Tuesday, 29 November 2011

FourxFour

Gemma O'Brien (L-R) Paraphanelia: Feather (Y), Rope (O) & Worship (T) 2011
Greg Sindel, Robert 'Thom' Smith, Mathew Calandra, James Taylor, Gemma O'Brien, Sydney Guild: Christopher Hodge, Hossein Ghaemi, Amelia  Wallin.

FourxFour
The Paper Mill: November 22- 29, 2011

FourxFour presents the responses from artists who participated in The Paper Mill's 2011 Residency Program. The artist's & collectives involved were invited to use the studio space for their own practice but to also engage with the broader community through events and programs. FourxFour is the result.

I found this exhibition to be very 50/50 in terms of quality and innovation. While some works were exceptional, others fell short, making FourxFour and exhibition of extremes. However in true Paper Mill style, it was beautifully executed. 

Gemma O'Brien, Paraphanelia: Worship (T) (detail) 2011

Gemma O'Brien + Workshop Attendees, Alphabetic Order, Zine: Edition of 26


Gemma O'Brien, An alphabet created by the letter drawing workshop
Gemma O'Brien's work focuses heavily on typography and the detail, particularly in Paraphanelia: Feather (Y), Rope (O) & Worship (T), is stunning. For me her work was the standout of the exhibition. The results of the typography workshops O'Brien held during her residency are also on display and I was pleasantly surprised at the drastic degree to which the styles of typography varied.

Greg Sindel's Ghostly ARTES: Three Tales of Terror is absorbing. The graphic novelist demonstrates great skill with a pen and his story unfolds through cleverly crafted characters. For a sum (any amount you feel appropriate) you can purchase one of his mini publications as a piece of 'take- home' art. The way in which the work was displayed on the wall was overwhelming and there is sense that there is simply not enough time to fully appreciate it all. But it's worth taking the time. 
Robert 'Thom' Smith, Untitled Coneheads, 2011

Setting up for The Last Stand
I was not entirely convinced by the work of Robert 'Thom' Smith and James Taylor. Both the medium used and its execution seemed juvenile to me and reminded me of drawings my mother might have kept from my Primary School days. But perhaps that's the point. Either way, when pitched with such detailed work as O'Brien & Sindel it's difficult not to see it as somewhat lacking- however this could be seen as a curatorial fault- but given it was a residency exhibition the selection was fairly pre- determined. Like I said, 50/50.
James Taylor, Untitled, 2011

Greg Sindel, Ghostly ARTES: Three Tales of Terror, 2011


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Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Paper Mill Sept 2010- Nov 2011

This week The Paper Mill, located near Martin Place in Sydney's CBD, opened it's final exhibition. The gallery will close it's doors for good on November 29, having been open since September 2010. It may have been a short run but it was definitely a memorable one & the CBD will not be the same without them.

I was first introduced to The Paper Mill when I was asked by INCUBATE Magazine to interview 3 of its Directors, Siân McIntyre, Anne-Louise Dadak & Stephanie Peters. They had only been open a short while and what started out as an interview quickly turned into random gossip and ended with lunch. I was convinced. Since then I have been a big supporter of the gallery, impressed by their drive and the high quality of shows presented. It will be very sad to see them go.

Scanning through the near & the elsewhere archive the other day I was reminded of just how many of The Paper Mill's shows I've reviewed so here's a mini retrospective.... cue Barbra Streisand's The Way We Were...

Review of the final show, FourxFour to come... & don't miss the final goodbye send- off on December 15th, 7pm...






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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

HELLO DOLLY

Stephanie Bray, Fall, 2011

Liam Benson, Stephanie Bray, Brightside, Bridie Connell, Sarah Contos, Stephen Giblett, Richard Gurney, Tim Hilton, Simon Lovelace, The Motel Sisters, Naomi Oliver & Susie Rugg.

HELLO DOLLY
Gaffa Gallery: November 17- 28, 2011

Hello Dolly is a diverse group exhibition that "explores representations of women and femininity in art and popular culture with a focus on role play and appearance..." In some of the work this is blatantly obvious, in others it's more vague and in what could be seen as a real first for such an eclectic group show- each work really seems to stand alone.

Stephanie Bray's installation Fall reminded me of Nick Collerson's work which I saw last year in the National Art School Postgraduate Exhibition. It's the attention to detail in this work which makes it stand out. There is a sense that each leaf is perfectly placed and the rake has been positioned just so. Fall is beautiful in its simplicity. 

Susie Rugg, All the trophies I never won... (Part 1) 2011

Susie Rugg, HIGHLY COMMENDED fringe, 2011
The work of Susie Rugg is certainly eye- catching. Incredibly clever and infectiously funny, any work that can make me laugh out loud in a gallery is a winner. Ironically, this is what All the trophies I never won... (Part 1) is about- winning. Or not winning as the case may be. Among the awards are OUTSTANDING & ORIGINAL recorder score, MOST CONVINCING parents signature & my personal favourite, HIGHLY COMMENDED fringe- cause back in Primary School I would have taken that one out for sure. Each trophy is reflective of its achievement and very skillfully crafted. Once again attention to detail is the key and the metallic finish adds a sense of wonder and prestige.  
Sarah Contos, Be- longings, 2011

Sarah Contos, Monument Valley, 2011
I first met Sarah Contos at an opening at Firstdraft Gallery just as she was about to head off overseas to America. Well it would appear she's back and there is no need to ask about her trip- it's all laid out on the gallery floor as Be- longings. Clothes, money, tickets, books, food- it's all strategically and very neatly organised on the floor. It's like a snap shot of her trip, a personalised postcard that's only missing the obligatory 'Wish you were here!' Be- longings is fascinating and slightly voyeuristic- I felt intrusive standing there snooping through Contos' personal items. This work is accompanied by Monument Valley, a photograph of the artist naked in a barren landscape. I thought this was quite appropriate given all her clothes were on the floor. 
Sarah Contos, Be- longings (detail) 2011

Brightside

Simon Lovelace
What I liked about Simon Lovelace's work was his chosen means of display. The vintage books looked fantastic in the frames and the covers themselves were transformed into works of art.

As with most group exhibitions there are always some works that simply fail to leave an impression. It's difficult with so many diverse artists in the mix to set yourself apart from the crowd. Each of the artist's in HELLO DOLLY presented work that commands attention, some perhaps more than others, but the overall impression is lasting. 
Simon Lovelace, Faith of an artist, 2011
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Monday, 21 November 2011

5 Questions With... Artist Thomas C. Chung


Thomas C. Chung

You were trained in drawing & painting- how did you become involved in knitting/ crochet as a sculptural medium?

A little bit under four years ago, I took a somewhat spontaneous trip and went to Scandinavia as an artist.

During the first of my two residencies there, the cold weather which I loved so much made me realise that I had wanted to create something which was much more tactile, conceptually different, yet also relatable to my ideas. This is when I started to learn to knit and crochet, listening and watching, and becoming good friends with old ladies from nursing homes.

There is quite a playful aspect to your work, where do you find your inspiration?

My whole practice stems from the stories from which I would like to tell, essentially speaking of our memories. Re-imagining my life as an old man looking back upon his childhood, my residency in The Arctic Circle (Finland) cemented my need to start from the most humble of beginnings.

The playful side comes from wanting to spread the feeling we had once as a child - no matter how old we are, how scary or bitter the world may seem to us, the little kid inside of us all only wants to explore, be loved and stay happy. I guess my main inspiration is telling the story of that little kid, living in a world which isn't quite the way he thought it would be.

The knitting/ crochet pieces look as if they would be quite time consuming- how long does one sculpture take to make? Is there a specific process involved?

You know how some people can't read music? Well, I can't read knitting or crocheting patterns as such. I just watch, see, learn or make it up myself.

I don't see it being too different from drawing itself actually.......it's kinda like doodling with needles and hooks!Some take hours, some take days, but it's all a mood-thing to be honest. Rotating between the soft sculptures, I also plan ahead with my paintings, drawings and art installations. The common process involved in all of this, is just me trying to tell my stories.

What is the most common question you get asked about your work?

Hmmmm. Most recently I think it'd be, "Did you make these yourself?"

Mind you, I always try to not be offended.

I guess people are still not used to the idea of a young guy using textiles as an art form, specifically knitting and crocheting. Some I know really appreciate it from this aspect, while a few I've met have become very irritated that this is even being considered as Art in the first place!

You have gallery representation in Norway & the Netherlands & have shown extensively both overseas and in Australia- do you have any projects or shows coming up?

I have a two-person show coming up at Hardware Gallery in a few weeks time - December 6-17, 2011 to be precise. And early next year I'll be having a solo show at GAFFA at the Keeper's Gallery, in January 25-February 5, 2012 - coinciding with Chinese New Year.

Please come along. It'd be nice to see and meet new faces!

Thomas C. Chung, "Nighttime Is My Blanket..." 2010, art installation, dimensions variable. Galleri Athene.

Thomas C. Chung, "Nighttime Is My Blanket..." 2010, art installation, dimensions variable. Galleri Athene.

Thomas C. Chung, "Memories In A Bottle" 2010, glass bottles, yarn & acrylic stuffing, dimensions variable. Galleri Athene.

Thomas C. Chung, "Memories In A Bottle" 2010, glass bottles, yarn & acrylic stuffing, dimensions variable. Galleri Athene.

Thomas C. Chung, "Do You See What I See?" 2008, art installation, dimensions variable. Galleri Konstepidemin (Bergrummet)

You can check out Thomas' work on his Website & Facebook Page.

All images courtesy of the artist.

 
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Thursday, 17 November 2011

Briz Vegas Part II: Henri Cartier- Bresson

Queensland Art Gallery







Henri Cartier- Bresson
The Man, The Image & The World

Queensland Art Gallery: August 27- November 27, 2011. 

In my opinion there is no greater form of photography than that of documentary. Whether it be documenting a war, a performance or a person's life, there is something profoundly significant about this style of photography and arguably no one did it better than Henri Cartier- Bresson.

The Man, The Image & The World at the Queensland Art Gallery showcases over 260 of Cartier- Bresson's photographs, encompassing his portraits as well as his travels through Mexico, Indonesia, Europe, China, Japan, the United States and the Middle East. Each photograph was selected by Cartier- Bresson originally for an exhibition of the same name in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris in 2003. Prior to his death in 2004 he instructed that no reproductions or prints were to be produced in his absence. There is not a single one of his photographs in existence that he did not develop himself, so dedicated and particular was he about his work.  

Henri Cartier- Bresson, Truman Capote, 1947.
Henri Cartier- Bresson, Henri Matisse, 1944.
Some of the most remarkable and significant moments in history have been captured through Cartier- Bresson's lens. He just happened to be in India the day before MK Gandhi’s assassination in 1948 and was subsequently able to capture the grief and mourning which occurred after. He was present at the fall of the Kuomintang and Mao Zedong’s communist troops marching into the Chinese capital in 1948 and into 1949 and life behind the Iron Curtain in the Soviet Union during the 1950s.

Henri Cartier- Bresson, Soviet Union, Russia, Leningrad, 1973.
Walking through the beautifully curated exhibition it is simply overwhelming. To have lived such a life and to have seen so much is such a foreign concept to me. So often I feel as if we forget the events and actions which have brought us to where we are today. So often we take what we have for granted and it is with a sense of wonder that I look upon the work of Cartier- Bresson and am reminded of the struggles of the past. However, not all of the images are of staggering world events, some of the most stunning photographs are the portraits. Cartier- Bresson somehow was able to see beyond the exterior of a person to who they were. Whether smiling or serious, each image is honest.

Cartier- Bresson had an uncanny skill for finding the extraordinary in the ordinary and capturing moments and interactions amongst people that the untrained eye might never have seen. This is an exceptional exhibition that perfectly showcases the talent and life of a truly exceptional photographer.  
 

The Man, The Image & The World gives you a snap shot of Cartier- Bresson's working life- and what an amazing life it was. 

Henri Cartier- Bresson, Gestapo Informer, Dessau, Germany, 1945.
Henri Cartier- Bresson, New York, 1947.

 
 

 
 
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Wednesday, 16 November 2011

GUEST WRITER: Elizabeth Little talks Sculpture by the Sea


Gary Dermidjian, Do Not…  

Sculpture by the Sea
Bondi to Tamarama walk: November 3- 20, 2011
Well it’s that time of year again. Time to don hats and sunscreen, time to get sand between the toes and possibly bindi –eyes in the feet, time to dodge the joggers and head east to one of this city’s  most spectacular cliff walks and see if the sculpture can compete with good old mother nature.  Now in its 15th year, Sculpture by the Sea (SxS) attracts crowds in the hundreds of thousands. This sometimes makes it hard to actually see the art as you can easily be swamped by the crowds on the narrow cliff paths.  Although with 109 works on display this year, it’s guaranteed that you’ll see at least some of them.
A confession of sorts- I love Sculpture by the Sea. I love the way it heralds the start of summer, I love the way the art mingles with the natural beauty of the cliffs and the ocean, and the way that people flock to see it and interact with the sculpture on display. I love its popularist nature. I love the way that formalist sculpture gets to stand side by side with the figurative and lyrical works, and that somehow they all make sense. I love the way that people (and the local dogs ) interact with the works in a way that they wouldn’t be able to in a museum setting. And I love the sense of humour that is evident in some of the works. That is always my aim at SxS – to see something that makes me laugh, something which makes me marvel at the skill and artistry of the maker, and something which is so much a part of the cliff walk that you cannot imagine it anywhere else . 
Keizo Ushio, Moebius In Space Planet.
Byeong Doo Moon, I have been dreaming to be a tree... II.
This year I found all three and quite a lot more, including a (probably) unintentional SxS theme colour.   Formalist metal sculptures by Sir Anthony Caro, Ron Robertson Swann, Philip Spelman, Dion Horst, Bert Flugelamn, and  Kashell Robertson Swann were all shades of red, either through the application of paint or the rusting of metal.  Red again was the colour for Chen Wen Ling’s oversized smiling naked man in Tamarama Park and Wang Shugang’s  Meeting I,  a group of life sized men crouching in a circle in St Mark’s Park.  The Easter Island inspired heads in Steve Croquett’s  Heads Up, looking right at home on Tamarama Beach,  were a rusted red. 
Steve Croquett, Heads Up.
Some of the more lyrical works this year included Byeong Doo Moon’s I have been dreaming to be a tree …II in which the antlers of a metal deer extend skywards in the manner of tree roots. Keizo Ushio’s Mobius In Space , made of carved stone was also beautiful to behold. Spirals seem to be forever associated with cliffs and the ocean, and this year turned up in Alison Lea Cousland’s II:II, a row of four carved glass columns that managed to convey ideas of strength and delicacy.  Dave Horton’s Three Madrigals  was one work in three parts, each complete in itself yet somehow more when considered together. 
Wang Shugang, Meeting I
Gary Dermidjian’s Do Not… made me laugh, and then consider the implications of the signage and the imposition of rules and regulations in everyday life. Based on the generic ‘do not touch the sculptures’ provided each year by SxS, Dermidjian’s work supersized the normally small signage. And yes, I did touch it!  I hope Gary approves.
Hannah Kidd, Toads on Tour.
Sculpture Inside was a disappointment. Located in a marquee in St Mark’s Park it displays smaller works that would be easily overlooked or even damaged in the outdoor exhibition.  The works were unimaginatively displayed in rows, which made for easier crowd control but lessened the viewing experience. It felt less like an exhibition and more like a salesroom. Liked one of the big sculptures outside but no where to put it at home? Have a look at Sculpture Inside and find a smaller and more affordable piece.  
Alison Lee Cousland, II:II.
Belinda Villani, The Predators in the Park.
Back outside in St Mark’s Park people were interacting with the sculpture in various ways. Some were having their photos taken framed by Jane Gillings gilt picture frame provenance. Small children were trying to walk through the architectonic spaces of Paul Sellwood’s winning Paradiegma Metaphysics, while other’s were oogling Ken Unsworth’s giant skeleton atop a ladder and trying to work out just how it stayed upright. Belinda Villani’s straw pride of lions, The Predators in the Park, and Hannah Kidd’s metal couple and toads, Toads on Tour were also proving to be a hit with the families!  But my favourite would have to have been Rod McRae’s Time Team  style installation, The Search for Alice, the elephant who was once the star attraction of Tamarama’s Wonderland and who was allegedly shot and buried somewhere on the beachfront. How much more site specific can you get?
This year’s Sculpture by the Sea was all that I wanted. There was some great art, some fun art and some that I didn’t really understand at all and it provided some stimulating discussion points at a BBQ in Bronte Park. What more could you ask of an early summer Friday afternoon?

Elizabeth Little has a B. Art Theory (Hons)and M Art Admin, COFA UNSW. She lives and works in Sydney.

All images supplied by the writer.
 
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Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Briz Vegas Part I: Alfred Hitchcock



The last time I was in Brisbane I was five and it was Expo 88. Apparently a hell of a lot has changed since then. It is the 5th Birthday of Queensland's Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) so I thought it was a good time to finally pay the Sunshine State a visit. I was incredibly impressed with Brisbane as a city. Not as big or spread out as Sydney and nowhere near as fast- paced, I really enjoyed walking around the city and observing the interesting architecture and unusual public art. Loved the open bars and restaurants that littered Queen's Street and the old buildings so carefully restored and maintained. 


South Bank is undoubtedly Brisbane's cultural hub. With the Performing Arts Centre, Queensland Art Gallery, State Library and Queensland GoMA all within walking distance from each other on the bank it is easily the most well planned set up I have encountered. I must admit that while I did love GoMA I preferred the Queensland Art Gallery as a space. The permanent water features, both inside and out, as well as the beautiful sculpture garden for me, just tipped the scales in their favour. GoMA seemed more empty and it just so happened that some of the gallery was sectioned off as they are currently preparing for Matisse: Drawing Life which opens December 3 and includes over 300 of the artist's drawings, prints and illustrated books. Only showing in Brisbane, it certainly give the Art Gallery of New South Wales current Picasso exhibition a run for its money.
   


One aspect of the South Bank I wasn't prepared for was the Streets Beach. There is a man- made beach just beyond the ferris wheel, also known as the Wheel of Brisbane, and on the day I happened to walk past it was absolutely packed. Now, as far as man- made beaches go it's a very good one but I'm from Sydney- I like a real beach- and therefore decided to forgo the pleasure. Interestingly the Wheel of Brisbane was erected in 2008 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Expo 88 and stands on the site where the World Expo once stood. It was scheduled to be removed last year but will remain on the South Bank until 2012. Apparently it is the same wheel that stood in Birmingham's Centenary Square while I was living over in the UK. I didn't hop on it then either.
 


My main purpose for heading to Brisbane was to see the Alfred Hitchcock Retrospective at GoMA. I was scheduled to see Rear Window and Psycho over the course of the weekend. I love both films but the one I was looking forward to the most was Psycho. There is nothing quite like the buzz of seeing one of your favourite films on the cinema screen for the first time and as you can expect Psycho did not disappoint. Norman Bates is the quintessential villain and the final scene where his mother finally takes over his tormented psyche is spine chilling. Hitchcock truly was the master of suspense and never more so than with this film. In all honesty there really wasn't much of a chance that I wouldn't like the Hitchcock Retrospective, his films are iconic, but I have to say GoMA did an amazing job at organising the two month film series and I hope they have a repeat performance with other influential Directors.

Stayed tuned for Briz Vegas Part II: Henri Cartier-Bresson



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