Posts Tagged ‘Fine Art’

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

 

America the beautiful

Yesterday a buddy and I visited the Art Gallery of NSW to check out the Summer blockbuster America: painting a Nation.  The works were organised chronologically, following America’s development since white settlement. We were able to witness the changes in the way Americans have seen themselves.

Copley, John Singleton_Portrait of a Lady_1771.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Singleton Copley (1738-1815) Portrait of a lady, 1771, oil on canvas, 126.9 x 100.3cm

The 18th century portraits were similar in style to the European ones I’m more familiar with.  Idealised, ‘airbrushed’ images of perfect flesh and immaculate rendering of fabrics. This image by Copley is an example, with the addition of a marvellous capturing of character for which he was famous. I could have sat with this image all day.

The 19th century saw a relationship with the wild landscape which was being ‘conquered’ as people moved west. There was an undercurrent of conflation of principles of liberty, a noble principle, with the right to colonise and develop the land.

We did see some images that made reference to the plight of the First Peoples, including this beauty:

REMINGTON, FREDERIC_HERD BOY_C.1905

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frederic Remington (1861-1909) The herd boy, c. 1905, oil on canvas, 68.9 x 114.9cm

 

wyeth,nc_MOVING CAMP_1908

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NC Wyeth (1882-1945) Moving Camp, 1908, oil on canvas, 92.1×66.4cm

This image was amazing. It was in fact darker than it looks here. It was dim, really. But the line of bright water, aligned with the chiefs’ headgear, was really interesting. you could not take your eyes off this one. It is worth considering in more detail in terms of its composition.

It was great to see a Mary Cassatt image in the flesh. The canvas is wonderfully active. She went off to join the French Impressionists and exhibited with them several times.

CASSATT,  MARY_MOTHER ABOUT TO WASH HER SLEEPY CHILD_1880

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) Mother about to wash her sleepy child, 1880, oil on canvas, 100.3 x 65.8cm

I finally got to see a work by the father of Abstract Expressionism, Hans Hofmann. The show finished with the Ab Ex painters, more or less.

Blue Monolith, 1964 (oil on canvas)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) Blue monolith, 1964, oil on canvas, 183.5 x 152.7cm

I did enjoy the material presence of this, although I’m not sure I really received it as he intended…the scale was relevant, it’s pretty big and…unapologetic. I enjoyed the negative space. There was depth and movement to be sure. Maybe I needed to spend more time with it.

 

 

Our humanity through the lens – Richard Avedon at the National Portrait Gallery Canberra

Last week I got down to the Nation’s Capital and visited People, the current Richard Avedon show and the first exhibition of his work in Australia.

Avedon’s career spanned many decades and he photographed some  of the best known figures of the day. He worked for Harper’s Bazaar during the 1940s, and developed a minimalist aesthetic using a stark white featureless background. This was avant-garde for the day and became his signature.

There were some iconic images there – Twiggy in a back-revealing dress; Elizabeth Taylor, young and so voluptuous, surrounded by the curves of a cock -feather hat.

 

Avedon, Richard_Elizabeth Taylor_cock feathes by Anello of Emme_1964

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Taylor, cock feathers by Enello of Emme, 1964.

Avedon created technically marvelous portraits, so I’m told. They certainly looked  clear and interestingly composed. My favourites included four separate images of poignantly young and serious men who were known as the Beatles, and an image of Warhol with Candy Darling and Jay Johnson from 1969. He had several of people with their eyes closed, which seems to give the viewer a voyeuristic license somehow.

Avedon, Richard_Andy Warhol with Candy Darling and Jay Johnson_1969

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andy Warhol with Candy Darling and Jay Johnson, 1969

 

A magnificent Marian Anderson, the first Afro-American to sing at the New York Metropolitan Opera. She is all hair, lips, jewellery and he captured her whilst she was singing for him in 1955

Avedon, Richard_MARIAN ANDERSON_1955

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marian Anderson, 1955.

 

There was also a magnificent, and again painfully young Nureyev – lean, hard with an enormous cock.

 

Avedon, Richard_rudolph nureyev  1961