One hundred and seventy-six elegant woodblock prints by Japanese nineteenth century artist Katsushika Hokusai are on display in Melbourne at the NGV. It’s a huge exhibition and a popular one. What is it about these images, from a culture aeons from mine in sensibility and almost two centuries in time that are so riveting? And why do they remind me of Turner, Freidrich and Cozens – those Northern European painters for whom landscape was a metaphor of transcendence? What could a Japanese printmaker have in common with a Romantic painterly sensibility? [Read more…]
Can you find quality artwork online?
If you like art, the internet is a great resource. It has become much easier to see very high quality images of artworks without leaving home. This is a boon to all of us art lovers – exhibitions that are held overseas or in distant places suddenly become (in a lesser version) available.
Of course the experience of an artwork online can only ever be an attenuated version of the real thing. The actual bodily experience of a work is about the presence of an object not an image. But as the market has discovered, we are limited in time and space and still want to experience art. The online world is working hard to meet this desire.
Can you find quality artwork online and is it a safe place to purchase art? I am often asked this question, and the answer is yes, with caution. It will be no surprise to you that profiteers producing large volumes of formulaic works for quick return will take advantage of sites that connect them to buyers. Added to this, the online market is geared towards turnover, not quality. Sites are emerging based on the models of real estate and car sales. But with the right navigational tools, you can also connect with top quality art and artists and see work almost in the process of emerging from the studios. This opportunity to connect with the makers is unprecedented and one of the best things about the online space.
I have researched the players, the motives and the market and put together a guide to take you on your art journey online. I don’t sell my work online, but I am passionate about artists and their audiences connecting. I have written this ebook to help people find genuine artists and high quality artwork. It’s a mad world out there – click on with caution!
Alexandra Sasse is a painter and writer based in Melbourne, Australia. She has a Masters in Fine Art from Monash University and a Postgraduate Diploma in Visual art from the Victorian College of the Arts, but she can still speak English. She does not sell art online.
Seeing the world as more than a backdrop or stage-set for unfolding narratives is the basic premise of landscape painting. It requires sensation rather than symbol to be the dominant motive. This is at odds with the corrosive didacticism of much academic art which looks for the obvious moral in every artwork. The recently set up Hadley’s Art Prize – a $100,000 prize for an Australian landscape painting, is a case in point. It has been called a landscape prize when what they really require is history painting, and a certain kind of history at that.
Hobart hotel owner Don Neil has launched one of Australia’s richest art prizes, with an annual $100,000 award for landscapes…. and this year invites artists to address the theme “history and place”.
Artist and curator Julie Gough, who is one of the judges, says the award encourages artists to think beyond European concepts of landscape as depictions of sublime nature. “History is about story, and the entrants have to consider that as much as things such as vegetation and landforms,” says Gough. “It will be interesting to see how people push that theme.”
The Australian 27th Jan 2017
And here is Ben Quilty, judging the 2017 Glover Prize for Australian landscape painting and commenting: [Read more…]
There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. Oscar Wilde
Films about backing one’s dreams appeal to us all. This one comes with a disclaimer in the title: La La Land is where dreams become reality; it’s not the real world. For most of us, there is compromise and complication, along with a large dose of the basic machinery of life. But even in La La Land, (is it a play on Los Angeles/LA?) success is not without cost.
The opening scene – a traffic jam in LA transformed into an exuberant dance sequence involving hundreds of people and cars – sets the mood. In this film, writer and director Damien Chazelle has managed to simultaneosly sustain optimism and probe doubt, intermingling a love story with two creative journeys. [Read more…]
Are you confused about Art? Do you know what you like or where to find it? Is the work any good or is someone just trying to sell you something? And how are you expected to decipher those dense wall texts? Even Google translate is stumped.
There are some simple guidelines to unlocking these mysteries and they can make a big difference to finding and enjoying art. [Read more…]
Berger’s ground breaking Ways of Seeing was a cultural tour de force. It remains highly relevant today. But I have never been able to agree with most of what he said.
Growing up in an outer Melbourne suburb, I was blissfully unaware of Berger whose book was published when I was about 11. What I was aware of was the painful ugliness of miles of new suburban housing and the almost visceral reaction I had to the destruction of bush, re-routing of creeks and bulldozing of apple orchards in our neighbourhood. This left me with a life-long appreciation of beauty, and a consequent resistance to any philosophy that told me I couldn’t have it, or it didn’t exist. I had seen it, and I had seen it destroyed.
So Berger and I were never going to get along, as for him, concepts like beauty are merely conditioned responses, built into us through culture by the powerful for the purpose of control. [Read more…]
Good Cover, Falls Creek was painted in the Bowl near the base of the Summit T bar in 2016. Although it was early in the season there had been very good falls the past couple of days followed by some brilliant sunshine. Despite my warmest ski gear, I can’t stay out for long so it’s essential to plan carefully. The day before I did this painting I spent some time wandering about making drawings to find a workable composition. I chose one of these drawings to sketch onto canvas back at the lodge before I came out. This method means I can fully concentrate on the essential elements that make up the brilliant whites and deep sky in this painting.
Here is the drawing that was done in preparation.
This picture (below) was taken by a passing snowboarder who also is a photographer – he clearly knows a few things about composition – see that perfect diagonal running from my figure up to the two clumps of trees and on to the horizon. I would like to credit him but I only know him as Tim.
The wooden box you can see in the top image has slots to hold the painting board and the palette in place, to get them both safely back to the lodge without a smudging disaster. A lot could go wrong, but nothing did this time!
This painting will be in the VIP Private Viewing February 2017
Bridge 38 Galley, Richmond, November 10th – 30th, 2016
Attending an exhibition opening can be a bit like going on a blind date. What if I don’t like the work? What will I say? Painting can go so wrong and often does. But in this small gallery in the heart of Richmond, sixteen paintings demonstrate that Harley Manifold knows what he is doing with paint. His surfaces are articulate, composite, layered. Colour is calibrated into convincing form. [Read more…]
David Hockney: Current
National Gallery of Victoria 11th November 2016 – 13th March 2017
Two mobile phones attached to a purple wall greet you at the entrance to this exhibition. Their screens are displaying images of David Hockney’s drawings done on a phone. My younger companion’s first reaction is not to the image but to the type of phone. Iphone not android she observes glancing and moving on.
Is this an exhibition about drawing, about Hockney or about technology? Or about advertising? Apple doesn’t seem to have its logo anywhere, but let’s face it; this exhibition is about one company’s product. Is Apple getting all this endorsement for free? [Read more…]
Arc Yinnar Biennial Drawing Prize
October 15 – November 26, 2016
There’s a converted butter factory in a small town tucked into the green rolling foothills of the Strzelecki ranges, where the main street is wide and cars are parked at 45 degree angles. Anyone who can spell Strzelecki must be a local. This is Yinnar on the doorstep of the still-operating Hazelwood coal-fired power station, subject of much debate and despair.
There’s a Drawing Prize here of national repute. Despite the rhetoric of demographic disasters: job losses, mine fires, pollution, asbestos and the rest, Arc Yinnar an artist run venture has been operating for 32 years. As well as hosting a national prize, it boasts two galleries, public access facilities for printmaking, ceramics, metalwork, photography, painting and drawing, a retail outlet, theatrette and private studios. All this on a shoestring grant of $3000. When the lights go out at Hazelwood, this sort of cooperative venture is what keeps communities afloat and shores up their identity. Its funding should be assured for the long term, but I am told it is reduced every year and tied to utilitarian outcomes.
A drawing show throws up immediate questions; how much drawing is going on, what do people draw and what do they draw for [Read more…]
Published in Trouble Magazine November 2016
This landscape painting prize, based in Sale, is one of those generous moments when a local benefactor makes a significant contribution to the nation’s cultural life. Art awards are like that. For a relatively small sum of money (especially compared to sponsoring sport) an exhibition can be established that generates national interest and ensures that serious contemporary work reaches the regions. Such is the foundation of this present show of 49 works selected from 426 entries. This is considerable bang for your buck.
This is an exhibition with vertiginous highs and repellent lows. Predominantly the work is largish and surreal. Colour has mostly escaped any sense of communicating place or mood and is garish even random. Landscape is realised as political trope, as apocalyptic, as memory, dream, and experience, but…
John Leslie Art Prize, 3rd September – 20 November 2016, Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale
‘A sophisticated observational drawing of a kind not seen often nowadays. The work employed a minimal range of drawn marks to represent a grand view, full of space and depth, and subtly guiding the eye to move from focal point to focal point. A devoted attentiveness is beautifully maintained.’ John Wolseley and Geoffrey Dupree
Published in Trouble Magazine December 2016
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 more…]
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 more…]
This article was first published in the September 2016 issue of The Jackdaw
It hailed facts all day long so very hard, and life in general was opened to her as such a closely-ruled cyphering-book, that assuredly she would have run away…. Charles Dickens, Hard Times.
Perhaps you have noticed the prudish distaste that conceptual art has for any form of pleasurable aesthetic experience. It’s acceptable to be improved by a work of art or to be informed, but one should try not to enjoy the experience. Above all, one must not ask for that infamous quality that can mislead us all – beauty. Conceptual Art In Britain 1964-1979 at the Tate Britain until 29thAugust offers an opportunity to revisit this intensely puritanical movement. [Read more…]
John Baird’s exuberant still life and seascape paintings are vibrant and approachable. This is work that fulfils French painter Dubuffet’s aim of pleasing the man in the street. That is not a criticism, but a commendation, for Baird’s methods of ‘pleasing’ rely on the ability to unite expressive brushwork with strong simplified design. [Read more…]
Clarice Beckett: The Ordinary Instant
2 July to 11 September,
The Gallery, Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre, Brighton
Beckett’s lyrical soft focus paintings are associated with the tonal school of Max Meldrum and his obsession with contrasting shapes and pattern. This exhibition of over fifty works by Beckett (1887–1935) is shown in the context of seven contemporary women painters responding to her work: Lynne Boyd, Michelle Hamer, Kristin Headlam, Pia Murphy, Saffron Newey, Victoria Reichelt and Camilla Tadich.
Meldrum didn’t believe in drawing – his teleological view of art allowed him to believe he had discovered a new ‘science of appearances’ which superceded line drawing. Beckett adopted his views on [Read more…]
Published in The Jackdaw June 2016
A crowd is gathered in front of a picture, there’s shuffling and whispering, angling for a better view. Several people are up close, peering at the surface plane as if cross-examining it. The buzz of conversation is rising as viewers shift their weight and linger in front of this picture. The timed entry to the exhibition means the crowd behind is building, waiting. Finally the noise, now approaching cocktail party level, is too much for the guard. She issues a loud, insistent shhhhhhhhhhh!
It’s not the Mona Lisa, and it’s neither porn nor politics [Read more…]
Painting in the snow; what is the colour of white?
I am painting in oil, a great medium for the brilliance of the colours of the snow and sky, although John Singer Sargent made watercolour look like the only way to approach it. This is Mountain Fire, (1903, John Singer Sargent, Brooklyn Museum)
Sargent’s fluid, semi abstract approach almost suggests automatism – that kind of painting that celebrates the subconscious mind and which was popular after Freud and Jung’s theories became widely known. But leveraging the unconscious mastery of a medium [Read more…]
What would make you drop everything? Last month I booked a ticket on Saturday and got on a 23 hour flight on Tuesday in a rush to see the MADRID REALIST exhibition in Spain. How uncommon to see contemporary paintings that are unafraid of either beauty or realism. [Read more…]