald