Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tony Albert open studio - 2 June

This has probably been the biggest art highlight of my last month, despite only getting around to posting it now.  I have been a big fan of Tony Albert's work from afar but this was a great chance to actually meet up with the artist and get to have a good sticky beak into how he puts his work together.

I can't remember exactly how I found out about this, I think through facebook or even twitter courtesy of some propaganda from his Sydney gallery, SSFA.  See, getting an iPhone can improve your life!  It was a pretty miserable time weather wise back then for Sydney so it was on a wet Saturday afternoon that I ventured out with one of my junior critics in tow to the artspace bunker in Woolloomooloo.  Tony was just finishing a six month stay at the space up on level 4 or something like that.  I didn't realise they had multiple studio spaces, it was quite the rabbit warren up there.

First impressions.  The walls were chock a block full of different pieces and some of it was just in piles.   There was a lot to digest.  Tony uses a lot of recognisable iconography so I was hoping that my 3 year old would appreciate the disney references whilst I could look through the room at leisure.  Wrong, he had scoped the place pretty quickly and was ready to leave in about 5 minutes.  Time for iPhone improves your life part 2.  With my three year old happily sitting in a corner playing a variety of games I was able to continue the tour and even have a quick chat to Tony.

Second impressions.  Whilst there were a few decently sized collages he was working on (see images above) I was pleasantly surprised to see such a huge volume of smaller work.  There were hundreds of A4 sized works.  Apparently he is putting together 100s for a book project where you need 108 or some specific number that I can't exactly recall.  Regardless, I was gladdened to see so many great pieces that would (a) fit on a lot of my walls and (b) hopefully be reasonably accessible price wise.  It was also really interesting to see the pile of ephemera that he has collected to use in collages.  Lots of vintage aboriginalia, I think I need to hit ebay and help him out.  Continuing on my flag theme from a couple of posts ago I can confirm that Tony would be at the top of the list to commission a flag from.  The works are packed with iconography and the very strong colour palette of red, black and yellow from the aboriginal flag is used frequently.  The only issue is that I doubt he has the time due to all the museums that he is producing large works for.  Given his growing profile I was surprised how few people had turned up.  The guy on the front desk said about a dozen when I was leaving.  But then again, I am sure I miss plenty of events through sheer ignorance.

All the points today to Tony (best on ground).  I will keep an eye out for some of these studio works to be exhibited in the future, I think 4A in Haymarket has a couple of the bigger collages on show now (which is on my itinerary to visit).  We also picked up a great little poster as a souvenir and Tony even signed it for my junior collector.  Hopefully that will encourage him to 'be deadly'.  

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