A Look Inside Abbey Rich's Mesmerising New Exhibition

Abbey Rich is known for their vibrant, large-scale murals and masterful work with playful patterns, but in recent years they’ve taken this distinctive style from public walls and outdoor spaces into gallery spaces.

Now, their new exhibition, ‘Paths that don’t go where people want them to go’, is opening at MARS Gallery in Melbourne tomorrow – marking the local artist’s biggest show to date.

Combing contemporary sculptures, beautifully bold paintings and an external mural created in collaboration with Atong Atem, it’s equal parts joyful and thought-provoking. See a special preview below!

Christina Karras

Abbey Rich with one of their new pieces for ‘Paths that don’t go where people want them to go’ at MARS Gallery. Photo – Sam Biddle

The showcase features 21 paintings, 4 sculptures and a mural outside the gallery! Photo – Sam Biddle

As part of Abbey’s commentary on the failings of urban design, the patterns were derived from these public spaces that often prioritise form over function. Photo – Sam Biddle

Abbey also worked with metal structures in the new sculptures, with the help of Ben from Groovefab to create these works. Photo – Sam Biddle

‘A path in Arizona’ by Abbey Rich.

‘Urban planner doesn’t know best’ by Abbey Rich.

From left to right: ‘Flower #1’, ‘The path that still doesn’t work’, ‘Nothing ever changed’ by Abbey Rich.

‘Desire for something else’ by Abbey Rich.

Christina Karras
3rd of February 2023

After seven months’ hard work, local artist Abbey Rich is finally gearing up to reveal their biggest showcase yet at MARS Gallery Melbourne.

‘Andy Dinan (MARS Gallery’s director) and I spoke about the exhibition almost a year ago, so the ideas have been brewing for almost as long,’ Abbey says. ‘I’ve been physically making the work for about seven months now which, truth be told, is the longest I’ve worked on anything before. It really gave me the space and time to develop the work to it’s true potential.’

Paths that don’t go where people want them to go’ is also the culmination of their extensive work navigating public spaces in their art projects, having created more than 40 murals for local councils, art festivals and major events.

‘The title alludes to the notion that there are many beautiful things in our everyday environment that just don’t work,’ Abbey explains. ‘These issues can be overlooked when the design is aesthetically pleasing.’

Abbey looked to these beautifully disguised ‘failings’ in urban design for inspiration behind the patterns and geometric shapes in their abstract new collection. The resulting pieces are filled with playful lines and bright contrasting colours, almost like eye-catching optical illusions with a hidden meaning within, exploring important questions about accessibility, safety and functionality.

The bold showcase features 25 pieces in total – 21 paintings, 4 metalwork sculptures and one mural created in collaboration with South Sudanese artist Atong Atem.

‘I really wanted to create something that could be viewed at any time, whether the gallery was open or not. Something that could guide you from the outside in and would last long after the exhibition ended,’ Abbey says of the mural.

‘The show is joyful but hopefully thought provoking. I want people to feel joy in viewing the work even if they don’t take a piece home.’

See ‘Paths that don’t go where people want them to go’ on at MARS Gallery from February 4 until February 25.
Download the catalgoue here.

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