Melbourne Exhibition Visits 10th November 2012
Negotiating this World: Contemporary Art at Ian Potter Centre
I have to say that I am finding that a lot of contemporary art just leaves me cold. I can’t really relate to it and emotionally can not find a connection. Technically, sometimes I may find something interesting but more often than not I find myself thinking “how the hell did anyone manage to get this into a gallery?” or worse, “what a piece of crap”. This is no doubt going to cause a few raised eyebrows or tut tuts but really, am I supposed to give my honest opinions here or not?
OK I will try for some positive comments. I likes Sally Smart’s “Exquisite Pirate” not only interesting but a clever use of used materials and very creative, even though I didn’t see any of the “deep and meaningful” as depicted in the accompanying text. The use of colour was clever in “I’m Not Sorry” even though as usual, the whole premiss of the sorry business with ex prime minister Howard to me is misunderstood through lack of understanding of litigation law colours and again retells a misleading story. Anyway, I am going off topic a bit again. Vernon Ahkee’s self portrait I think I liked the most. It was done with mostly line work and was very expressive. The face had heaps of character and I loved looking at all the mark making. In black and white and only using pencil lifework is like going back to basics but gave room for the image to gain a life of it’s own.
Peter Graham’s painting “When the Desert Blooms” was beautiful. I loved the soft colours and the intricate patterns that flowed around the painting. It was the type of work I could sit and appreciate for quite a while.
Janet Lawrence’s “Botanical Residues” were architectural patterns on clear panes of overlapping perspex. I liked the new forms created by the light going through the forms and panels and the creative use of the materials.
Arrested Decay, Bill Hay and Stilled Life, Cathy Drummond: 45 Downstairs
Bill had 66 pieces on display and was very clever is his use of materials making them all the same size. It the room he had, this made for an interesting uniform and “tidy” look not taking away from the creativity he had put into each piece.
As you looked around the room the artworks looked like they were set into about six or seven themes with about six to ten works for each. Bill gave a fun and interesting chat about his process which we all enjoyed very much. He very much likes to react to what happens with the materials and follow a creative path from the initial application of things like a puddle of paint on the paper. It leaves the resultant very expressive and sometimes a little strange view of Bill’s imagination and world.
Cathy has a great eye for perspective. Her themes of buildings and interiors are very well thought out and have a huge amount of detail. She works very hard on her paintings and the colours and depth are very striking. Her work is not really realism as they are not truly tonal, but the textures and use of colour perspective make works that you feel you could walk into. Cathy also gave an interesting chat about how she approaches her work and exhibiting.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: 14th-15thC prints at the NGV, St Kilda Road
Nothing like a person talking about the book of Revelation that obviously doesn’t know what’s in it. That was my first introduction at the NGV. Um what were the colours of the other two horses of the four horsemen… Oh give me a break I thought, then blurted out PALE AND WHITE! I made a hasty retreat before I started correcting the rest of her talk to the increasingly frightened Asian crowd, who I think will now never convert to Christianity. Hell and damnation will do that to some. OK drifting off again.
Durer and Goya were the main reasons for the visit for me. Both masters of their craft, it was a joy to see their intricate etchings and wood cuts. Although the subjects were of stories from one of the most misunderstood and possibly scariest books of the Bible, in many there is beauty if you look for it, and in all there is the masterful use of the materials. For those interested in aquatint, etching and wood cuts, you can’t go past these guys. An additional thing for me at this exhibition were the beautifully preserved books and illustrations in them.
I have read enough of Revelation to know that it all works out in the end. The bad guy gets punished, the good are rewarded and the universe and the world are renewed. For me it is a story of warnings, what could happen if humans keep fighting and misusing the planet we have been give to live on, if we learn, we can avoid the whole thing, if not, we may have hope anyway in a saviour. The artworks only reflect how at some point in time people struggled to make some sense of this book and what it meant and how it was used by some as one means in many to control the population.
I spent a lot of the day in the company of some very special students that I have the pleasure of having coffee with most mornings. Sue and I made a day of it having lunch with a drop of wine and doing a lot of chatting. The train trip was very enjoyable in both directions even with the deter onto busses for a bit of the return trip because of a death on the tracks. I refused to let anything take away from the pleasure of the company and having a day out to explore art that wasn’t too icky or confronting. We even called into a few other galleries on our walk from one event to another to peek at some different styles which was also great fun. My thanks to my partners in crime today for putting up with me chattering away and sneaking off with me to the hatters under Flinders Street Station for that Fedora that I have wanted for years!