Frogs but few princes: Geelong Contemporary Art Award 2018

'The Awakening' by Andrew Browne. Geelong Contemporary Art Prize 2018 Winner

9th June – 19th August 2018

Katherine Hattam painting '72 Derwents' at the Geelong Contemporary Art Award 2018
’72 Derwents’ Katherine Hattam

 

In looking at art, sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. That moment when the object you encounter resonates with eye and mind and takes you somewhere strangely new. The latest incarnation of the Geelong Contemporary Art Award is no exception. Hurry on down. If you are looking for a quiet place away from the crowds; this is it. A sunny Queen’s Birthday Monday afternoon – the third day of the exhibition – had the public staying away in hordes.

And why not? Given the frog to prince ratio we have come to expect in contemporary art shows, even the June seaside weather is more reliably rewarding. I feel a bit like a punter before a pokie machine. Will this show give me anything for my invested time, my careful perusal of painting and statements? Or should I be at the beach? Like a gambling addict I am willing to give it a try.

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The Humility of Hokusai

Hokusai
Woodblock print The Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai
The Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai

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?

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Is Landscape Painting History?

Alexandra Sasse landscape painting in North Melbourne Australai

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:

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‘Afternoon Shadows’

This is a small Australian landscape painting in the Bowl at Falls creek. A related work of the same subject is Summit T-bar Fine Weather. This one is painted fast, as you can tell from the brushstrokes depicting the masses of snow gums which divide up the picture and create the form of the mountain. …

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Why You Will Love ‘La La Land’

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as Mia and Sebastian in "La La Land"

There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. Oscar Wilde

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as Mia and Sebastian in "La La Land"
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as Mia and Sebastian in “La La Land”

 

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.

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Confused about Art?

cartoon about visiting art galleries

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.