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.
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
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…]
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…]
The skies are overcast in palest purple with a lemon horizon as I drive down Studley Park Rd towards Abbotsford.
It’s after lunch and the light is in the western half of the sky, but low on the horizon shooting a warm yellow haze over the suburbs. There’s a long low shape of a warehouse painted in orange which sets off perfectly the blue distance of the city beyond. It’s May and the air is brisk, crisp, making you move more quickly but not yet to the sudden-intake-of-breath cold we will get to in July. [Read more…]
Contemporary realism is rarely exhibited on these shores.
The perfect storm of the amateur embracing realism and the contemporary art establishment shunning it has resulted in a dearth of serious figurative painting exhibitions. But it’s big news in Spain with the Madrid Realists exhibition at the Thyssen Bornemisza museum. And these are real paintings, not that nonsense that passes for paintings, those made by projecting digital images on to a canvas and colouring in with paint. Not sure of the difference? You wouldn’t be alone in that. [Read more…]
Have you ever wondered about those curatorial briefs that nominate ‘social impact’ in their selection criteria?
It’s a handle applied to artworks to make them easier to deal with, a simple shortcut to appraising a work : good – has social impact, bad – no social impact. But social impact and social comment are not the same, and they are both independent of quality. While it may be reasonable to say that one of the roles of art is that it has a social impact, (as all artworks reflect and comment on the culture from which they arise) to judge a work by social impact is a nonsense, as it is most likely neither evident nor quantifiable. Yet this a key curatorial practice in contemporary art and a measuring stick of many a selection committee who are bullied by funding bodies into making exhorbitant claims about the utility of their exhibitions. [Read more…]
Painting in others’ footsteps
I am in the final stages of a landscape painting which will be called A Quiet Day in Northcote. Perhaps Arthur Boyd was right when he said …all Australian paintings are in some way a homage to Tom Roberts … as Roberts’ own work A QUIET DAY ON DAREBIN CREEK, has been much in my mind as I worked on this picture. [Read more…]