In conversation with Dane Lovett – Pippa Milne

Dane Lovett, 154 Arrangement, 2014, oil and acrylic on aluminium composite panel, 81 x 81 cm.

Dane Lovett, 154 Arrangement, 2014, oil and acrylic on aluminium composite panel, 81 x 81 cm.

Dane Lovett is in a state of pre-travel limbo. After seven years in Melbourne, during which he has completed an Honours degree at the VCA, received a number of grants and awards and exhibited broadly, Lovett is about to relocate to New York.

We spoke the day after Lovett opened Inside World at STATION gallery, his second exhibition in a month, while he was contemplating the task of packing up his life and leaving Melbourne. Despite a frenetic schedule he chatted as though he had all the time in the world, covering topics from the benefits of doing your own framing, to fan art and his transition into making sculptures.

Lovett’s work has an ongoing connection to objects. For several years, his paintings have gently explored sentiment within inanimate objects, engaging viewers in a meandering discussion about the history of the still life by placing humble, familiar plants among the detritus of technological developments. When asked about how he selects objects, Lovett is vague. “I always like it when people have personal associations with objects in the works, but it’s not as strategic as that. I don’t set out to try to trigger memories with objects; they are things that I see, things that I come across.”

This recent body of work is somehow slightly more slippery, with references to modernism and monumentalism where previous works were more local and tender. A leitmotif emerges in the form of Frank Stella’s Sinjerli Variation iii, (held by the AGNSW), a postcard of which Lovett has had in his studio. The painting, which divides a circle into geometric slices and curves, appears in Lovett’s work as a whole, in postcard form, and separated into pieces.

“In a way, this is sort of like fan art —I wanted to play with this painting and repaint it, recreate it in different forms and mediums.”

This modernist recurrence charts Lovett’s move into making objects as well as painting them. “I had been meaning to move into objects for a long time. I kept saying I’d do it and something would come up and for some reason I never did.”

“My intention with the objects was that they would be different forms from within this Frank Stella work, isolated and remade in stone. For the recent tcb show I remade the whole piece but I didn’t complete the project and make individual objects of each section. Remaking the whole seemed like enough.” As a classic studio artist Lovett works with what is around him, so it is perhaps, natural that he reworks what is already on the gallery walls. The way that his objects sit in front of the paintings that they dissect is almost a complete work, with each element passing between the two forms continuously.

Inside World, Tues to Fri 11am—5pm, Sat 12—4pm until 17 May 2014; STATION, 9 Ellis Street, South Yarra, (03) 9826 2470,