Looking back, moving forward

There’s no sugar-coating it. My creative work was overtaken by other priorities for a good part of this year. There is now some time and energy, but where to begin? Perhaps it doesn’t matter. Beginning, one action then another. Repeat.

But I don’t want to lose sight of things that have happened, have been seen and done. A light touch, with a little more detail where part-written posts captured some thought behind…

Victorian watercolours
https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/victorian-watercolours/
One of the old court galleries at the AGNSW has been redecorated in Victorian style, including dark red walls, double swag curtains and antique seating (too fragile for actual use). The pictures are a mixture, Some rather saccharine and bland, many enjoyable.
I appreciated the hanging of two in particular, either side of a draped archway, both similar and contrasting in theme and staging. Publio de Tommasi’s cardinal shows sly satisfaction, anticipating triumph in the game of chess. Two other men debate the news of the day in a work by Charles Robertson. A world away, or sharing a love of rich tapestries and good conversation?

Victorian Watercolours exhibiton


Publio de Tommasi
The game of chess (detail)
1882


Charles Robertson
Bazaar gossip (detail)
c1886

Passion and Procession: art of the Philippines
https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/passion-and-procession/
An enormous canvas at the entry to this exhibition initially intimidated me. So much happening, so much war and death. Rodel Tapaya combines multiple mythologies, a mix of symbols, to present views of a recent violent event. My companion and I took our time, examined the detail, made connections and discoveries, and ultimately I felt rewarded by the effort. This is a country and history I don’t know, but have since felt drawn to learn about.

Inside the exhibition it was surprising to find many works of a human, domestic, scale and theme – although on reflection I think that surprise was misplaced – Tapaya’s work was full of humanity and the personal price of conflict.

Rodel Tapaya
Do you have a rooster, Pedro?


Norberto Roldan
Detail of domestic altars series. 2005


Marina Cruz
Blush fibres and bed sores

A long weekend in Melbourne in July was packed with interest.

Greater Together
https://acca.melbourne/exhibition/greater-together/

ACCA (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art) is an exciting venue and the exhibition was full of ideas and risk-taking – and somewhat hit and miss.
Letters to the Land (2017) by Bik Van der Pol (Liesbeth Bik and Jos Vaqn der Pol) was the biggest hit for me. A large space filled with voice and colour.

Bik Van Der Pol
Letters to the land

Van Gogh and the Seasons
https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/exhibition/van-gogh-and-the-seasons/

A blockbuster at the NGV. It was always going to be crowded. Long queues to get in (hurrah for pre-booked tickets and reciprocal memberships, so walked right past), great gatherings around the later, more familiar works. But it was a happy and generally considerate crowd, people enjoying themselves, looking at art and talking about it. Most also moved through quite quickly, so with a bit of patience you could spend some quality time with whatever caught your interest.

Van Gogh_
A Wheatfield, with cypresses
1889


The exhibition was also cleverly hung – lots of Japanese prints in the hallways leading in, giving context and getting eyes in tune, then paintings arranged by season rather than chronologically so the works that many viewers gravitated towards were spaced throughout the gallery, generally with a little extra room around them. So clusters formed, parts spun away and reformed, children wriggled through – I can imagine a beautiful film taken from high above, using a thermographic camera for glowing colours of massed heat, like watching a colony of tiny organic forms under a microscope. My husband suggested an Esther Williams movie, much less formal but with explosions of movement and sprays of water at key points.

What caught my interest?
The movement and weight of a field-worker.

Van Gogh
Reaper (1885)


Thick wedges of colour and line in tree trunks.

Van Gogh
Tree trunks in the grass (1890)


Full of detail and flickering colour, a path to follow but for the moment lost in the depths of the bark. It was fascinating to see the man returning to ideas, to seasons, throughout his short career. On a less sublime note, I found myself seeing the detail of the world around me with clearer eyes, the lines of colour and depth in my teabag glistening…

Blocks of colour piled up, strong shapes and line.

Van Gogh
View of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (1888)

NGV
On another day we roamed through the NGV, more or less at random.

Ross Coulter
Audience

In the Festival of Photography I saw a solitary viewer fascinated by Ross Coulter’s Audience – photographic documentation of audiences of performances that may or may not have been taking place. Another large gallery was dark, luminous, with works by Bill Henson.

Turning a corner I was excited to see Spatial Concept by Lucio Fontana.

Lucio Fontana
Spatial Concept

Last year I did quite a bit of reading about Fontana’s work and ideas (12-Jun-2016), and returned to his ideas of infinite dimension numerous times in my exploration of the grid. To see an example of the pierced canvas, to experience the ruptured sacred surface, the glimpse of the worlds beyond, had more impact – a visceral impact – than I would have expected.

Creating the Contemporary Chair was an unexpected delight.
Tracey Deep’s She Chair was an exuberant transformation of a classic. (see 29-Sep-2016 for other works by Deep.)

Tracey Deep
She Chair

Shadowy armchair, designed by Tord Boontje and manufactured by Moroso was an extravagance, something that would have suited the cat in a hat, handwoven in plastic threads. The chair was one of a series designed in collaboration with traditional craftspeople of Senegal and Mali, and the same plastic threads are used in fishing nets. I loved the clever weave, the beautifully resolved edges.

Tord Boontje (designer)
Moroso (manufacturer)
Shadowy armchair


There were many more beautiful, fascinating and just plain weird chairs. And there is still more catching up to be done. But this post has been building over a few days and is long enough. And in tandem I have started making again. It feels good.

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