Monday, 30 April 2012

Wool Modern Launch

Wool Modern Launch
Walsh Bay: April 24th, 2012

Wool Modern is a component of a much larger global initiative called 'Campaign for Wool' that is attempting to highlight the benefits of using real wool to retailers, designers and manufacturers. 'Campaign for Wool' is not some overnight trend, the campaigns Patron, HRH The Prince of Wales, has been supporting this endeavour since its launch five years ago, publicly demonstrating his support of the wool industry. 

Wool Modern has brought together the "who's who" of the fashion and interior design industry both national and abroad. With designers such as Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, Collette Dinnigan, Paul Smith, Christian Lacroix, Henry Wilson & Sarah King taking part was there ever any doubt of its success.

With the exhibition finding its home in the ideally located Pier 2/3 in Walsh Bay, the visual impact of the event was stunning. Well curated by London- based Charlotte Lurot, Director of the Bacchus Studio, the expansive interior and selective lighting created an intimate atmosphere in such a large space.

Personal favourites included the gorgeous black beaded dress by Collette Dinnigan, the Vivienne Westwood coat & the eye catching installation piece by Angela Wright.

John Galliano
Angela Wright

Vivienne Westwood

Collette Dinnigan

Charlotte Olympia

Britta Teleman

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Sunday, 29 April 2012

Ex Post Facto

Stephanie Peters, Junk Draw, 2011

Aaron Anderson, Kate Campbell, Anne- Louise Dadak, Christopher Hodge, Sian McIntyre, Stephanie Peters & Laura Pike
Ex Post Facto
MOP Projects: April 19th- May 6th, 2012 

Exactly four months after The Paper Mill closed its doors its Directors, Aaron Anderson, Kate Campbell, Anne-Louise Dadak, Christopher Hodge, Siân McIntyre, Stephanie Peters and Laura Pike have come together again to present Ex Post Facto (meaning 'after the fact').

While The Paper Mill did not have a long life span, its impact on the prevalence of art in Sydney's CBD was evident. I would argue that The Paper Mill was one of the best curated spaces in Sydney, even managing to make mediocre work look plausible, and the credit for this must fall in a large part to the Directors.

Stephanie Peters' sculptural pieces Junk Draw & Small Seas address issues of scale and the manipulation of familiar scenarios while exploring the "imaginary world of architecture". The detail in both works is exceptional and there is a whimsical quality that makes me think of that scene in 'Alice in Wonderland' when she drinks the potion and becomes a giant. I want to say the work is cute without it sounding like an insult- because it is cute & that's half the reason why I love it.  

Stephanie Peters, Small Seas, 2011

Stephanie Peters, Small Seas, 2011

Laura Pike, Map Study, 2012
We see a different sort of landscape explored through Laura Pike's work Map Study. Actual geographical representations have been distorted and combined with memory & personal experience. This combination creates a new map through which traditional ideas are distorted & replaced by alternate realities. Again the detail is beautiful & transforms the work into something which could be viewed several times over & it would still be like seeing it for the first time.

The thing which I love the most about Siân McIntyre's work is the combination of intricate, systematic patterns over the pop cultural image of Sylvester Stalone. Not only does this pairing not appear out of place, the two differing elements seem completely at home with one another. The balance between object, space & history are reflected in this work. The screen printing alone would have been stunning but by printing over the image of Stalone a greater depth is achieved & a slightly comical one at that.  

Seeing all The Paper Mill Directors together again gave the exhibition a slight nostalgic feel. Hopefully this will be the first of many shows by these seven artists whose imprint on the Sydney art scene is still sorely missed. 

Siån McIntyre, "...if you keep on walking" (ex post facto) 2012

Anne- Louise Dadak, It is what it is i, ii, iii, 2012
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Friday, 27 April 2012

Izabela Pluta: Study for a sham ruin

Izabela Pluta, Study for a sham ruin #7, 2012, Pigment print, 50 x 50cm

Izabela Pluta, Study for a sham ruin #8, 2012, Acrylic on pigment print, 50 x 50cm

Izabela Pluta
Study for a sham ruin
Galerie pompom
: April 10th- May 5th, 2012

There is something distinctly sad about Izabela Pluta's Study for a sham ruin series. The overcast grey sky, the neutral undertones & the obvious lack of human presence create a sense of displacement. You know you are looking at something that has meaning yet it is unrecognisable, somehow lost & isolated. 

In contrast to this is the Folded card series which carries with it a sense of nostalgia. The detail in these prints is exceptional & there are undertones of human involvement that aren't apparent in Study for a sham ruin. By folding the cards Pluta creates a new image that resembles but is distinct from its original. By framing them with an expanse of white space around the image the artist is, in a sense, allowing the work room to breathe as such detail would be lost if the prints were swamped. 

This is Pluta's first solo exhibition at Galerie pompom & the smaller scale of the gallery really compliments the work. Beautifully curated.      

Izabela Pluta, Folded card #5, 2012, Pigment print, 50 x 50cm

Izabela Pluta, Folded card #2, 2012, Pigment print, 50 x 50cm

Izabela Pluta, Folded card #1, 2012, Pigment print, 50 x 50cm
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Saturday, 21 April 2012

Connie Anthes: Broken Symmetries

Connie Anthes, Untitled (dropsheet inflatable #3) 2012
Connie Anthes
Broken Symmetries
Damien Minton Gallery: April 17- May 5, 2012

Now I realise after my last post it may come as a surprise that I found myself at three shows last week. But I didn't say I'd never go to another exhibition-just that I'd wait until it was a show with promise. So when an invite for Connie Anthes first solo exhibition at Damien Minton found its way to me I decided to ignore my cynicism and go.

Broken Symmetries presents an investigation of materials, alternate methods and different modes of perception. Adopting a predominantly pastel colour palet, Anthes has moved on from the brighter colours of her masters degree body of work. The mint green hues induce a calming effect and the injection of yellow, pink and purple heighten the symmetry of the larger works.          

Connie Anthes, Untitled (shape study #4) 2012
The smaller pieces are more abstract while maintaining a similar colour range to the larger works. Whether it is due to the abstract lines or the smaller scale, these works are not as strong as the larger canvases. 

In the centre of the room is a large inflatable cube on a wooden base. Air is circulated from underneath and the object itself sways precariously from side to side. This installation is slightly hypnotic and maintains the same shapes and lines of the painted works. 

With three of the larger pieces entering the Artbank collection, it's fairly safe to say Anthes' is destined for good things.
Connie Anthes, Untitled (broken symmetry #2) 2011

Connie Anthes, Untitled (broken symmetry #5) 2011
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Friday, 13 April 2012

Where has all the good art gone?

I walked into an art gallery today and saw a Hungry Jacks paper takeaway bag sticky taped to a wall. Something in my brain snapped. Suddenly I was filled with an overwhelming sense of rage- is this all I am to expect these days? Rubbish stuck to a gallery wall. It didn't even appear to be done ironically. What am I doing?

Lately I have been rather absent from gallery openings- this is for two main reasons- 1. I don't actually like openings & 2. I have become so disheartened by the calibre of what passes for art these days that I simply cannot bare the disappointment. I am the first to admit I am overly cynical about art. I don't hold my cynicism up as some sort of badge of honour- I'm not proud of it- but increasingly I feel it is tarnishing my opinions and views on  contemporary art. Where is the open minded girl I once was who relished the anticipation of an opening night with child- like glee? Has one too many bad shows turned me into the bitter & cynical writer I see staring back at me in the mirror?

I want to be amazed. I want to be inspired, impressed, repulsed, educated, challenged- anything- what I don't want is to be bored. Call me a sentimental, conservative traditionalist but I want to look at something & not think I could have done it myself- when I was twelve.

Having said all this there are some artists out there who I do genuinely feel are doing great things- Kate Mitchell, Dara  Gill, Peter Nelson, Paul Williams, Penelope Benton, Sam Smith, Soda_Jerk, Brown Council, Harriet Body- & that's just the ones I can recall off the top of my head. These artists produce work that demonstrates skill, thought and that dirty of all dirty words- consistency. I want to see art that makes me feel something but lately all I've felt is that I'm wasting my time. I've been churning out what I would argue are mediocre reviews of shows I've liked but not loved and it's not doing me, or the artist, any favours.

So I've decided that until I see something that has the potential to move me in some way- be it positive or negative- I'm not going to shows or openings. If I get an invite or a press release to something I feel could be the exception only then will I make the effort. This is often a thank- less job. If you write something positive about a show no one acknowledges it, if you write something negative you get an abusive email. What I think artists would do well to understand is that the same guts it takes them to put their art out in the public domain is akin to what it's like for a writer to put their opinion out there. The same judgement and criticism is levelled at writers as it is at artists- just usually from a different audience.

I apologise for this disillusioned rant but there is only so many times you can polish a turd before you realise it's still just a pile of sh*t.  
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Thursday, 12 April 2012

Christian Marclay: The Clock

Christian Marclay, The Clock (still) 2010. Courtesy of White Cube, London, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York & the artist.

Christian Marclay
The Clock
Museum of Contemporary Art: March 29- June 3, 2012

Described as the 'most complex thing made by any artist so far this century', The Clock is like nothing you've ever seen. The artist takes snapshots of films that relate to time such as clocks or instances of time passing, and creates a mash-up that portrays a strange sort of narrative connected by the passing of time. This is particularly amazing given that each of the films used are of different gneres and narratives yet the artist manages to create an almost seamless plot. The Clock runs for 24 hours and there is no need to glance at your watch while viewing it, you only need to watch the screen to know what the time is- Marclay is documenting time as it passes in reality. If it's midday when you first sit down it will be midday in the film. It would be all too easy to view the work for numerous hours- our ability to identify the films used makes this work an engaging experience. But, ironically, you simply don't have the time to stay all day. 

Every Thursday the MCA will present a special 24 hour screening of the work. Coffee will be served at the MCA Cafe to help keep you awake!

Christian Marclay, The Clock (still) 2010. Courtesy of White Cube, London, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York & the artist.
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Tuesday, 10 April 2012

GUEST WRITER: Elizabeth Little experiences Drawing Week at NAS

As one of the oldest art schools in the country, the National Art School in Sydney’s Darlinghurst boasts of a history dating back to the 1840s. The NAS uses the atelier method of teaching, with small numbers of students working under the tutelage of practising artists.

As part of the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, each academic year begins with Drawing Week. This is a week of intensive drawing that all students in second and third year of the BFA must undertake. First year students are also able to take part as Drawing Week coincides with their orientation week. The National Art School philosophy is based on the idea that to draw is to engage with the act of seeing, of interpreting and transcribing the objective and subjective worlds. NAS students must undertake drawing throughout their degree, no matter what studio area of practice they choose to specialise in.  Drawing is viewed as being fundamental to the life of an artist.

This year the majority of students spent the week visiting Cockatoo Island, drawing the myriad of buildings, landscapes, waterscapes that this island in the centre of Sydney Harbour could provide. Other students embarked on a drawing project that drew inspiration from the streets of Darlinghurst. Drawing is broadly interpreted to include all forms of mark marking including: abstract drawing, drawing with string, frottage, objective drawing, still life, animation. The work produced by the students included the more traditional charcoal and pencil drawings, as well as mixed media and collage.

At the conclusion of the week a selection of the best drawings were on display at the National Art School, both celebrating the event and the beginning of the year, and allowing students and visitors to see what had been achieved in a relatively short space of time. The subject matter ranged from the smallest detail in a feather, the challenge of perspective implicit in drawing industrial buildings to abstractions that might have been inspired by the movement of water or the contours of the island’s cliff. Drawing Week 2012 showed off the range and diversity of these emerging artists, as well as the broad & diverse nature of drawing that is taught at the National Art School.

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

All images supplied by the writer.
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Thursday, 5 April 2012

The New MCA

To be brutally honest, the new Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is, in a word, spectacular. That is, at least, internally. It's exterior however is an entirely different matter altogether. But on to the positives first. When you first enter the building a grand staircase greets you- the full impact of which is not felt until you are leaving when the glass front affords you a stunning view of the harbour as you descend.

Level 1 contains artwork from the MCA collection, the art store and a very convenient exit out onto George Street. Having two points of access may seem a small point but it's one the old building lacked.Its abundance of glass and unobstructed space makes this new section light and open. Level 2 contains more of the MCA collection, with quite a number of areas specifically dedicated to film. There is also a lecture theatre, seminar room and a library.

Tom Nicholson, Untitled wall drawing, 2009/2012
Nicholas Folland, The door was open... 2006

Edgar Avceneaux, Drawings of Removal, 1999- present

Level 3 currently houses the exhibition Marking Time and this looks set to function as the temporary exhibition space. There is also a Centre for Creative Learning for children but as I am child-less I felt I shouldn't enter. Level 4 has the much anticipated MCA cafe and sculpture terrace. Now, I say much anticipated not because of the food (which I'm sure is lovely, if a bit over- priced) but because of the coveted view of the harbour. It is simply unbelievable. Although I think calling it a 'sculpture terrace' was a bit of a stretch when there is one artwork present. But I do love the signage.
Rivare Neuenschwander, Continente-nuvem/ Continent-Cloud, 2007/2012
Nick Savvas, Showtime, 1999

Asher Bilu, Insights into the ultimate, 1988

Rebecca Baumann, Automated Colour Field, 2011
Essentially the new section of the MCA has enhanced what was already there. The majority of the exhibition space is still housed in the old building with a few new additions such as the learning centre, cafe and theatres taking up residence in the new section. They have done very well not to completely camouflage the original building- in particular the way in which the brick of the old building can be seen as you use the new staircase between floors is fantastic. 

It must have been difficult when planning the new extension to decide on a look and feel. The original art deco building dates back to 1952 when it opened as headquarters for the Maritime Services Board before becoming the Museum of Contemporary art in 1989. The buildings history and character was never going to be able to be replicated so instead it appears as if they have ventured in the entirely opposite direction. While the black and white colour scheme and cubist facade might stand the test of time there is one aspect of the exterior which will not. The way in which the words 'Museum of Contemporary Art' are wrapped around the protruding cube looks terrible. It's unreadable and given that the name is also written on the right of the entry, completely unnecessary. The museum is most commonly referred to by its acronym MCA and this is how they brand themselves across social media platforms and on their website, it would have made more sense to use this identifier here instead of the text which appears as if it is trying just a little too hard to be "contemporary".

Overall though it is an amazing space that arguably gives the GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane) a run for its money, and it's about time.  

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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Magnum Contact Sheets

Dennis Stock, James Dean, 1955

Numerous artists
Magnum Contact Sheets
Stills Gallery: February 29- March 24, 2012

Magnum Contact Sheets takes you behind the scenes of a photo shoot. A hundred shots might be taken to achieve that perfect one and these unused images make up the contact sheet. There is something distinctly personal about these images, as if you are being afforded a snapshot into someones life. You see Marilyn Monroe laughing with her fellow cast on the set of The Misfits, James Dean looking pensively off the frame, deep in thought- these are candid moments that will never make it to print.

The selection process adds another dimension to the works on show. Some images are crossed out, written over or have sections blacked out. Every detail is scrutinised, the image manipulated until the photographer has the exact photograph they are after. Peering intently at these contact sheets it feels somewhat voyeuristic and intrusive- here are images that were never meant to be seen.  

Billy Wilder, Marilyn Monroe, Some Like It Hot, 1950

Peter Marlow, G.B. ENGLAND. Brighton. Conservative Party Conference, 1981, The Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
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Monday, 2 April 2012

ACCA: New 12

Ross Manning

Katie Lee, Ross Manning, Angelica Mesiti, Bennett Miller, Kate Mitchell and Charlie Sofo
NEW 12
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art: March 17- May 20, 2012

Ok, want to say before I make a comment on the NEW 12 exhibition at ACCA that I was unprepared and did not manage to take down any of the artists names or the names of the work. Bad critic, bad. I did some digging and at least managed the artists names... but not the artwork. So this really will be a very un-academic opinion piece, my bad.

The space is amazing and the high ceilings were ideal for Ross Manning's work. Fluorescent lights with fans attached at one end are suspended and turn hypnotically above your head. Reminiscent of a sort of night club ambiance, the faint breeze omitted by the fans is pleasant and adds a tangible quality to the work.

Being familiar with Kate Mitchell's work, it was with pleasant surprise that I was able to see her latest offerings here. In one video we see the artist climbing up the side of a building using plungers and climbing through an open window. Again here we see the artist pushing her limits of endurance and there is an almost fake quality to the work- as if it is a constructed scene in a film, produced for the audiences amusement.

Mitchell's second work explores the language spoken between office buildings through the use of blinds. The blind is raised and lowered in a secret coded language- a language that can be deciphered using the accompanying booklet. This work ensures that no action will go unnoticed. I would have loved to have seen this on a larger scale projection.

Kate Mitchell

Kate Mitchell

Kate Mitchell
Bennett Miller

Katie Lee

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