Outré (ˈuːtreɪ/): unusual and typically rather shocking. Outré Gallery: an aptly-named Melbourne art space passionate about ‘contemporary international pop, lowbrow, pop surrealism, street, tiki, modern folk, retro with a twist, and underground art.’
With that background covered, you’ll be in-the-know to attend Outré Gallery’s milestone exhibition this weekend. ‘Beyond The Familiary’ brings together original paintings and drawings from the likes of Ghostpatrol, Miso (Stanislava Pinchuk), Shepard Fairley, Michael Reeder, and so many more talents.
Martin McIntosh established the unique gallery back in 1997, driven by ‘enthusiasm… and naivety’! ‘I did have a vision of essentially creating an accessible gallery that catered to all of the areas that interested me,’ he backpedals. ‘I was inspired by what was considered “low art” at the time – comic books, pulp fiction cover illustration, Japanese animation and mid-20th-century advertising art.’
As a teen, Martin was into obscure music, 1960s pop culture, and the visual aesthetic of these scenes. After high school, he studied a BA, ‘dabbling’ in many subjects unsure of what to pursue in life. ‘My Dad was a magician (and amateur artist) who had started his own shop when he was young, selling magic tricks, jokes and novelties. So, without thinking about it too deeply, I just followed the maxim of “follow your passions”,’ explains Martin.
So what turned a passion project in a long-running success story? Following your inner instincts – ‘what seems right, and what you’re interested in’ – advises the guy who sold hundreds of framed Banksy prints (for under $500!) before mainstream Banksy mania ensued. ‘I have a genuine interest, admiration and desire for what I’m representing, and introducing to the public,’ adds Martin. ‘But a big part of the success, and also the challenge, is hard work – lots of long nights and early starts. For the first couple of years of the gallery I didn’t draw a wage at all, and I had very supportive parents who housed and fed me!’
Since those early days, Outré Gallery has worked with an array of high profile artists from all walks of life. ‘They’re just people – like you and me – with interests, dreams and fears,’ insists Martin. ‘It’s very fulfilling to be able to collaborate with these talents to create great shows, to see their work first hand, and to have the privilege of knowing them as individuals beyond their art.’
It’s no surprise that introducing people to great art, and seeing many of them become passionate art collectors is a highlight for the 45-year-old curator. ‘It has been nice to… for want of a better word, ‘grow up’ along with some of our long-term customers, and also see the original artists we’ve shown go on and influence the next generation,’ he tells. ‘I still get blown away when I meet an artist with a unique approach or view!’
‘Beyond The Familiar’, 21st Anniversary exhibition
249-251 Elizabeth Street
Opening night May 11th, 6pm
Exhibition runs until June 4th
Monday to Thursday 10:30am-5:30pm
Outré Gallery’s ongoing ‘Small Wall Project’ showcasing Australian talent will next present ‘Clear Days’ by Robert Bowers, followed by an exhibition from Kyle Hughes-Odgers. In June, they’ll show the third instalment of a mid-century inspired exhibition co-curated with Gallery Midlandia, where contemporary works will be displayed alongside vintage artworks from Scandinavia. Find out more at Outregallery.com.