Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Artexpress at AGNSW - 26 February

So I feel old coming to Artexpress.  Mainly because I am visiting during my lunch break and there are school groups everywhere.  This is always an interesting show and it too has now moved up to the top floor room where the last Dobell was.  This is on until 14 April so you've got plenty of time to swing by, oh and it is free so put that tenner back in your pocket.

So what did I like?  Well I had forgotten my favourite thing about this show from last year and it was that all the student artists (well not all but most) list their artistic influences on the wall tag.  There were quite a few Salvador Dali's, Picasso, and even a Leonardo Da Vinci!  I think the cool kids rocked the no influences.  One of those cool kids was Francesca Fox.  Her work Vadallat (or wild animal, above) was  some hand masks based on her family's heritage which she then photographed.  I would've listed her influences as Polixeni Papapetrou.  Other favourites were Lochie Howard who had a suburban cardboard diorama (top, one of the scenes from 'love the home you're in').  I immediately thought Howard Arkley when I saw this and YES! he has him listed as a reference, go me.  He also had the Strutt Sisters listed and hey I had heard of them too, and knew they were from Newcastle and then picked the Seven Seas which is a real art deco pub in Carrington.  So maybe my Hunter Valley bias is showing a little bit but I was buying what Lachie was selling here - celebrating the good times, kitschy as they may be.  I suspected Milli Wheeler had Banksy as an influence and was not to be disappointed here, two nice collages.  My other favourite was a sculptural still like done in a flat pack cut out way (days of our still lives kit, below).  This was by Ella Sanderson who had listed all of 5 influences.  I do like a good vanitas (Hirst or the Phantom, I really don't care) and would've happily had this on a shelf in my pool room (although they are getting quite crowded).

Points:  3 to Lochlan Howard; 2 to Francesca Fox and 1 to Ella.  Hope you all keep up the art no matter what course of study you pursue.

Friday, February 22, 2013

TABOO at MCA - 16 February

It's too late for TABOO, it closed last weekend.  I actually saw this pre Chrissie and came back for a young ambassador curatorial viewing the other day.  So now I really have no excuse for the lack of insight that will follow ...

Firstly, this was 'guest curated' by Brook Andrew (he of the patterns and bright neon).  One of his most noticeable contributions are the coloured walls that are in this gallery.  Breaking a taboo here?  Maybe, and I liked them, let's see if they stay. Apart from that this show was quite random in my eye, artists from all over the world with the theme of taboo linking all the work (sometimes more tenuously than others). I love Eric Bridgeman's work so was keen to see Yal Ton but this was in the random camp. I didn't really get this trippy video but apparently it is all secret mens business (at least mens business whilst on drugs) and the taboo is letting women see it.  Damn it, so it isn't even a taboo for me. Okay next up was Bindi Cole who had done what looked like a funny bedroom (detail above). It tells the story of how Jesus saved her when she was in the Big House in the UK for a some heroin related crime and this is actually a replica of her prison cell.  Wow, this I obviously didn't know about Bindi so it is very shocking to be revealing these facts but again, maybe this is just me but I am not all that shocked by this.  Sure it is bad, but if you do your time and change your life anything can happen, I know a very senior public servant who can say the same thing.  My two favourites were Anton Kannemayer and Leah Gordon.  White South African artist Anton has some lots of confronting pieces in this show that all expose racial issues.  His style is all Tintin in the Congo and aesthetically I liked them as I did use to love Tintin as a boy. The most amazing thing for me was that the MCA curator didn't realise the whites played rugby and the blacks played soccer, I could've given chapter and verse on this but instead will just link to an amazing article in the FT on it instead. I found it really interesting that he was a white artist dealing with race so forthrightly when in Australia there is a view that a white artist should refrain from that.  Leah Gordon's caste photos (example of Marmelouque, below) were another that dealt with race in a matter of fact way from victorian times, highlighting how there was once a classification from black all the way through different fractions of black (ie mulatto, marabou, sacatre - which is french as the work uses Haitian people, the US south had similar terms octaroon etc) to white. The work reprises poses from some classical european art and I thought it was very graphical whilst at the same time being thought provoking.  All in all great show Brook - please do this again sometime. 

Points:  I never thought I'd give 3 points to a springbok but 3 to Anton.  2 points to Leah and 1 to Bindi

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Quilty at NAS - 21 February

Gee - this opening was bigger than the Prince concert.  Punters absolutely everywhere.  I didn't really get the chance to get a great skinny at the works due to the crowd and me needing to get home for dinner!  This show is on until 13 April and the whole crew is coming back to breathe this all in so more of a write up and points then.

Also coming up, a review of TABOO ...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

TextaQueen and Kate Shaw at Sullivan+Strumpf - 16 February

Loving the trend for Saturday afternoon openings in Zetland.  It is just a little easier to get to than Thursday 6-8pm.  This weekend was Kate Shaw and the famous TextaQueen at Sullivan + Strumpf.  Given that TextaQueen (no more Arlene, and it appears the Q is now capped, as in PricewaterhouseCoopers - gee they were ahead of the game those folks) is well known to the family it was pretty easy to convince one of my junior critics to tag along ...

Which meant it was upstairs at once to check out Texta's latest show 'Unknown Artist'.  Gee hasn't TextaQueen's style become more refined?  The way she has drawn the hair in 'Sacred Heart' (pictured above) seems a lot more styled than previous self-portraits.  There were some really pretty works here, and most of them are fully clothed (in fact the nudity is nearly absent which contrasts with the more raunchy work at her last show). This was a complete sell out before opening so a great result for all involved.  I did get a look see at one of the works pre opening but sadly my budget is still GFC restrained so I wasn't able to add another Texta to the Big Lamington collection (we are still very happy with our textanude that adorns the wall in the 2 and 3 year old critics room).  These are all pretty much the same size (130 x 100cm) and the same price $4,500 and I would've liked a couple.  Indeed a few museums did exactly that, with my sources suggesting the NGV and GOMA picked up the lions share of the 8 works on offer.  My 5 year old was a bit concerned that Texta wasn't wearing her superhero costume.  Maybe it was in the wash? That said, she wasn't in mufti and instead came dressed in the colourful lycra suit from the 'Grown / Flown / Unknown' self portrait.  Sadly no fortunes like last time but there were some postcards! Yay, I love a good souvenir so points here.  My junior critic picked up the postcard versions of 'Save Yourself' and 'Grown / Flown / Unknown' (which has a rainbow feather motif that seems irresistible to a 5 year old girl).  

Downstairs was Kate Shaw's lovely acrylic and resin on board landscapes.  For those that came in late these are essentially painted collages where Kate pours out the paint on paper to make some trippy patterns, cuts them up and them makes those shapes into landscapes.  The Mrs and I are very into Kate's signature style and I keep saying one day but these prices continue to climb (or the sizes keep getting bigger, that is why you file room sheets!).  Mainly Kate does mountains and water with the odd tree here and there but this time I noticed a cave theme, with drippy stalactites featuring on two of the works (Nightingale and Meridian).  I much prefer the mountains to the trees and the brighter the better so Gongshi (pictured below) which was all pinks was the combined favourite here.  In a interesting twist Kate has given bracketed titles to most of the works that reference atomic tests (e.g. Maralinga, Monte Bello, Muroroa etc). I like where she is going here but I don't get why she didn't go all out and actually recreate one of those big mushroom cloud explosions in her style (there is a great photo here of a test at Maralinga with these random grid like smoke columns behind the explosion, probably my favourite nuclear image if you can have one!).  Also interesting is the image that was chosen for the litho.  I think it is great to make an entry level work available (this is sub $1k, by $10 for an edition of 15) but I do think you miss out on the resin and the real pop of colour.  Personally I would settle for an A4 version of Lop Nor.

Points:  3 for 'Sacred Heart' by TextaQueen.  I am actually convinced that Texta is turning into our felt tip version of Frida Kahlo.  I do want to get one of her self portraits!  2 for 'Colonised Desire', what can I say, I like the muppets! 1 point for Kate's Gongshi. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Various Artists, Artspace - 15 February

With the rain clearing I thought I could put some culture on to the Friday lunchtime menu.  After a quick walk to Woolloomoloo I soon had some art as the first course.  Artspace have three shows on now until 3 March, History is Made at Night by Daniel Boyd; You Gotta Love It by Pat Hoffie; and Wellington by Mathieu Gallois.  That sounds a lot but you can easily squeeze this into a lunch break, and more importantly still have time for a hot dog de wheels at Harry's.

How is one to choose which of the self contained shows to look at first? My rule is ask the guy at the counter, he has been living with the works for a few weeks now and suggested Pat Hoffie.  Both he and the artist were right.  I did love it.  Pat's project considers Australian identity, but by mixing the bogan bumper sticker message with the craft of Balinese woodworking.  As the room notes say, "in this more elaborately laboured form they are rendered into artefacts that warrant closer scrutiny, as objects embodying some of the inherent complexities of cultural exchange."  They are also damn clever and still very funny.  My top picks were probably 'Fuck off, We're Full' (top, there was also another version of this with frogs but I prefer the coat of arms influences), 'Toughen Up Princess' (above), and 'Women Love Me, Fish Fear Me' (check my twitter for this one). That said pretty much all of them were great, although I think there were a few typos either accidental or on purpose to keep you guessing and really accentuate the cultural distance. Next up was Daniel Boyd, mainly because I really like his old stuff (pirate capt cooks and the like).  This new body of work continues his exploration of dot painting but also adds a big video work.  I'll be frank, this I just did not get.  Apparently this "draws upon recent philosophical and scientific advancements relating to the existence of dark matter".  Perhaps.  It is a very trippy piece, all colours flowing in and out and music.  It was relaxing but I do worry that the artists intentions are not well translated if a random punter could look at a video work for over 10 minutes and conclude the viewing of the piece would be made infinitely more sensible by being on drugs.  Last up was Mathieu.  Again you will need to read the room sheet here if you are not to wonder why there is a random Judy Cassab portrait mixed in with all the aboriginal historial stuff (it is of his grandfather, who owned the Wellington Times, that makes a lot more sense now).  I really liked this body of work, but it was definitely 'museumy' type work.  And by that I mean the kind of strident non-commercialism that you see at all the biennales.  In fact, I am sure I have seen piles of newspapers at the MCA quite recently.  The blacked out text of the Wellington Times (example below) worked well as it highlighted just the stories on aboriginals.  It was very interesting to read these stories from the 1950s in the present day.  The world certainly has changed a lot from our grandfathers time.

Points:  easy 3 here for Pat Hoffie.  I would really like one of these souvenirs - Pat get a website!  2 for Mathieu Gallois who had a very thoughtful body of work.  1 point for Daniel Boyd, please bring back the pirates!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Online exhibitions?

So I was scrolling through tweeter the other day.  Yes you should too.  You could do worse than follow @BigLamington, and I would also recommend following Michael Reid as he has some pretty interesting posts.  A post from Iain Dawson took my eye, linking to an interesting story which said art fairs are causing fewer gallery shows.  Iain took it further and suggested it is going to be all art fairs and online shows.  It was a good read.  Then, as if to predict the future and then make it happen right on cue Iain announces an online exhibition!  Certainly makes it easier to schlep the kids to.  Well yes and no, because instead of my kids getting force fed some culture at a random gallery around Sydney I am having a browse on the computer whilst the kids apply their critical theory to the Disney Channel (at the moment I think Doc McStuffins would bag their 3 points).  

So Twenty Thirteen it is.  Iain has assembled eight 'important' emerging artists.  Some familiar names in my book, Liam Benson and Lucas Grogan and some other interesting work by Seth Birchall, Minka Gillian and Tim Roodenrys.  I love Liam Benson's photographs and his 'The Flag' (pictured above) is another one mixing patriotism and gender.  Tim Roodenrys' Prayer Flags looked interesting, and at 115 x 113cm might be pretty impressive but it is hard to tell online.  I will keep an eye out for Seth Birchall as well, his oil on board stereo view of Sidney Nolan caught my eye.  After a bit of research brought to you by google it looks like this was from his Man Crush show at the Liverpool St Gallery.  Lucas Grogan has one of his trademark blue works included.  There was a pretty big brouhaha about his work last year - with two artists from the Big Lamington collection quitting their galleries as they represented him.  Lucas borrows aboriginal imagery and some artists don't think he is entitled to do so.  It is a pretty controversial topic and far too much for me to cover here.  

Points:  3 for Liam Benson's flag.  Love his work and hope to get another some day.  2 for Seth's Sidney Nolan and 1 for Iain for having a crack at the online caper.  In a way it is really a call to arms for Big Lamington to do likewise.  That said I do think the experience suffers a lot, will we just get used to it?  I have bought a few things based just on a digital image, including a half finished Ryan Presley, but I do prefer the seeing things in the flesh.  And you miss out on the opportunity to have a bit of banter with the gallerist, which in the case of Iain himself is a shame as he is always great for a bit of a gossip! 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Happy new year at SSFA - 2 February

Happy new year art lovers!  Like a lot of galleries around town the team at Big Lamington took a well deserved break over the new years period and are only just getting back into the swing of things.  First up for 2013 was a visit to Sullivan & Strumpf's group show with all 3 of the junior critics in tow on a very wet Saturday ...

This exhibition is rather cleverly called 'Sullivan+Strumpf 2013' but as in most group shows is a nice assemblage of the stock room for their featured artists who are on the calendar for the year.  Most of the works are 2012 but there is one from 2004 and even one from 1974!  I liked gallery newcomer Arie Hellendoorn's works (pictured top, 'Fever') who has an anatomical / cartoonish style which kind of reminds me of one of the kids apps on the iphone (Toca Doctor if anyone has an under 5, it is very good).  I was pleased to recognise this artist as loyal readers may recognise that name from our time in New Zealand, in fact Arie won the 3 points from Big Lamington back in August 2011.  Also appealing are Sam Leach's works, my favourite here was not the ones in the official show but 'Flight and Display' which is also available upstairs.  These are fantastic and were I to hit powerball would definitely add to the collection but they are a little too much opportunity cost (in terms of what else you could buy).  By that rule I would also never get an Alex Seton but my wife likes these and she is much more willing to save up for a single work so never say never.  Speaking of work well out of my price range I did like eX de Medici's large scale watercolour but much preferred Penny Byrne's ceramic wall instal (photo below) called 'Syria Souvenirs'.  I really liked the way they looked grouped en masse on the wall, the kids didn't mind either, my 2 year old declaring her favourite was 'the one with the peoples who had blood on them'.  The other junior critics liked the more colourful works.  So Gregory Hodge's Electric and Alasdair Macintyre's Happy Trooper (above), which both feature rainbow colours, battled it out for their votes.  Gregory got the vote of my 5 year old.  Enough of them, how did I score this ...

Points:  3 to Penny Byrne.  This looks really good as an installation, and fair enough it was $22k! I need to find a hook to glue on the back of my gitmo souvenir! 2 points for Arie's fever and 1 point Sam Leach.