Comic Tragics opens new world of art to AGWA visitors


Robert Cook. Picture: Will Russell d452944
Robert Cook. Picture: Will Russell d452944

ROBERT Cook has had many titles while working at Art Gallery of WA (AGWA) for the past 16 years.

His current role as contemporary design and international art curator enabled him to propose the first of two major shows AGWA has exclusively curated for WA audiences in 2016.

Comic Tragics: the exploding language of contemporary comic art has more than 150 comic works by nine Australian and international artists presented in various stages, from rough sketches to finished comic pages.

Artists featured include Gabrielle Bell, Stephen Collins, Aisha Franz, Anders Nilsen, Tommi Parrish, John Porcellino, Dash Shaw, Emma Talbot and Ron Rege Jr.

“The great thing is, because they’re all original pages, you’re getting all this beautiful materiality you never see in a comic book,” Cook said.

“You can see the correction fluid and the practice drawings on the side, you can see the rub outs and how they cut out bits of paper and re-stuck a head in.

“They operate as drawings and artworks in a way that’s really unexpected and engaging.

“There’s this great sense of intimacy because you can kind of feel the hand, arm and body of the maker hovering over them in a way that’s eradicated from the comic book.”

Cook said the exhibition grew from his interest in the field for decades and his desire to see how comic originals stacked up against any kind of contemporary art.

“It was fun realising we could do that stuff here and show work that maybe hasn’t been thought of in this context,” he said.

“It came out of the impulse that I love it and thought everyone else would too, and it’s super accessible.

“We’ve brought some work by some incredible artists.

“I’ve been in the gallery space and seen Perth kids looking at the stuff and you know they wouldn’t have encountered it elsewhere and it’s maybe coming out of left field for them.

“I know when I was a kid coming to the gallery and seeing amazing things from around the world, it made my interest in the field.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Comic Tragics exhibition

Where: Art Gallery of WA

When: showing until July 25

Entry: free