Purchased through the ANU Emerging Artists Support Scheme in 2014, Sally O’Callaghan’s Café evokes the nullity of a ‘non-place’. Non-places, according to Mahyar Arefi of the University of Texas, include shopping centres, airports, train stations and supermarkets — places where people are numerous, transient and anonymous.
O’Callaghan has a passion for photography and for exploring the possibilities of computer programs such as Photoshop – a passion that affects her approach to painting and to representation as such in fundamental ways. Everything within this cafe is transparent; everything is a shifting inflexion of space and light and a trace in time: faces, people, furniture, architecture.
The translucent, planar colour, the overlaying and overlapping of incidents, the equivalent whiteness of ceiling and floor, and the baffling fragmentation and dematerialisation of a mundane scene do not present a purely negative experience to viewers however. O’Callaghan’s approach to a “world undone” brings with it an exhilarating sense of suspension and openness, with the shards of colour excitingly defamiliarised and reconfigured – as if by the turn of a kaleidoscope.