Friday, 29 March 2013

The Gin Mill Social

Courtesy of Slide

The Gin Mill Social
Slide: March 28, 2013

Last night I went to the opening of The Gin Mill Social at Slide. Taking its inspiration from the 1920's prohibition era, The Gin Mill Social features live music from the Jordan C Thomas band who offer up swing, jazz and some rockabilly as you feast on platters of food and drink gin punch from tea pots. The staff are decked out in their finest with impromptu performances from a chair balancer and a stunning aerial display of acrobatics.  

Aside from the exceptional food, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the evening was the attention to detail. We entered the venue trough the back entrance that took us down a dimly lit corridor complete with security ensuring no 'illegal' alcohol would be smuggled in. A professional photographer circulated throughout the night and the staff were friendly and enthusiastic - something of a rarity these days. 

The band were hopping and it wasn't long before the crowd were on their feet truly embracing a by-gone era. It was refreshing to see old school dancing to classic tunes and the atmosphere was celebratory - even the staff joined the dance floor near the end of the night increasing the revelry.

Slide is increasingly becoming one of my favourite venues and I wouldn't hesitate to attend The Gin Mill Social again. Hopefully this is the beginning of a long tradition of themed evenings for the venue, as those of us tired of the same old scene are delighted to find something new, stylish and above all utterly entertaining.


Courtesy of Slide

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Thursday, 28 March 2013

Anish Kapoor

Anish Kapoor, Sky Mirror

Anish Kapoor
Museum of Contemporary Art: December 20, 2012 - April 1, 2013

Indian - born British artist Anish Kapoor likes things big. Outside the Museum of Contemporary Art is a large, mirrored disk which, on one side reflects the sky, and on the other reflects the ground. Sky Mirror gives you a glimpse of the world above. What strikes you about the work of Kapoor is its scale, mirror installations and ark like structures fill entire rooms and dwarf its occupants. Rumour has it the entire roof of the MCA had to be lifted to install one of the works and George Street was closed off twice.

Anish Kapoor, Sky Mirror
The second thing to note about the exhibition is the substantial amount of reflective surfaces. Rooms full of mirrors are reminiscent of a circus fun house, distorting the viewer and illuminating different perspectives. Highlighting societies preoccupation with appearances, the work speaks to the narcissist in all of us and it is impossible to view the work without the appearances of those around you obstructing your view. The clean lines are beautiful and controlled with the image obscure and unexpected. Kapoor is adept at creating optical illusions and this exhibition is the perfect showcase of this talent. The viewer's concept of spacial awareness is severed and depth of field is confused.
Anish Kapoor, Sky Mirror
There is a distinctly tactile element to Kapoor's work, in particular My Red Homeland begs to be touched. It could be argued that the strength of the artists practice actually lies in his earlier work such as 1000 Names which he completed in 1981. The work reflects Kapoor's early life in India and the influence of colour and its importance. In March the Holi, or Festival of Colours is held where people throw coloured powder and water at each other, this is thought to aid in warding off illness. The coloured pigmentation in 1000 Names appears both fragile yet bold and full of strength.

It is no secret that Kapoor is known for his large scale, often slightly over the top sculptural installation and this recent exhibition at the MCA is no different. It would be easy to become enraptured by the numerous mirrored works and bypass the less overt pieces but this would be a shame. Beautiful things come in unusual packages and in this case, they're brightly coloured.   
Anish Kapoor, My Red Homeland, 2003

Anish Kapoor, My Red Homeland, 2003

Anish Kapoor, My Red Homeland, 2003

Anish Kapoor, S - Curve, 2006

Anish Kapoor, Untitled, 2012

Anish Kapoor, 1000 Names1981

Anish Kapoor, 1000 Names1981

Anish Kapoor, Blood Cinema, 2000

Anish Kapoor, When I am Pregnant, 1992

Anish Kapoor, Memory, 2008

Anish Kapoor, Void1989

Anish Kapoor, Memory2008

Anish Kapoor, S - Curve, 2006

Anish Kapoor, Untitled, 2012

Anish Kapoor, Oracle1990 - 2002

Anish Kapoor, 1000 Names1981

Anish Kapoor, 1000 Names1981

Anish Kapoor, Labratory for a new model of the universe, 2006

Anish Kapoor, Labratory for a new model of the universe2006

Anish Kapoor, Labratory for a new model of the universe2006

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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Alliance Francaise French Film Festival 2013: Renoir

Renoir (2012)
Directed by Gilles Bourdos
Starring Michel Bouquet as Auguste Renoir, Christa Theret as Andrée, Vincent Rottiers as Jean Renoir, Thomas Doret as Coco,Romane Bohringer as Gabrielle Renard

Renoir is based on the last years of the artists life while he was living at Cagnes-sur-Mer during World War I in 1915. Haunted by the loss of his wife and concerned for his two eldest sons Pierre and Jean who were fighting in WWI, the artist is tormented by the mental anguish and physical pain of the arthritis that is crippling him.

Andrée Heuschling is a young, beautiful girl who insists she has been sent to Renoir's house by his late wife to be his model. Apparently it was fellow artist Henri Matisse that actually sent the girl, seeing in her a flawless beauty so apparent in Renoir's work. She is to be his last model and his muse. Their relationship is playful, humourous and a bond grows between them that is beautifully captured in the scene where Andrée insists on performing the task of washing his hands, a task he claims is to ugly for her to do. There is a love there which I choose to interpret as paternal, although Renoir was thought to have had affairs with his models.

When the artists son Jean returns home from the war on convalescence after injuring his leg he falls in love with Andrée, enamored by her wild spirit and big dreams of a life in film. A struggle ensues between father and son for the attention of the young girl, although it feels as if each desire something different from her. While Renoir feels he needs her in order to continue painting, Jean appears to need her in order to continue living. This, however, does not stop him from re-enlisting in the air force as soon as his leg is healed, causing a massive rift between himself and Andrée as well as his father who has no desire to bury a son. By far the most poignant scene is when Jean is saying goodbye to his father who rises from his wheelchair so he can properly embrace his son. Tear threaten the eyes of both and there is a sense that in this moment, perhaps for the first time, the two men understand each other.

Having promised Andrée he would return and they would make movies together, he heads back to the war and this is where the movie ends, somewhat abruptly. We are told at the end that Renoir died in 1919 and that Jean did indeed return and marry Andrée. They went on to make several films together, he directing while she acted under the name of Catherine Hessling. Following their separation in 1930 Jean went on to be a famous director and on the occasion of his death Orson Welles wrote 'Jean Renoir: The Greatest of all Directors'. Andrée's career unfortunately declined after the split and she died alone in poverty the same year as Jean, 1979.

When I first read a description of this film it came across as a story of two men in love with the same woman, fighting over their right to claim her. That's not how I interpreted Renoir. It is the story of a family, torn apart by the grief of loosing a wife and mother, it's the story of the bond between brothers and the alienation of the artistic temperament, it's about a young girl full of dreams for whom reality is a whole war away, a son who struggles to feel closer to his father, a father who struggles to hold on to his son, of two men who love the same girl but in entirely different ways. Most of all, however, it's a story about the final years of, if not a great man, indisputably a great artist.  

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Saturday, 16 March 2013

Swing Time with The Andrews Sisters

Swing Time with The Andrews Sisters
Slide: Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Andrews Sisters were the most popular female vocal group of the first half of the 20th century. Such was Patty, Maxene and LaVerne's popularity that after the war they discovered some of their records had actually been smuggled into Germany after the labels had been changed to read "Hitler's Marching Songs". Swing Time is Maree Cole, Sherry-Anne Hayes and Katie McKee whose harmonies are faultless and transport you back to the 1940's when music was a welcome respite from the harsh reality of WWII.

Presented as a radio broadcast, Swing Time presents all The Andrews Sisters greatest hits, Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Rum and Coca Cola, Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree and I’ll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time, among others, with humour and insight. Between songs the girls present anecdotes of the sisters lives and read fan letters. A particularly touching story was of a concert they were asked to perform for the amputee unit at a hospital during WWII. Adding to the authenticity of the performance was the radio commercials for Campbells Soup and Wrigleys Gum, this also added a nice burst of humour.  

A special note must be made to the band who emerged decked out in army garb and didn't miss a beat. The trumpet player made me start to think that was the element missing from modern music. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face or stop my feet from tapping the entire time. Swing Time is sensational, inspiring, nostalgic, moving and the most entertaining way to spend a Wednesday night. I sincerely hope to see more of these talent women in the future.

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Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Mirror, Mirror Catalogue essay

Last night Mirror, Mirror opened at COFAspace. Below is the catalogue essay I wrote for the exhibition. Show runs until March 22. 

Thrown in the deep end

They say a change is as good as a holiday. For the three artists exhibiting in Mirror, Mirror perhaps this age- old adage holds some truth. Ramesh Nhithyendran, Alexander Poulet and Patrick Cremin had no previous experience in printmaking prior to a three month residency with Throwdown Press, with each expressing a preconceived idea of printmaking as being a traditional, if somewhat overlooked art.

When asked what his opinion of printmaking was prior to the residency, Nithyendran comments ‘I perceived printmaking and etching as something associated with another time (the past)’ and it seems this misconception is not uncommon.  As a result of the residency, the opinions of the artists involved has shifted, with Cremin stating, ‘I now see etching as a tool to expand my individual understanding of the world. I have gained skills that I can not only use to create new works, but also see the medium as incredibly important...’ Nithyendran supports this when he says ‘I have realised the importance of the expressive mark and particularly, the importance of the body when producing the work,’ the artist continues, ‘I was challenged by the seemingly ‘removed’ and precise methodologies that were required to produce an etching...’ Poulet believes ‘the conventions of print media only lend themselves to further experimentation and it is innovation that is at the heart of Throwdown Press.’ 

Throwdown Press was established in 2012 to ‘foster research projects that facilitate a diverse contemporary dialogue and promote the broad methodological potential of printmaking practice’. As part of this initiative, Throwdown invited three artists with diverse practices to take part in a three month residency where they were asked to create etchings using different methods of production. Mirror, Mirror is the result of this three month process.

Installation painter Nhithyendran utilises paint as his primary medium but manages to incorporate drawing into his artistic practice, with the linear mark an important part of the artist’s process. As a result, etching seemed a natural progression of this process and utilised skills the artist had already cultivated. With the printmaking process a somewhat elusive and technical beast for Nhithyendran, the residency confronted the artist with his own limitations and lack of patience. 

Performance artist Poulet told Throwdown’s Co – Founder Ben Rak that ‘Printmaking is a medieval art’ and while his opinions of printmaking may have shifted throughout the residency, Poulet confesses, ‘I am not a printmaker… I don’t have the required patience.’ Similar to Nhithyendran, the artist feels the validity of his own practice was called into question during the three month residency by what has commonly been deemed a traditional and long standing art form.

Photographer Cremin knew little of printmaking and understandably felt the whole process was a foreign idea to him. Dealing extensively in portraiture, the transition from the photographic medium to etching is an interesting one. Certain details that could sometimes be overlooked in a photograph are painstakingly marked out in the etched print. Admitting he had often used his camera as a shield between himself and the outside world, Cremin relished the opportunity to become more hands-on, narrowing the gap between him and the work he was creating. 

Aside from introducing artists to a new medium, the residency at Throwdown fostered relationships and collaboration between artists, an aspect which each has expressed as being a surprising outcome of the program. In particular having the opportunity to work with other artists from different backgrounds and having their feedback enhanced the entire experience and helped them see their work in a new light. Poulet in particular is grateful toward Throwdown founders Rak and Phu for taking the time to create and administer the program and for their enduring patience throughout its duration.

Mirror, Mirror will present the results of each artist’s residency side-by-side with their previous work to identify any similarities or differences between the two. Nhithyendran’s paintings lend themselves to the etching process, with the details of his drawings intensified through his prints. Cremin’s photographs are reflective of this recent work, with the one complimenting the other and both appearing as steps within a larger process. Most interesting is perhaps Poulet’s minimalist prints that are derived from his performance practice. The work is shown next to a video documentation of how the plates were created and as the darkened figure throws rock after rock at the globe resting on the metal printing plate, there is an added sense of expectancy. Poulet’s video creates a three dimensional aspect to the printing process that effectively shifts it from the realm of a forgotten practice and makes it more contemporary. 

At the heart of Mirror, Mirror lies a need to demonstrate that printmaking is not a lost art. It is not painting’s unsightly cousin, twice removed, who you shun at gallery openings to go hang out with video installation. At the end of the day what this three month residency at Throwdown Press proves is that printmaking is as contemporary as those who wield the plate. They took three artists out of their comfort zone and exposed them to ideas they barely knew existed, opening up possibilities they never knew they had, effectively proving that sometimes, change is good.   
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Tuesday, 12 March 2013

'That can be my next tweet...'

That can be my next tweet is a hilarious way to generate 140 characters in a second. The device searches your twitter account and based on previous tweets will generate a new one. The result is a mash - up of previous posts. While I would never legitimately use it, it was fun to piss about with for half an hour. Below are some of the results. A @near_elsewhere mash - up.

Opening on a man. Is my life. a musical One Direction toothbrush. Cause you've got that a stroll &amp!

Kicks off tonight. Overwhelmed by Elizabeth Little Top 5 tips for you? 'So how many!

So what's in the arts good jumble sale. Royal Albert saucer for 50c. Lovely way too much chai tea but!

X2 Ditto.MT are selling limited edition prints for the ''starving artist'' stereotype Latest piece on now?

Ben Quilty's opinion piece for that one of Ryan Gosling on seeing it was literally magical.

Nothing that one direction! prefers the frog. Thanks. That's true... but I never a thick foreign accent.

Ssssshhhhhhh! Tonight, the catalogue essay. Tim Silver's 'Untitled Rory grown up...' at its best.

Bridget Jones's Diary was Kurt! Reviewing the Sunday morning. Thanks $1.

Hows lunch ladies? xxx Review of them is griplodocus!! what's in seeing Shame.

Congrats ! Todd Fuller in about James Franco, the camera. Elizabeth Little Top 5 tips for their upcoming.

Public art? Political statement? Both? Neither? Also opening up to read that socks and Are critics get to?

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