Hours of operation

2021 River Capital Commission

Rob McLeish

5 November -
5 December 2021

Gertrude Contemporary

21-31 High Street, Preston South

Artist Talk: Friday 3 December, 5 - 6pm

Closing Reception: Friday 3 December, 6pm - 8pm 

Gertrude has been pleased to announce the third River Capital Commission, an annual commissioning initiative developed in partnership with and through the generous support of River Capital. This partnership enables Gertrude to work with leading artists to commission a major new project to be presented as a flagship exhibition within our artistic program.

For the 2021 River Capital Commission, Gertrude was honoured to work with Melbourne-based artist Rob McLeish toward the presentation of HEADLESS, his most expansive institutional project to date. Unfolding across the gallery spaces and foyer volumes at Gertrude Contemporary, HEADLESS reprised a selection of key sculptural works of the past decade and introduced a number of newly produced works enabled through the commission. Taking form as a total environment orchestrated by the artist in response to the architecture of the spaces, HEADLESS brought new and recent works into dialogue to focus on the sculptural realm of McLeish's practice.

Artistically active for more than 15 years, McLeish returned to Melbourne after a period living and working in Los Angeles and New York, where he exhibited extensively and worked in the studio of Jeff Koons. Having been included within numerous museum exhibitions, HEADLESS was the first opportunity for the artist to develop a large-scale institutional solo exhibition in Australia. Rob’s practice spans sculpture, installation, printmaking and drawing. With exceptional skills as a technical producer, the artist engages in highly complex material experimentation. Central within his practice is the reconsideration of monuments and monumental gestures in modernist art, tempered with an overlay of material fatigue and the passing of time. This too carries through into his motifs around sport and endurance, which are similarly called into question through the representation of contortion and distortion. With humour, exemplary production skills, a strong comprehension of spatiality and timely questioning of the monument in history, Rob is both an artist of significance and highly deserving of an opportunity to work on a project of scale and importance. Rob is an alumnus of the Gertrude Studio Program, participating from 2009-2010.

Selected solo exhibitions include: Distortions, Neon Parc, Melbourne; Thanks Criticism!, Kansas Gallery, New York, USA (2016); Lapsink, Neon Parc, Melbourne (2013); Art Contemporary Los Angeles Art Fair, Neon Parc, Los Angeles, USA (2013); Concept Fatigue, DB, Sydney (2012); Keep Art Evil, Monash University, Melbourne (2010); NADA Art Fair, Neon Parc, Miami, USA (2010); Afterparty, West Space, Melbourne (2008); Pissing In The Infinity Pool, Ocular Lab, Melbourne (2009); and Step Into The Light, TCB, Melbourne (2008). Selected recent group exhibitions include: Verus Rodin: Bodies Across Space and Time, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (2017); Vitreous Humour, Kansas Gallery, New York, USA (2016); An Imprecise Science, Artspace, Sydney (2015); Sequester, Australian Embassy, Washington DC (2014); Basil Sellers Art Prize, Ian Potter Museum, Melbourne University, Melbourne (2014); Reinventing the Wheel: The Readymade Century, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne (2013); Parallel Collisions: 2012 Biennial of Australian Contemporary Art, Art Gallery Of South Australia, Adelaide; The Drawing Room, Breenspace, Sydney (2012); and Life. Death. Thereafter. Silvershot, Melbourne (2008).

Rob McLeish is represented by Neon Parc, Melbourne. 

Download the exhibition roomsheet here.

Public Program

Artist Talk: Rob McLeish 

Artist TalkFriday 3 December, 6amGertrude Contemporary

Join us at Gertrude Contemporary for a conversation between Rob McLeish and Jen Berean, as they discuss Rob's exhibition for the 2021 River Capital Commission, HEADLESS

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Exhibition Walkthrough: HEADLESS

Digital Resource Friday 5 November, 0amGertrude Contemporary

Exhibition walkthrough of the 2021 River Capital Commission HEADLESS by Rob McLeish at Gertrude Contemporary.

Flim Credit: Mighty Films - mightyfilms.com.au
Courtesy: Neon Parc - neonparc.com.au

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Essay by Tess Maunder

The exhibition feels like a very still spring night spent outside in a friend’s backyard. There is a lingering warm glow from the daytime that has now with the arrival of night, cooled right down. It does seem as though there should be a light breeze but instead an almost claustrophobic stillness has formed around me.

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Interview: Rob McLeish 

The River Capital Commission is a new annual anchor of the Artistic Program at Gertrude, enabling the organisation to work with a leading Australian artist to develop an ambitious new solo exhibition across all the galleries at Gertrude Contemporary. Melbourne-based artist Rob McLeish was commissioned to develop a new body of work presented within the context of selected recent works to offer a focussed lens on the sculptural and installation realms of his practice. The following is an edited conversation conducted over email between the artist and Artistic Director Mark Feary.

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The River Capital Commission is an initiative developed in partnership with River Capital, a Melbourne-based investment firm with a commitment to investor and community success.

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Gertrude Contemporary

21-31 High Street
Preston South VIC
Melbourne, Australia

Opening hours:
Tuesday–Sunday 11am–5pm

Gertrude Glasshouse

44 Glasshouse Road
Collingwood VIC
Melbourne, Australia

Opening hours:
Thursday–Saturday 12–5pm