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…]
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…]
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
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…]