The New Classical at Art Gallery of South Australia

gallery_sa_01Leaving the Turner exhibition (see post 4-May-2013) we walked out of the Art Gallery of South Australia through the Melrose Wing of European Art. This was on the recommendation of a lady we chatted with while sharing a table at lunch in the busy Art Gallery café. The work she thought was a must-see on our visit was Berlinde De Bruyckere’s We Are All Flesh (2011-12), epoxy, iron, horse skin, steel. I can understand why this work has got all the press (see links at the end), but the entire wing is just so exciting. I’ve since learnt that the wing was opened in January 2013, refurbished and completely re-hung. To quote Director Nick Mitzevich in the press release “Boundaries of geography and time have been collapsed to inspire a new way of looking at the rich diversity of the Gallery’s collections. Objects from different periods and cultures are juxtaposed to reveal how art links the past to the present” (1).

I didn’t know that at the time we were there, just that we started at the back of the gallery very tired after five hours spent with Turner, and as we passed from room to room we got more and more interested and energetic. It was still a fleeting visit, a little time with one or two items in each room.
gallery_sa_02This is the work that stopped me in my tracks. The Bowmore Artemis c. 180 AD, Italy, carved marble. The information sign provided “… the huntress Diana pursuing wild animals, her tunic billowing as she runs… It is modelled on an earlier sculpture from the Hellenistic period… The naturalistic detail of multiple textured folds of drapery, in which the female form is accentuated, reveals an ideal of perfection that has influenced art through the ages.”
gallery_sa_03This of course relates to one of the major concepts in my current Part of the OCA course – Ancient Greece and the canon (although here not necessarily restricted to Western art). This also clearly (although I wasn’t consciously thinking of it at the time) relates to my post on 28-April-2013, about the canon evolving and merging different histories and cultures. You can see glimpses of other works shown in combination, but the one that really caught my attention can be seen in the distance here, facing Artemis with confidence and pride.
gallery_sa_04Buck with cigar by Marc Quinn (2009), bronze. From the sign, this is a “life-cast sculpture of a female who underwent various sex change treatments”. Here is poise, confidence, a challenge to classical ideals of perfection, and in my eyes at least, beauty.
gallery_sa_05The reverse view (the wall at the back is mirrored). There was a lot more to be seen in this room – which had as its theme “The New Classical” – but my attention was totally caught by the conversation between these two figures. I think I looked at each a little differently because of that relationship.
gallery_sa_06That’s all the actual content I have for this post, but I couldn’t resist a closeup of that wonderful swirling textile. I wonder what colours it would have been originally. It looks wonderful in cream, but I decided to play a little…gallery_sa_07

(1) Mitzevich, N. (2013) quoted in Art Gallery of South Australia (2013) Art Gallery unveils sumptuous new Melrose Wing of European Art [online] 10 January 2013. Available from http://www.artgallery.sa.gov.au/agsa/home/Media/docs/Current_media_releases/Melrose_Wing_MR_FINAL.pdf [Accessed 4 May 2013]

More information
Adams, J. (2013) Art Gallery of South Australia hung like a horse. Arts Hub [online] 4 April 2013 Available from http://au.artshub.com/au/news-article/news/visual-arts/art-gallery-of-south-australia-hung-like-a-horse-194889 [Accessed 4 May 2013]
McDonald, J. (2013) Succès de Scandale in Adelaidehttp://johnmcdonald.net.au/2013/succes-de-scandale-in-adelaide/ [Accessed 4 May 2013]

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