Posts Tagged ‘Contemporary Art’

In this liminal, pre-exhibition week, it’s births and deaths

It’s a strange, strange space you’re in, working up to the installation of a show. I’ve been doing it for 15 years now and it seems I’ll never get used to it.

I guess I am better than I used to be, but there is a disruption in the pit of my stomach and everything is amplified along my nerve pathways.

 

Industrial scape with pink stacks

Industrial scape with pink stacks, 2015, mixed media on paper, 80 x 90 cm, AUD $600 framed

 

What precisely am I anxious about?

It’s a cliche among art folk that it’s because you’re putting  a piece of your soul out there for the world to shrug at.  I’m not so sure. Isn’t it more about the exposure of your decisions; your judgements? You’re only exhibiting the work you consider fully resolved, i.e. finished. Will your audience agree?

I look at art all the time and it’s a constant judgement thing. It’s not that you judge the artist personally, but you are considering the decisions they’ve made about colour, values, composition. Those who are interested enough will be doing the same to me. In some weird way I want that; but at the same time I’m horrified by the thought.

 

IN THE GREEN NIGHT

In the green night, 2016, 15 x 28cm, mixed media on paper, AUD $190

In this week of the great loss of David Bowie, I just need to proceed, in his honour if I can’t manage anything else. What a shining example of unapologetic originality. Thanks David… I’ll be imagining you’re coming along to the show. That would be great.

 

BOWIE

 

 

 

Bright stars in the Archibald firmament

I went up to AGNSW recently to check out the annual Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes. As always, there was much to enjoy, as well as some that maybe didn’t truly deserve to be there.

PORTRAIT OF TIM BONYHADY

Andrew Sayers, Portrait of Tim Bonyhady, oil on canvas, 100 x 75cm

Andrew Sayers’ piece was an understated charmer. I enjoyed the tight little triangle of composition and the no-fuss content. The downward pointing finger was marvellous.

I wasn’t wild about Nigel Milsom’s winning portrait of Charles Waterstreet, Judo House pt 6 (the white bird.) I enjoyed the pattern of his sewn-up mouth; his collar and the repetition of the motif in his monster hands; his diagonal line of buttons. The surface though, especially as the eye travels down the canvas, seemed too flat; too thin. I didn’t find it satisfying to spend time with.

MILSOM, NIGEL_JUDO HOUSE #6

Nigel Milsom, Judo House pt 6 (the white bird), oil on canvas, 232 x 190cm

 

Jeremy Kibel’s mixed-media portrait of Dr Dick Kwan was surprisingly interesting to examine. Multiple collage elements, a bright red horizontal at the top and blue around the other 3 edges along with the economical, stencil-style description of the head. A variety of surfaces made this an enjoyable work.

KIBEL, JEREMY_PORTRAIT OF DOCTOR DICK KWAN

 

Kerry McInnis’s portrait of Omar Musa was characterised by qualities I’ve come to expect – understated, beautifully observed and not at all laboured. It got my vote in the end. She’s a consistent performer, though her work perhaps lacks the sense of spectacle that many Archibald winners possess. I’d like to see her make it one year though.

MCINNES, KERRY_OMAR MUSA POET OF UNEASE

Kerry McInnis, Omar Musa, poetry of unease, 230 x 165.9cm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of the Illawarra @ NSW Parliament House

Great excitement! I’m participating in a big group show ‘ Out of the Illawarra’, featuring 30 artists from IAVA (Illawarra Association for the Visual Arts.) We’ve stormed the barricades and created an oasis of beauty in the Fountain Court Foyer of NSW Parliament House, Macquarie Street Sydney. It’s 1 single minute’s walk from Martin Place Station, opening this Thursday. Come on down!

 

OOTI INVITE FRONT          OOTI INVITE BACK

There’s gonna be a hangin’…..doing the biz at the Thirroul Seaside Festival Art Prize

For a second year I’ve had the happy task of curating the main Art Prize Exhibition at the ever-popular Thirroul Seaside Arts Festival. This community event is a fundraiser for the Lions Club with profits going to various charities. A worthwhile endeavour then, and it attracts thousands of punters.

The Art Prize has been going for about 25 years, and typically showcases work across the whole spectrum of styles and skill levels.

There are just short of 200 works on show ( not counting the separate ‘Miniatures’ show, which is a wonderful enclave of works measuring 10 x 10cm.) That’s a helluva lot of seascapes, and I have to admit that  traditional approaches to this subject are  not especially attractive to me.

However, amongst some ordinary pieces are some really worth checking out. Christine Hill is an Illawarra artist of considerable standing whose works often attract sales and awards.

 

HILL, CHRISTINE_SKY BLUE

 

Christine Hill, Sky blue, 2014, oil on canvas, 70 x 60cm.

 

Sue Smalkowski won this year’s overall prize, a great choice by the judges I thought. Sue’s work have a quiet presence and reward continued looking.

Probably my favourite piece would have been Mary Wingrave’s encaustic work, below.  Showing the influence of the American Jasper Johns, and a lovely mastery of composition there. She knows where your eye will linger. I love Mary’s work, she’s very consistent.

 

WINGRAVE, MARY_Aries-Indicator of the reborn sun-Amon-Ra

Mary Wingrave, Aries-Indicator of the reborn sun-Amon-Ra, 2015, encaustic on board.

Upcoming Workshop at Shellharbour Village Exhibition Space

WORKSHOP NOW FULL, THANK YOU.

The good folks at Shellharbour City Arts Society  invited me to conduct a workshop this month and I was delighted to accept.

LANDSCAPE-WITH-MAPPING-ELEMENTS-VII

One of mine from last year: Landscape with mapping elements VII, acrylic & collage on canvas, 75 x 45cm

I’ll be working with the idea of  deliberate simplicity. I reckon (and it’s far from an original thought) that art-making can get too complicated…we can get caught up in ideas about what it ‘should’ be…all the rules and regulations about art,  or – perhaps more to the point- what others may think of our art. Will it be too weird? Will people laugh (presumably behind my back, if they can hold  on that long) and what about my skill level?  These worries may prevent us from expressing ourselves authentically. It’s certainly something I fight with.

Getting  past worrying about what others may think is no easy task of course, and unlikely to be achieved in a 4-hour session with strangers. What I’m aiming for is a supportive environment, and I’ll introduce some brief exercises where the skill level of the individual is irrelevant. These exercises will focus on  the formal elements of art – tone, composition, colour, line, texture, pattern etc. Yes, they’re  the kind of things that engaged us when we were in Kindergarten. They remain the building blocks of artistic expression though. They are what make us want to look and keep looking.

Whistler_nocturne in black and gold_falling rocket

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (US, 1834-1903) Nocturne in black and gold: the falling rocket, c.1872-77, oil on canvas, 60.3 x 46.6cm. The composition and tonal contrasts in this work make us want to look at it all day.

That’s not to say that the conventions and techniques of Western art  should be disregarded. I’m all for formal education. It’s just that as  our cultures have changed, so art-making has changed. It’s not the purely artisanal skill it was in the Renaissance. What we want, or need, from our art has changed too. During the 20th century, the importance of the concepts behind art became recognised, as did the the idea of art as a form of personal expression. My view is that anything that prevents someone from trying art today needs to be challenged.

However I  don’t intend to run  a  ‘let’s make mud pies, children’ sort of session.

I’m hoping that by deliberately restricting our options within the exercises, we can forget ourselves for a moment and feel  we have license to express ourselves more freely.

I did a workshop based on this idea back in June 2014. People seemed to receive that one well, so, encouraged by that, when I was approached by the Society I thought I’d develop the idea a little.

Still some spaces available – max class size will be 8 people.

Thurs Feb 19, 12midday – 4pm

Shellharbour Village Exhibition Space, Wentworth St Shellharbour Village – next to Tourist Office.

Cost $60, all materials supplied

Light refreshments provided.

Bookings and payment/further enquiries: contact Moira on 0400 374 362 or moira.kirkwood@gmail.com

Kindly note full payment will secure your place, and must be received by Feb 17.

Drawing as a life-long practice

We visited AGNSW this week to check out the new-look Dobell Drawing Biennial.  Up until a couple of years back, the Dobell has been a Drawing Prize, with submissions from all and sundry.  The final show  was a selection of high quality works which made up a varied, interesting show. (Find out more about the history of the Dobell Prize here.) As Sydney artist Jane Bennett has pointed out, it also gave a wide spectrum of artists the opportunity to be recognised in this major Australian venue. It was always a favourite of mine, and I never felt it was promoted as effectively as it could have been.

Ivy Pareroultja_JAMES RANGE 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ivy Pareroultja, James Range, 2010, watercolour on paper on board, 26 x 36cm.

 

However all that’s history, and now AGNSW presents a biennial event with a showcase of 10 established artists chosen by a Guest Curator. This year that person was Anne Ryan,  currently Curator Australian prints, drawings and watercolours at the Gallery. All this year’s chosen artists are well established Australians, some familiar to me and some not:  Tom Carment;  Joe Furlonger;  Ross Laurie;  Ivy Pareroultja (an example of her work above):  Ana Pollak;  Peter Sharp;  Mary Tonkin;  John R Walker;  Gosia Wlodarczak;  and John Wolseley.

 

Wlodarczak’s work was unfolding before us as she drew on the glass walls of the Gallery. Her work is always very busy; an intense linear exploration, here responding in an intuitive way to what she was seeing through the glass. It is more than simply this though. She works at being in the moment  and responding to all that her senses may bring to her. She says:  

I try to look at the reality in a non-hierarchical way, and to grasp an impression registered by my eye before my brain applies to it filters of our social and cultural knowledge. (http://www.gosiawlodarczak.com/Pages/Statement.html)

It’s fascinating and immersive, as though we are getting an intimate view of her mind.

GOSIA WORKING AT AGNSW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gosia Wlodarczak working on her installation during the opening week of the show, in situ  on one of the Gallery glass walls.

John Wolseley too, has a mystical kind of approach to his work. He sees himself as a ‘hybrid mix of artist and scientist.’ He has a deep love of the Australian flora and fauna and seeks to collaborate in some way with the world when he describes it. This often involves an abrogation of control, directly rubbing  his paper supports against trees and plants, using the random marks that result.

 

John Wolseley A Clarence Galaxia in the Ancient Sphagnum Bogs – Skullbone Plains, Tasmania 2013 (detail), watercolor, graphite on paper, 140 × 300 cm

 

 

 

 

 

John Wolseley (U.K. b.1938)A Clarence Galaxia in the Ancient Spagnum Bogs, Skullbone Plains, Tasmania, 2013   (detail), watercolor, graphite on paper, 140 × 300 cm.

 

 Ivy Pareroultja’s work is very reminiscent of Albert Namatjira, and this is unsurprising given that she was born in Hermannsburg in the Central Desert area of the Northern Territory, and is a descendant of the Hermannsburg Watercolour Movement painters.  This group sprang out of Namatjira’s work. (More on Albert Namatjira here.)

The champion for me though was always going  to be Tom Carment. I love how he just keeps on keeping on with his practice – a daily plein air exploration with a deft, wiggly kind of hand.  His works are so understated but beautifully seen.

CARMENT, TOM_COLEDALE BEACH CARAVAN PARK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Carment, Coledale Beach Caravan Park, 2014

 

Upcoming workshop on abstract art-making

Over the Summer I’ve been delighted to be part of Local: current, now showing at Wollongong Art Gallery (previously Wollongong City Gallery.) I’m in excellent company with this show, thoughtfully curated by Louise Brand. As part of the show I’ll be conducting a workshop on abstract art-making. I see it as an opportunity to perhaps open some doors with regard to abstract art, which continues to be mysterious to many. Details below…

 

WORKSHOP FLYER_FB

STEHR, KATE_POLARITY OF PURPOSE_2012