Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Sh*t Art World People Say...

Found this via Leg of Lamb. Hilarious & scarily true....

Sh*t Art World People Say from creativetime on Vimeo.
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Monday, 30 January 2012

The Drawing Room

The Drawing Room installation view. Image courtesy of Breenspace.

Various artists
The Drawing Room
Breenspace: January 20- February 18, 2011

I'm almost ashamed to admit I had never been to Breenspace before. Tucked away somewhere between Hyde Park and Central Station it was a gallery I had heard about but never visited. The Drawing Room is designed to challenge the traditional practice of drawing by exploring how artists explore connections between drawing, thought and movement. The work of Hossein Valamanesh is amazing. His intricate and incredibly detailed paintings on newspaper almost defy belief. I would have loved to study them closer with a magnifying glass to see the detail that simply cannot be seen with the naked eye.

I have always been a fan of Simryn Gill. Again, the detail involved and the incorporation of collage into the delicate drawings is stunning. No less than what I have come to expect from Gill. The Drawing Room is a very well curated show with a diverse mix of work that re- evaluates preconceived ideas about drawing. It simultaneously challenges and inspires you.  

The Drawing Room installation view. Image courtesy of Breenspace.

Will French (L-R) Message is the Medium, Self- portrait with capers, 2011. Image courtesy of Breenspace.
Mitch Cairnes, ZZZZZ, 2011. Image courtesy of Breenspace.
Hossein Valamanesh, Swiss Landscape series, 2001. Image courtesy of Breenspace.
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Friday, 27 January 2012

GUEST WRITER: Elizabeth Little visits the Renaissance

Renaissance: 15th and 16th Century Italian Painting from Accademia Carrara, Bergamo
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra: December 9, 2011- April 9, 2012

From the advertising blitz most of us would know that the National Gallery of Australia is currently hosting an exhibition of Renaissance paintings from 15th & 16th century. On loan from the Academia Carrara, Bergamo the show is being widely promoted as including works by Titian, Botticelli and Raphael. As with all advertising it’s a case of don’t fall for the hype and get over excited about rooms full of works by the aforementioned artists. The exhibition includes one Titian, two Botticelli’s and one Raphael, and a host of works by less well known artists.

In an attempt to avoid the queues that formed during the Masterpieces from Paris exhibition of a few years back, the NGA has introduced timed ticketing for the show – which helped manage the crowds on the day I visited, although on the midweek day I visited it seemed that most people had still aimed to be there for the 10am opening.

The exhibition starts with a short introduction to the Academia Carrara that includes portraits of the men responsible for the collection. It then moves into a thematic show of religious paintings, including a room of Madonna and Childs, a room devoted to altarpieces, and ending with a selection of portraits of Renaissance noble men and their families. Paintings of the Saints were plentiful with Saint Jerome, Saint John the Baptist, Saint Catherine, Saint Agnes, Saint Ambrose, Saint John the Evangelist all appearing in multiple paintings. There was a lot of gold in these paintings and despite the artificial gallery setting it was easy to imagine them in darkened churches flickering in the soft glow of candlelight. Raphael’s Saint Sebastian (c.1501-1502) was notable for its exquisite grace and serenity. In this portrayal of the saint, Raphael eschewed the usual composition of a semi naked man, his body twisted and pierced with arrows in favour of a half length frontal portrait of a clothed Sebastian who calmly, yet somewhat sadly, holds a single arrow. The many Madonna and Childs ranged from traditional almost stiff gothic style depictions to more naturalistic ones with Mary breastfeeding in Ambrogio Bergognone’s Madonna Lactans (c.1485), and Giovanni Bellini’s Madonna and Child (c1475-1476) showing Mary holding an infant who seemed determined to pull himself from her grasp. In a less familiar image of the Christ Child, Bernardino Butinone chose to show Jesus’ circumcision in his c.1485 tempera on wood panel painting The Circumcision of Christ.

One of the aspects of the exhibition that I found fascinating was the development of painting styles and techniques. The tempera on panel paintings from the early – mid 15thC section of the exhibition were mostly replaced with oil on canvas by the 16th C. This change in format was the result of both the developing technology of painting, and the changing destination of the artworks from churches to private homes. It was also easy to see the change in the flat Gothic and Byzantine styles with their gold backgrounds, such as in Giovanni de Paolo’s Crucifixion with the Donor Jacopo di Bartolomeo (c.1455) and Nerroccio De’ Landi’s Madonna and Child (c.1470-1475), to the inclusion of recognisable backgrounds of Giovanni D’Alemagna’s Saint Apollina Blinded (c.1440-1445) and Giovanni Bellini’s Madonna and Child (c.1488). It was an interesting reminder that new art styles don’t emerge fully formed but develop in parallel.

The portraits towards the end of the exhibition of Italian noblemen and women demonstrated the skill of artists including Giovan Battista Moroni, Altobello Melone and Paolo Cavazzola, while also giving an insight into the lifestyles of the wealthy with their elaborate hairstyles and luxurious clothes. According to the catalogue Moroni was the pre-eminent portrait painter in Lombardy in the mid 1500s, painting images that captured the personality and naturalness of his subjects. He is represented in five portraits here, including one of a young girl in Portrait of a Child of the House of Redetti c. 1570. Melone’s Portrait of a Gentleman c. 1513 is widely believed to be of Cesare Borgia, and shows an melancholy young man clenching his fist, and standing in front of a dramatic windswept landscape.

The Renaissance is often characterised by a return to humanism and the classical ideals of the Greeks and Romans. This was often seen in the depiction of the ancient gods and goddesses such as Venus and Mars. The NGA exhibition was curiously lacking in these types of artworks, a limitation probably due to the collecting imperative of the Accademia Carrara where the exhibition has been sourced. However there was one instance of non-Christian religious paintings and portraits. This was a small display of six tarot cards dating to mid 1400s. The cards are part of 71 remaining cards from the original pack of 78. They included: King of Cups, Queen of Staves, Knight of Staves, Jack of Staves, The World and The Moon. A mere 17.6 x 8.7 cm these hand painted cards showed signs of wear and tear from everyday use. It was easy to image the nobleman and women of Moroni’s portraits sitting down to a game of cards, and in doing so made the Renaissance seem that little bit closer!

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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Monday, 23 January 2012

What's in a face?

Max Dupain, untitled, 1930s.
Jacques- Henri Lartigue, Neuilly- Solange, 1929, printed 1977.

Various artists
What's in a face?
Art Gallery of New South Wales: September 24, 2011- February 5, 2012.

You know how it is. You've been on holiday for a few weeks, you get home buzzing with stories and bursting with photographs of your travels. When you finally pin someone down to show them, more often than not, the images they are most interested in are the ones with people in them. This fascination with the human face is not a new one. During the late 1800s there was a massive drive to document everything and subsequently whether people realised it or not- they were being photographed. What's in a face? charts the key turning points in the history of portrait photography and demonstrates how perceptions of the human face have changed over the years.

During the 1880s there was a strongly held belief that physiognomy could express something about a person's character, often defining their social status- these ideas were gone with the advent of modernism in the 1900s. 

The 45 photographs on display from the AGNSW collection accurately demonstrate this shift in perception and how as time progressed portraiture wasn't always just about the face. Beautiful images from Man Ray and Max Dupain with a personal favourite being Ben Cauchi's Reverse self- portrait.

Petrina Hicks, Shenae and Jade, 2005.

Ben Cauchi, Reverse self- portrait, 2006.
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Friday, 20 January 2012

Ms&Mr: XEROX MISSIVE 1977/ 2011

Ms& Mr, XEROX MISSIVE 1977/ 2011, production still.

XEROX MISSIVE 1977/ 2011
Art Gallery of New South Wales: December 8, 2011- February 5, 2012.

Ms&Mr explore intersecting realities through their work XEROX MISSIVE 1977/ 2011. Philip K Dick, an American science fiction writer, is shown presenting a speech he made in 1977. Alongside him is his fifth wife Tessa in a more recent interview. The extracts of film are superimposed and merged in such a way that it appears as if the two are carrying on a conversation.

This uncanny exchange is slightly unnerving and although it only runs for approximately four minutes I found myself sitting there long after the work had ended and watching it again. The way in which the figures interact, the timbre of their voices as they seemingly 'speak' to one another generates an alternate version of events and creates a new recollection. This idea of intersecting realities is explored through much of Ms&Mr's practice and it done to perfection here.

More on Ms&Mr.

Ms& Mr, XEROX MISSIVE 1977/ 2011, production still.
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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Twisting the Lilac Stalks

Marianna Lopert, Encounter, 2011.

Jessica Bock, Sophie Bock, Sophia Campanella & Marianna Lopert
Twisting the Lilac Stalks: A Contemporary Ode to The Figure
Gaffa Gallery: January 12- 24, 2012

Twisting the Lilac Stalks, Gaffa Gallery's first show of 2012, was rather surprisingly traditional. The four female artists exhibited each adopt their own take on the representation of the figure in drawing and painting. It is interesting to observe the very different approaches each has chosen and how the subject matter can drastically alter your perception of the work. For example, Marianna Lopert had several works which focused on the feet and form of a ballet dancer, omitting a whimsical, almost 'other- worldly' quality. Alternatively her scenic shots of New York showed the figure as a mere spot in the distance, obstructing any chance of relating to those depicted. In that instance it seemed more about where the figure was than who the figure was. 

While each of the artists brought something new and fresh to the table, I particularly thought the work of Lopert was exceptional. Her attention to detail and use of colour, particularly in Blossomed awakening, was amazing. Having said that, I think her strengths primarily lie with ink pen, graphite and watercolour, as these works were more powerful than her acrylic series.

There is a naivety throughout Twisting the Lilac Stalks which is evidently on purpose. The vibrancy and innocence of youth is present throughout and while the core elements of the show are very traditional, the interpretation is anything but.

Marianna Lopert, For your eyes & Still rose, 2010.

Marianna Lopert, A hint of spring, 2010.
Marianna Lopert, Blossomed awakening, 2011.

Marianna Lopert

Marianna Lopert (L-R) George Washington Bridge, New York New York & Central park NYC, 2011.
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Monday, 16 January 2012

5 Questions With... Artist Kate Mitchell

Kate Mitchell

Your performance- based video work is very humorous & explores what you have described as the 'Disneyland impossible'. Where do you get your ideas?
Ideas come from a plethora of places.  I like to collect images, trawl the Internet, pour over old books, spend time in bookstores, watch old cartoons, waste time on youtube and travel as much as possible.  I become attracted to an image, a colour, an idea, a vibe, and it’ll percolate in the back of my mind for a while.  I end up with a spread of images and they act as a series of conceptual prompts, like theatrical prompts.  The task then is to cast about for connections before they are flung into the bin. Hilarious connections may emerge, or something inappropriate, either way if you stick with it long enough something will happen!

Your work is quite physical- from sawing a hole around yourself to climbing a ladder while cutting the rungs and even carrying a businessman on your back- have you ever injured yourself and is that ever a concern going in?

Beyond the occasional bruise and sore muscles I’ve never injured myself in any significant way. Before embarking on a project I’ll sense what I’m doing is within my physical range of capabilities. For example I wouldn’t tight ropewalk 30 stories high because it’s 100% guaranteed that I’ll fall and die that doesn’t sound like much fun. It doesn’t mean, however, that the action will be easy, it's just that I have to feel like I can give it a good crack!

I’ll see the action in my head and when it comes down to the moment I always feel very calm, corny as it sounds.  I’m always vividly alert, am able to think with clarity and focus, I always feel extremely vibrant, strong and aware of everything around me.  I think it’s the final moment when I know there is nothing more that can be done, when I have to face the commitment of what I’ve set up and see what happens. 

You recently returned from Yokohama in Japan where you completed a one month residency as part of BankART Life III- how was it?

The BankArt residency was quite an experience! A turning point during the month long BankArt residency in Yokohama is that moment when you realise that all of the things that are different and at times difficult result in new levels of patience and understanding of how different systems operate. 

You learn new ways to overcome communication difficulties (ie charades) and you shift your expectations and become more flexible and open.  When the dialogues turn into resolutions you begin to have a sense of the benefits (which may realise much later down the track) that will come out of being apart of any residency experience.  

For me, it is that moment of knowing that everything is always worthwhile, regardless of how you feel at the time, and that  is the most exciting part.

Any memorable moments?

Among many special moments this one was quite memorable!
Shinko Pier performance.

This performance took place on the BankArt Shinko Pier forecourt.
It’s emotion was pitch perfect. 

Where to from here? Any plans for the future?

As a result of the one month residency at BankART Life III residency in Yokohama, Japan in 2011 I’ve made a new 5 channel video work which continues my exploration into endurance action work. 

Magic Undone opens February 1st at Artspace.

Kate Mitchell, Fall Stack, Bakery Scene production image, 2011.

Kate Mitchell, In A Situation, 2011, single channel high def digital video, 6minutes 2 secods, 16:9, colour, silent, videography: Hugo O'Connor - projection shot at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney, Social Sculpture, curated by Charlotte Day, 2011.

Kate Mitchell, Lost A Bet, 2011, single channel standard definition deigital video,19mins 38 secs, 16:9, Black and white silent, videography: Brett Brown, framed newspaper advertisement, 19 x 15cm (framed size).

Kate is also one half of the art collective Greedy Hen.

For more information check out Chalk Horse.

All images courtesy of the artist.
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Friday, 13 January 2012

AGNSW Contemporary Gallery

Ugo Rondinone, clockwork for oracles (detail) 2011.

I was at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on Wednesday to check out the video work by Ms&Mr (review pending) and stumbled into the John Kaldor Contemporary Gallery. Have to say, while I may not exactly love every work in the space, I really like the area itself. The gallery feels far more open since they decided to extend the level and has provided another access through which to get in and out. Here are just some images of the works I did quite like.

In particular the work of Ugo Rondine, what do you want? almost drove me insane. The sound work ensured I could spend no more than a few minutes at a time in the room where a male and female voice kept asking and responding to questions- what do you want? Over & over. 

Loved the humour of Michael Landy's work & felt slightly nostalgic at the reference to Franklins No Frills- the original Australian house brand launched in 1978.

Michael Landy, Painting (1), 2007.

Michael Landy, Drawing (2), 2007.

Michael Landy, Sculpture, 2007
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Thursday, 12 January 2012

This is not the only thing I've done today...

I swear I am working on some actual reviews but in the meantime here's some procrastinating fun...

For more Gosling goodness check out ryangoslingartsadmin.tumblr.com
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Monday, 9 January 2012

Sydney Festival First Night

Brook Andrew
Sydney Festival 2012
Various locations: January 7- 29

It looked as if all of Sydney came out Saturday night to the official launch of the Sydney Festival. With 20 days worth of events which span music, art, theatre and all things in between, the Sydney Festival is a celebration of everything this city has to offer.

It was difficult to know where to start on Saturday night. Walking through Hyde Park we caught the energy and sounds of Norman Jay who had the entire place on their feet & getting their groove on. The Domain was at full capacity as everyone enjoyed the free concert which included artists such as Manu Chao La Ventura, Washington & Gurrumul. Next it was off to Elizabeth Street and the The Jolly Boys who had the crowd cheering for more. 
Brook Andrew

It was hard to miss the work of Brook Andrew scattered around the CBD. His work Travelling Colony, currently at CarriageWorks, was previewed outside Hyde Park Barracks and his inflatable sculptural works could be seen between Hyde Park and the State Library. His instantly identifiable work caused more than one passerby to indulge in a sneaky photo with the art.

By far my personal favourite was Trocadero Dance Palace. Discovering my inner swing, the crowd was shown some classic swing dance steps by the fabulous Swing Patrol. A few simple steps and suddenly the entire crowd is performing a routine that, while perhaps not entirely flawless, was a hell of a lot of fun.

After the lesson The Troc took to the stage and it was the most energetic two and a half hours I've ever seen. Skirts flew and braces were snapped as the 50's engulfed Elizabeth Street. What was most surprising about this was the sheer enthusiasm of the crowd- the buzz was palpable and incredibly infectious. If you were standing still then you were standing in the wrong place.

Sydney Festival First Night was electric. 

The Trocadero

Brook Andrew
Brook Andrew

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