Sunday, April 28, 2013

Miso at MiCK - 28 April

So it turns out Miso is not Japanese.  Miso is the 'street name' of Stanislava Pinchuk who according to her great little website was born in 1988 in the Ukraine and now lives and works in Melbourne.  Her solo show 'Everywhere I have ever been' is on at MiCK until 5 May so get along and see these pricks.

That's right these images are pin pricks on paper. A really neat and clever method which is akin to drawing for me (and I might be so bold as to steal the technique and try it on at the easter show!).  Being pin pricks on white paper, in a white gallery gave the whole affair a very minimalist feel.  You had to really get up close to see the detail and depending on your viewing height the image was either very pale or clear (the angles affected the shadows of the pin pricks).  These works have as their basis the city grids from each of the cities Stanislava has been to recently, Paris, Sydney, LA, New York, Sheffield (? maybe's she's a Sheffield Wednesday fan!), Kiev, Tokyo etc. The works ranged from $1400 for a smaller (40 x 29cm) work, through $2,500 for the mid sized (78 x 58 cm) ones through to $5,000 for the large moons (150 x 110cm).  I really liked the works (no surprise as I love maps) and would've happily taken one home although the Feds aren't the only ones with budget pressures at the moment! I will just have to wait until Art Collector magazine lets me do some fictional shopping through the stock rooms to pick one up.

Points.  3 points will have to go to a moon.  Given I lived there for a number of years I will take 'Moon (New York)' (pictured top).  You can't really see it well but Miso does the moon and then the details on the moon are bits of the NYC street grid.  You can see Soho etc.  2 points will go to the 'Arrows (Sheffield)' and 1 point for the Bee (Vienna).  To see more images go here.  Miso has even got a purpose built website just for this show.  Great work there.

Special Moves at MOP - 28 April

I love the education in emerging artists that MOP provides.  I also love their Sunday opening hours so I snuck in here for a quick squiz sans junior critics who after a busy morning were happy to watch dvds at home (although I was instructed to take photos of any rainbow artworks if they had them).  I thought I had read some press that described this show as a survey of drawing but the catalogue essay sets me straight - "this exhibition must not be mistaken for a survey of broader drawing" rather drawing "acts as loose connective tissue between [the artists in the show] and their work".

Sadly for my daughter there were no rainbows.  And I probably wasn't going to take a photo of Leah Emery's cross stitched porno scenes for her.  I am not sure that tapestry counts as drawing in the literal sense but I know the Dobell used to allow it so I am down with the 'drawing with thread' / 'mark making' angle.  I am familiar with Leah's work from Sullivan & Strumpf and again she has some small scale scenes on show.  I would love to see these get a bit bigger (I actually think the repro in the MOP catalogue is bigger than the real work) although I appreciate that cross-stitch takes some time.  Maybe some studio assistants are required?  More traditional drawing came from Jonathan McBurnie who had about 8 large scenes of quite intricate craziness.  Lots of body builders, super heroes and the odd topless women.  All good there.  He is also the man behind the essay in the catalogue.  I am not sure I really agree with his take on drawing as a resistance to the digital status quo (and from what I could gather he was saying was that if it isn't realistic looking then it can be a drawing, even if it is actually a painting).  Christian Flynn had a few colourful acrylics on canvas.  As paintings they were great, I liked the colourful Unification Theory II the best (above).  As drawings?  My advice would be to not enter them in the Easter Show, they take things a bit more literally.  Also interesting was Miles Hall's take on colour swatches, Splice (top) was my favourite of these paint on aluminium works.  It also leant itself to the cover of MOP's quite detailed catalogue for the show.  If you want to learn more about abstraction and see the words "mimetic realism" used in a sentence then grab this and flip to page 14/15 for more!  This show runs until 5 May.

Points:  I will give 3 points to Jonathan's Grief Beard (above).  Not just because it was a drawing but it also had cameo appearances of the Phantom, Rupert the Bear and no less than 3 topless women.  Someone agrees with me as it has sold.  2 points will go to Christian Flynn for Unification Theory and 1 point will go to Miles for his Splice.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Workout at MCA - 23/26 April

So if you hadn't had your fill of performance art with 13 rooms the MCA was here to help.  They had scheduled a week of performance art and called it a workout.  I looked at the schedule and made it my business to check out the Motel Sisters and loving that so much came back to see what Agatha Gothe-Snape had in store for the punters.  

First up was the Motel Sisters on Tuesday.  This is an art collective comprising two hot babes (Liam Benson and Naomi Oliver) who have sadly let themselves go and in a yoko ono / john lennon inspired sleep in are being slacktivists for the day (see photo top).  That is eating pizza and liking good causes on social media.  I liked the concept as did many punters who were lining up to get a photo with them in bed.  

My next visit was on the Friday for Agatha Gothe-Snape.  Sadly for me when I visited nothing was actually happening.  I was informed that her performance work was a play and it was currently 'Act III - Intermission' also known as 'The Space Rests (2013)'.  Okay.  Was the MCA getting a little ahead of itself here?  Perhaps questioning whether performance art, without the actual performers, could still be called performance art?  My answer is no.  The performers in question were out on an extended lunch break, about an hour and a half by my calculation given the next act wasn't due to commence until 2.30pm.  The sad thing is the MCA website says this is on from 10am - 5pm so punters like me on their own lunch breaks come in to the gallery with the not unreasonable expectation to see performance art (and its not like this is the first time this has happened, Anastasia Klose did the same thing at Primavera).  Maybe next time we could be a little more precise on the webpage and let the art lovers know exactly when the art is on?  I did like their screenshows that were holding the fort (above, with some random punter blocking the view, but I liked that about the projection) however even these stopped during the space resting until someone came in asking "is everything on still?".  No. 

Points - the Motel Sisters have to scoop the pool here as they were the only ones making busy with the performance art on my visits.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

2013 Gallipoli Art Prize - 24 April

Anzac Day is on 25 April which means it is time for one of my favourite Art Prizes, the $20,000 acquisitive Gallipoli Art Prize.  This is run by the Gallipoli Memorial Club and it couldn't be any more low-key if they tried. I was there at lunchtime on the opening day (Wednesday) and was the first punter in to see it.  That said, at least they had a girl behind the bar this year as last year it was even quieter.  Please get in to see this before 5 May, if not for the art then just for the random building and club that one day sooner or later will be extensively renovated.

I think I actually agreed with the judges this year.  Peter Wegner's 'Dog with Gas Mask' (top) won the prize and could be my favourite.  It definitely dominated the main room.  Most of these works have overt military themes although there are a few artists who try to sneak a regular work of theirs into the show.  Leo Robba's 'Remembrance' was a great big painting of an immaculately kept hedge and whilst I could appreciate the painting I thought it was a little too subtle for the brief.  There was quite a bit of trench art, and Bill Nix has a good example of this.  I really liked one of the smaller works, David Pavich's Waverly Memorial (above). This was also a complete bargain at $800 and if it was Paddington instead of Waverley might've come home with me.  Peter Gardiner (a previous BL 3 point winner) had a great entry 'Light Horse' which reminded me of his Dobell entry a few years ago.  Stephen Nothling, who collected BL's 3 points in the Gallipoli Prize in 2011, is back with another nice entry this year, a mixed media piece called 'There is sunshine' (below) that rocked some nice medals and ribbons.  And I am a sucker for ribbons.  Also good to see current Archibald and Wynne prize finalist James Powditch bag the triple by being a finalist here as well.  His work here is a little random, but nice and visual.  And big, gee everything is getting supersized these days.  He had the portrait of Ben Quilty in the Archibald.  Speaking of Ben Quilty, I wish he had entered one of his Afghanistan war artist works here.  Would be a good look.

Points:  I am going to double down on Peter's Dog with Gas Mask, 3 points.  This was great work, and really stands out in the field.  2 points to David Pavich's Memorial and 1 point to Stephen Nothling.  Highly Commended to the Gallipoli Memorial Club for putting this on.  I had a great great uncle land at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and he, like many others, never came back.  Lest we forget.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

13 Rooms - 20 April

Kaldor Art Projects is back with their 27th project.  This one is called 13 Rooms, and you guessed it, there are nearly 13 rooms of performance art squeezed into Pier 2/3 down in Millers Point.

The 1st room is a bit of a cheat.  Tino Sehgal has instructed the greeters to say something nonsensical after they hand you a catalogue.  I think I got something about Putin in Finland.  Suitably confused I got right around and checked everything out.  I came on the first day and brought the family back on the 2nd last day (that's right, get there on Sunday or you miss out).  This has definitely been discovered by the crowds and on Saturday as well as the line to get in there were lines for Hirst's room, the Swap room and Marina Abromivic's room.  I enjoyed getting around sans crowd on the first Thursday, but it is fun taking some junior critics to performance art as they ask the honest questions.  Even half of Clark Beaumont (I think it was Beaumont) cracked at smile at the repeated "why are those girls hugging up there" line of questioning from my 2 year old. No sweetheart you don't get it, performance art asks questions, it doesn't give answers!  The 'why's' kept coming, especially in the Joan Jonas room for mirror check.  Why didn't that girl have her clothes on?  Another good question indeed.  Some of the works have a rotating cast of performers doing the art.  I am not sure I am allowed to say it but I preferred Mirror Check with the more attractive artist.  But perhaps I wasn't getting the deeper meaning.  I don't think the identity mattered so much in other works, for instance in Simon Fujiwara's 'Future / Perfect' where a non-English speaking man lies in a tanning bed and recites random English phrases.  We liked the dancers making like a revolving door and especially 'In the blink of an eye' where Xu Chen has installed someone just above the ground in what looks like the act of falling (pictured top).  I really didn't get Santiago Serra's room where he had war veterans facing the corner. Not. Much. Doing.  All in all there were more hits than misses for me which is a pretty good outing for performance art.

Points:  I think I will give the 3 points to the Hirst twins.  I saw 2 different sets, a pair of sisters and a pair of brothers and both interacted well with the viewers coming to see them.  I am also partial to the odd dot painting here and there.  2 points to 'In the Blink of an eye', this was straight up clever.  I will give 1 point to the Swap Room as it was nice and interactive.  I wonder what Roman Ondak would swap me for a point?  I'd want something pretty good!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hayden Fowler studio visit - 18 April

It's lucky I love snooping about artist studios as I had to schlep out to Marrickville for this one.  Not that I have anything against schlepping out to Marrickville its just that I would prefer if the MCA could've put this on a Saturday at about 2pm so we could nip off to Henson Park at 3pm for a Jets game!

I'd recently been exposed to Hayden Fowler's work courtesy of a trip to artereal.  Hayden is an NZ artist who is now based in Sydney.  And I like him even more now that I have discovered he also has a decent website (once again, every artist should).  He has what I would consider the stereotypical artist pad.  A little vintage, a little grunge and lots of older decorative kitsch artworks adorned the main space but I don't think anything could've prepared me for the studio area.  Here Hayden has built a creepy forest complete with chickens!  That's right folks these birds were right at home in the artist studio.  This big set is from his video work that he recently featured at artereal.  On first view it looked like it was filmed outside to me.  This set is quite a detailed piece of work (views above, on left with the chickens and on right you can see the rest of the studio, behind are concrete antlers).  As well as Hayden talking about his practice we had an assistant curator from the MCA give their 10 cents worth as well.  As an aside Hayden has 2 videos in their permanent collection, nice work.  It was a great discussion and Hayden didn't let the curator off the hook either after an earlier comment about finding his work "challenging".  How so?  Exactly.  I read it as a quasi dig as well but the curator recovered admirably.  Thats why they get paid the big bucks to chatter all knowingly about the arts kids!  It is hard to describe his work, it does deal with a kind of pastoral idyll but from a modern perspective where nature is on the back foot.  In a way his use of rare birds and images of extinct animals was kind of a memento mori for this viewer.  I was really interested to learn more about his fascination with animals, in particular birds.  Given I have a random collection of Gould League of Bird Lovers ephemera I think I have a new artist to put on my watch list.  Kindred spirits?  I was particularly drawn to the story of the Huia bird.  The feather of this bird was reserved for maori chiefs but one was given to the Duke of York (later King George V) which set off a European fashion for the feathers and voila the bird is extinct.  Tragic.  Hayden memorialised the bird in a performance where he got a tat of a pair of these birds (image below).  Apparently he is thinking about using birds in his next body of work as well.  I can't wait.

Points:  Traditionally the 3 points go to the artist on a studio visit and this is no different.  A great night, and really interesting to learn more about Hayden's evolving practice.  I am also fascinated by how many contemporary artists either have or are studying for PhD's.  Someone do some stats.  I will give two points for the tattoo of the huia birds.  Top stuff.  1 point must be shared by the roosting chickens which for the most part were quite well behaved.  Although I did see one take a crap on the set.  Lucky he is junking this shortly (although it does seem like a shame to tear all that work up).  That is the downside with working with animals.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Ben Quilty / After Afghanistan at the National Art School - 13 April

Well this exhibition has certainly cemented Ben Quilty's place at the top of the art heap.  Ben is back from spending time as the official Australian war artist in Afghanistan and the War Memorial is touring this around the country starting in Darlinghurst.  What you would usually think of as a solid exhibit in a kind of an out of the way gallery was the hottest ticket in town.  I swung by here on opening night and it was more than standing room only.  It was a line up to play sardines.  I had a quick squiz that opening night and then (appropriately) did a General Macarthur and declared I would return.

So here we are on the last day of the show and there are still masses of people here.  This show must've set some kind of attendance record for NAS.  I had the whole crew here for the hit of culture.  The junior critics aren't yet appreciative of signature styles, dismissing Quilty's heaving canvasses thick with oil paint primarily for the crime of "using too much paint" or worse, "he is wasting some paint here".  The big kids (i.e. the Mrs and I) really enjoyed the portraits of servicemen, displaying the emotions you'd suspect to be post traumatic stress.  I thought it was especially important to see them en masse.  As a room they seem more than the sum of the parts.  I think this is the only time you will see them all together as reading the labels it appeared a few are the property of the war memorial pursuant to the war artist gig and some others were done at a later stage and so remain Ben's.  Quite a few of the portraits are of the Special Forces so Ben doesn't give the full name.  Just Private S or Sergeant K.  My top pick was one of these quasi anonymous works, I think it is Sergeant K (pictured top).  I also really enjoyed the mess of paint that was Kandahar (above).  I understand this was painted when he first got back so it is just a tangle of emotions and colours without being anything in particular.  It kind of looks like a future weapon from a Transformer movie.

Points:  3 to Sergeant K.  2 to Kandahar and 1 to the daubed Afghanistan landscape (above).  Here Ben has taken a found painting of the Blue Mountains and superimposed Afganistan.  This one to me suggests the British trekking off back in the 1800s.  I would like one of those!  Also great work to the War Memorial for continuing this great tradition.  I will have to look into this war artist thing a bit more.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes - 6 April

Here we are again at the AGNSW for something that I think is quite peculiar to the Australian art scene - the annual art prize blockbuster exhibition.  I am sure the AGNSW publishes the stats for the punters that walk through the door.  My tip for bringing the junior critics - get there early. We were there with the 3 kids at 9.55 just waiting for the doors to open and were right in line behind this years big winner Del Kathryn and her family who were trying to keep a low profile and also beat the crowds.

First up is always the Archibald.  The team at Big Lamington hearts Michael Lindeman's work and this years finalist for the portrait prize is no exception (top - Dear Trustees (self portrait)).  Lots of text, funny, makes you think.  Glad they put it in such a prominent position too.  Everyone has to notice this work - although apparently the centre room is key to winning.  After reading this letter to the trustee's in full I actually really enjoyed turning around and watching the reaction of the other early bird punters.  This was getting lots of good press and is my dark horse for people's choice (I did give it my 2 votes as well - doesn't everyone vote twice?). I did like the winner.  Del's works are very rich in colour and imagery. My wife adores them although at this rate the waiting list must be getting longer and longer with her 2nd win. I didn't think much of the Vincent Fantauzzo work next to it.  I read a great review of this show in maybe the Australian newspaper where the writer was taking to task artists that are obviously painting from photos and this work is exhibit A in that regard.  I did quite like McLean Edward's entry although one review I read said it failed in capturing the sitters likeness.  Oh dear.

Next was the Wynne.  Imants Tillers certainly seems like the boy who can do no wrong in the trustee's eyes - going back to back here with his Namatjira.  I liked Fiona Lowry's work although in my mind it was very similar to her landscape entry which made last years salon de refuses.  My wife would've given the wynne to her favourite sculptor - Alex Seton - who was unlucky not to win with his great hoodie wearing marble piece called Soloist.  By recent form a sculpture was due to win this year, maybe 2014 is a lock.  I really liked Noel McKenna's centennial park (above).  I like the naive style and the information heavy nature of the work.  I also quite like centennial park!

On to the Sulman where some names keep popping up - Paul Ryan (a Big Lamington points winner last year) was again a standout for his Fine Young Cannibal, and again also for his artist statement which was one of the best of the day. I like a nice memento mori so Craig Waddell's Hungry Hollow (above) was one of my top picks here. I also liked Annette Bezor's entry of 3 portraits of Kate Moss although I thought just the middle one with the veils of colour would've sufficed.  I noticed Fiona Lowry's work which gives her a finalist in each prize and must surely warrant a ribbon or somesuch from the AGNSW, hopefully something is forthcoming - top effort that.  Good to see Michael Lindeman's 2nd finalist of the day and I also liked Kate Bergin's flamingo from wonderland (as did my better half).  All things considered I think Victoria Reichelt's After Books a pretty worthy winner.  

Points - 3 to Michael Lindeman for his archibald effort.  Hey if the Trustee's can keep giving the Wynne to Imants then I can certainly keep giving the best on ground to Michael! I will give 2 points to Noel McKenna who is postively swimming in Big Lamington points after the recent MCA show.  1 point will go to Craig Waddell for the Phantom's Skull Cave, sorry Hungry Hollow.  See you again next year!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mark Whalen at Chalk Horse - 5 April

I do like going to Chalk Horse.  I love that a loading dock can be an effective gallery space.  Their latest show, Maze Walkers by Mark Whalen just opened and is on until 20 July.  And if you are only in the market for a browse then get along as all bar one thing has been sold.  Solid effort that.

I'd never heard of Mark but checking online shows he is also better known as street artist Kill Pixie.  I still can't say if I have heard of him but back in the day used to get into that whole lowbrow juxtapoz magazine scene (this was when I was in grad school in the US).  I also recognise his LA gallery, Merry Karnowsky, from the same influences.  Despite being from Sydney it looks like he has shown mainly in Melbourne and BrisVegas.  Indeed Chalk Horse is putting on this show with a mob called BlackArtProjects.  I didn't really pick up any street references in these works.  They are all detailed illustrations and paintings on board and then coated with resin.  Kind of like Sam Leach in scale and finish but with more detailed futuristic scenes and much much more geometry.  I was lucky to actually be at Chalk Horse as Mark explained his work to another punter and it was fascinating to eaves drop on the technical aspects of it - turns out to be works on paper that are then mounted and resin coated.  I am a sucker for the shiny finish and liked a lot of what I saw.  I didn't really understand the whole meaning of the amorphous futuristic characters but I found the little worlds that were constructed in each work fascinating.  I also loved how he references his own work from the show in different pieces.  That is getting quite common and I realise its one of the things I like about Tony Albert's work as well.  My favourites were probably The Baller Room (60 x 45cm top), Self Portrait - Isolated Swimming through my subconscious, and some of the circular works like Plant Collectors and Into the Mind (32cm diameter, above).  These were all reasonably priced, starting at $2k for the smaller circle works up to $11k for a larger 4 panel work.  Mark also has some ceramics in this show and it is an interesting little collection of pieces although for me the paintings were the stars.  If you can't get there in person you can also browse the catalogue at home here.

Points:  3 to the Baller Room, 2 to Into the Mind and 1 to the Self Portrait.   Also Highly Commended for the broad web presence of this artist - here's Mark's site.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Anish at the MCA - 1 April

So I had a free ticket to the Anish Kapoor show at the MCA and I'd left it to the last minute to use it.  Was this some implicit criticism from my subconscious?  Let's see what all the fuss was about ...

First thing you see dominating the front lawn is his Sky Mirror and inside on the ground floor is this massive kinetic wax sculpture My Red Homeland.  Is bigger better?  I read a great article about the death of the gallery show by Jerry Saltz the other day (that article here) and there was a great quote in it from dealer Gavin Brown.  Take it away Gav:  "When we are able to fly around the globe in 24 hours, and that is a common occurrence … these large-scale works might be an unconscious attempt to rediscover awe." Okay, so I buy that, these works can be awe inspiring.  I was probably more awed by the big red wax thing than the Sky Mirror and then I realised it was because I had seen the shiny one before.  Kapoor's Sky Mirror was in front of the Rockefeller Centre in 2006 when I was living in New York.  And I recall being mightily impressed by it back then.  So there are only really 2 reasons why I wasn't feeling the awe this time around, either the MCA is not as impressive a backdrop as the Rock Centre ... maybe, or (more likely) the novelty had worn off and it was just a big mirror.  Up on the third floor were some of the smaller works.  My top pick was the circular mirror that had about a thousand different shards making it up (above).  I didn't write down its name as I had picked up the free catalogue but the MCA had cunningly not included half the works in this so I feel like I should make up a name.  I am inspired by a twitter post that referred to the Kapoor show as "Decade of Selfies" in reference to all the punters taking photos of themselves in the works.  I like it, and it is probably better than the official title.  Anish, your welcome.  There was another behemoth up here too, called Memory, which looked like a rusty submarine (or given it is owned by the Germans a u-boat!).  On one side you see the external scale and from the other end of the gallery you only see the inside.  When I read the blurb I realised this was a neat little trick - "the artist challenges us to imagine the entire object by piecing together our memory of the artwork from different locations".  There were some more mirrors up here, more of the fun house variety than the awe inspiring variety and the piles of pigment sculptures he does that I don't really get.  There were some neat 'trick' works like sandstone with apparent holes in it and a work that appears flat that goes into the wall.

Points:  I will give 3 to the Decade of Selfies mirror.  2 points to my red homeland (what were they doing with the wax? shipping it back?  could've made some coin in the gift shop with some sweet candles!).  1 point will go to Oracle.  Overall I am glad that the MCA does get some international big names out but so far the leader in the Big Lamington clubhouse is Christian Marclay - bring back the clock!