James Rogers (right) and Leo Loomans, Tunnelvision exhibition opening. Photo: Joanne Leong  

James Rogers: Tunnelvision

Anne-Marie Jean explores 10 years of sculptural invention.

The walls of the Drill Hall Gallery are habitually lined with dynamic and entrancing works by some of Australia’s most significant artists. Visitors to the recently reopened gallery on campus will find the walls bare and instead be greeted by a space peopled with the abstract sculptures of James Rogers, soaring gestures in steel, tumbling discs of plywood colour and the illusory vibrating of moire mesh.  Exhibition Curator Terence Maloon describes James Rogers as one of the most accomplished contemporary Australian sculptors, and a sculptor in his prime.

Born in 1959 in Sydney, Rogers benefitted from the Whitlam government’s offer of a free tertiary education and enrolled in a newly founded art school, The Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education in Toowoomba, where he combined a major in sculpture with studies in music and percussion. Intertwined with the cadence and rhythm of a music, his abstract evocations seem to examine such fundamental elements of life as gravity and inter-connection. His passion for surfing and the sea is evident in twisting steel sculptures that evoke rising waves, rising bubbles and undulating kelp forests.

Rogers taught sculpture at the National Art School for over 20 years, and while it is perhaps not his intention, the survey provides an ideal environment to learn about key elements of sculptural construction and theory. As Terence Maloon guides small tour groups through the exhibition he comes back again and again to the commonalities of the seemingly disparate bodies of work on show. The joining of independent parts to make a whole, the engagement with gravity, the poetic rhythm, the invitation to move in space, the underlying essence of nature.