Art’s Alive at Arc

Arc Yinnar Biennial Drawing Prize                

October 15 – November 26, 2016      

Image of Alexandra Sasse at Arc Yinnar
Visiting Arc Yinnar Drawing Prize


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

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Surreal Worlds – John Leslie Landscape Prize

John Leslie Landscape Prize Review Alexandra Sasse with Nicolas Harding's Wilpena Wattle at the John Leslie Art Prize 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….and ensures that serious contemporary work reaches the regions. It encompasses vertiginous highs and repellent lows. Predominantly the work is largish and surreal. Colour has mostly escaped any sense of

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.

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

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.

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No Fries with That: Why Conceptual Art Was Never Any Fun

Conceptual Art in Britain 1964-79 Catalogue image
Conceptual Art in Britain 1964-79 Catalogue image
Catalogue Image, Conceptual Art In Britian
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.

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