Thursday, December 30, 2010

James Turrell at the National Gallery - 30 December

I have been looking forward to checking out this installation for quite a while.  James Turrell is an enigmatic American artist I had read about a couple of years ago when I was living in the US (really good NY times article here).  He has been working on turning a huge crater in Arizona into a vast piece of art.  He takes commissions around the world to finance work on the crater which has been going for 30+ years.  This was his first work in Australia and seeing as how we were spending Christmas in the Southern Highlands it was only going to be another 90 minutes down the Hume to the National Gallery.

Well I wasn't to be disappointed here.  This is an amazing piece of work and must be seen to be truly appreciated.  Turrell is famous for his 'skyspaces' which are basically big rooms with a hole in the roof.  His one in Canberra is called
"Within without" and is located inside a big earthen pyramid on the site of the old carpark.  You go down a path inside the pyramid and see this big stone stupa inside, this is where the viewing room is.  It would be great to be here at dawn or dusk but we enjoyed our visit in the early afternoon. 

A great way to end the year art wise.  Points - 3 for Turrell, if I had the cash (and the space) I would want a skyspace.  2 for the NGA - thumbs up for commissioning this new work.  1 point to my little art critics who were reasonably well behaved on our visit (and didn't splash in the reflecting pool too much!)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dobell Prize - 6 December

We checked out this years Dobell Prize for Drawing at the Art Gallery of NSW during the week. Calling itself the most respected award for drawing in Australia (maybe it is, I can't think of another) but deliberately not defining what constitutes a drawing in the conditions of entry leads me to think the Dobell trustees are trying to manufacture controversy. I thought the only controversy this year was that the winner, Suzanne Archer's Derangement, wasn't very good. Did have some colour in there with the use of the pastels and it was easily one of the bigger works but probably wouldn't have taken the chockies if yours truly was the sole judge (yes only one judge here, Alun Leach-Jones the responsible party this year).

On one hand there were some excellent examples of pencil draughtmanship, Catherine O'Donnell's #19 being one example of finely detailed work of an apartment building facade. But on the other there were some entries I think I could have easily dashed off a copy of, Katherine Hattam's ink and liquid paper Snakes and Ladders comes to mind. Fiona Fenech's triptych of thread and collage and pen didn't meet my definition of drawing but around the corner from this I did like Betty Bray's ink Kimberley Rockface.

My own pick for the 2010 Dobell was Gino Palmieri's Untitled Drawing #13. This was a large geometric piece with pencil lines done with a ruler sitting on top of a charcoal background. The silver of the lead pencil worked well over the charcoal and had the AGNSW not had a no photos rule (or put images up on its website, sold postcards or not had attendants all around) would have been pictured above (instead we have the actual winner).

Points on the day were 3 to Gino, 2 to Catherine O'Donnell for some actual drawing and 1 to Betty.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

National Art School grad exhibition - 4 December

We like checking out emerging artists at big lamington and they don't get more emerging than the graduate exhibition at the National Art School. It is on in the galleries there until 14 December but the first weekend had the studio spaces open as well. The 3 year old art critic and I went along on a sunny Saturday afternoon to check out the offerings ...

I was really impressed by some of the work the students had on show, and was also a little surprised to see that quite a lot of it was for sale. But that's commercialism and HECS for you I guess. We didn't make any purchases but I did make a serious enquiry on behalf of the junior collector. She was quite taken by one of Zoe Walford's images. Hers were all pop style collage / painting on board. One of them included a very striking purple pony which naturally caught the eye of someone who herself collects this theme in depth. Zoe's other images of a Japanese nurse probably weren't suitable for a childs bedroom so on we went.

Another little thing I noticed were the number of awards handed out to the graduating class. The first time I saw it I thought to myself, oh congratulations, X has won the prize. But by the time I saw the 5th or 6th marker advertise this I was a little less impressed. It was lucky I saw ceramicist [bear with me while we try and locate our notes and get the artists name!] early and was impressed by her prize winning work. She had a couple of pieces in the main gallery and we saw more of her work, including a nifty little video, in the studio.

The Big Lamington prize, if awarded this year, would have gone to Angus Fisher (don't worry readers, he had won another prize) whose bird print of a north american turkey could have gone straight to my pool room (or more appropriately, library). The Little Lamington prize, again if awarded, would have gone to Stephanie Gallagher for her work endless space (pictured).

The committee awarded the points this week, 3 for Stephanie (the "tents" as they were referred to left a lasting impression), 2 for Angus and 1 for Zoe.