Desperately Seeking Fox…Review of the Len Fox Painting Award

Photo of visitors looking at paintings at the Len Fox Painting Award

Published in Trouble Magazine December 2016

 Photo of visitors looking at paintings at the Len Fox Painting Award

The Len Fox Painting Award,

Until Dec 31st 2016, Castlemaine

Categories. They are very useful things. All sorts of unlikely objects or ideas can be clumped together simply on the basis that they have one thing in common. Art historians tidily sweep works into certain little piles from which a narrative can be plotted. Post Impressionism can go over here, tuck Baroque back a bit, pop in those Futurists there, and now where did I put the Surrealists? It’s a helpful tool albeit with limitations.

In art things are always much more complex. An artist like any human being has a multiplicity of influences, yearnings and aims. And a trajectory of work over a lifetime can veer like a drunken sailor, as for instance in the case of Turner who for many years produced highly rendered topographical views and house portraits before his work transformed into almost completely abstract whirling vortices of light and colour.

If it’s hard to categorise either art or artist, you can imagine the difficulty of administering an art award that has a $50,000 purse for ‘a painting of an Australian subject in sympathy with the work of E. Phillips Fox.’ The artists trying to get their work before a judge might pause and wonder what exactly this means.

Read moreDesperately Seeking Fox…Review of the Len Fox Painting Award

Painting, More Painting: A show more about power than paint

Photo of inside of Painting more Painting exhibition

Photo of inside of Painting more Painting exhibition

The curators at ACCA need to get out more. Painting, more painting, purportedly an overview of contemporary Australian painting, constructs a narrative not about painting but about power in our publicly funded galleries.

This curatorial high priesthood has put together their version of the canon, and it’s a very narrow one. The unrepresentative swill (with thanks to P. Keating) exhibited in Painting, more painting is the result. Predictably, like the joke about Catholics in heaven, the conceptualists are pretending that there is no one else here. This narrative hegemony amounts to a concealment of the real status of painting – tantamount to government censorship.

Read morePainting, More Painting: A show more about power than paint