Archive Page 2

14
Nov
12

Day 319: Male Nude in Psychoscape, by James Gleeson

Male Nude in Psychoscape (Variation on the Titan Theme VII), by James Gleeson

Day 319: Male Nude in Psychoscape (Variation on the Titan Theme VII), by James Gleeson

James Gleeson’s series of miniature paintings, mostly not exceeding 6 inches, are believed to have been created during the 1960s and 1970s, when Gleeson worked full-time as an advisor for the future collection of the National Gallery of Australia and as an art critic for a number of leading Australian periodicals. The weekends were the only time Gleeson had left for painting, and his goal was to create artworks that would take him no longer than a single weekend to complete.

Works produced during this time include paintings, works on paper, and mixed media collages. They all feature a prominent male nude or two, at the height of their physical perfection. The paintings are frequently referred to as ‘Frankies’, based on the belief that the male nudes represent Gleeson’s life-long partner, Frank O’Keefe. We shall not dispute these claims, but the comparison between the paintings and collages of the period show that Gleeson also richly drew upon the inspiration provided by fitness magazines of the era that featured the ubiquitous ‘American beefcake.’

The nudes are invariably placed against imagined, phantasmagorical backgrounds, usually referred to as psychoscapes. Their surrealism provides an important link between Gleeson’s early works of the 1940s and 1950s, and his much later grandiloquent large-scale visions of the 1980s and 1990s.

The subject matter of these works featuring prominent male nudes appears confronting to some. This is a pity, as it stops so many from admiring Gleeson’s meticulous painting technique and attention to detail, as well dexterity in managing complex pigments and colour schemes that make surfaces of these miniature paintings sparkle like precious, multi-coloured, richly enamelled jewels.

Variation on the Titan Theme VII James Gleeson (1915-2008) features in Deutscher and Hackett’s forthcoming auction of Important Australian and International Art (lot 61, est AUD $4,000-6,000), taking place in Melbourne on November 28.

http://www.deutscherandhackett.com/

http://www.deutscherandhackett.com/auctions/catalogues/123456905

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

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13
Nov
12

Day 318: Untitled, from Beneath the Roses, by Gregory Crewdson

gregory-crewdson-untitled-kent-street-beneath-the-roses-2007

Day 318: Untitled, from Beneath the Roses, by Gregory Crewdson

This is my second post on Gregory Crewdson’s photography, whose exhibition at the CCP has left such an indelible impression on me. His Beneath the Roses series has a second strain that, unlike the previous interior mise-en-scènes, concentrates on the exterior of the middle-class suburbia.

Once again we are presented with an alternate, dystopian vision. We are witnessing an aftermath of an apocalyptic nightmare that left a lot of people destitute and wandering around the deserted streets with their meagre belongings in a nonchalant, almost zombie-like state.

But not everyone seems to have been affected equally by whatever ills may have befallen the community. The same street that has houses reduced to rubble, or that are windowless, boarded up, with huge gaping gashes in the walls and roofs, at times with fiery infernos raging on the inside, has other dwellings that are perfectly preserved, with green manicured lawns and elegant flower beds.

As usual, no clues are given by Crewdson as to what may have been the cause of this catastrophe that had so selectively affected these small communities. We are left to join the dots with the power of our own imagination…

One cannot go past Crewdson’s photographs without commenting upon the sheer excellence of his management of the photographic medium. These works are of truly vast size, but despite the physical dimensions and the amount of visual information they contain, each detail appears in an incredibly sharp focus.

There is no doubt that careful choreography, lengthy stage setting processes, costly equipment, large lenses, and perhaps a certain amount of digital enhancement and manipulation would have gone into the creation of each image, but the narrative power and the psychological depth of each of the resulting works serves to justify again and again the relevance of photography as an art form, for within these images, the artist creates the proverbial “paintings with light”.

http://www.ccp.org.au/

http://www.gagosian.com/artists/gregory-crewdson

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

12
Nov
12

Day 317: Untitled, from Beneath the Roses, by Gregory Crewdson

gregory-crewdson-untitled-the-father-beneath-the-roses-2007

Day 317: Untitled, from Beneath the Roses, by Gregory Crewdson

Untitled (2007) is among the most striking, challenging, and psychologically complex works from Crewdson’s Beneath the Roses series. At first glance, there is nothing amiss about the old man sitting in his lounge room, lit by the glare of the TV set on which his stare is transfixed. The apartment is worse for wear, but so is the old chap. The closet door opens up to reveal smart jackets and travelling suitcases suggesting that in the past he may have been a travelling businessman or a well-to-do man. But the bottles of pills and ointments on the trestle-table tell us that this is all in the past, and today he is but a sickly old man who hardly bothers putting clothes on, let along emerging from the cosy comfort of his shabby apartment.

Bright light picks out a reasonably well-appointed kitchen in the background. A simple meal of pasta and vegetables is being prepared by a lady in humble clothes and sensible flat shoes; her hair gathered in a tight bun. At first the woman appears as a ubiquitous maid, the luxury of the suburban middle-classes. But when the eye pans to the right, towards the dining table, one notices dinner setting for two. An unsettling thought occurs – as always in Crewdson’s pictures: are we indeed looking at an old man who requires constant care, but who has good heart and therefore insists that his maid dines with him. Or is there a more menacing undertone in this narrative: is this his daughter, who has become a voluntary slave to her father’s ailments? Or is his purple bathrobe carelessly thrown over the near-naked body that still suggests virility points towards much darker undertones to the relationship between the two?

Gregory Crewdson’s Untitled, from Beneath the Roses series, was included in the photographer’s solo exhibition, In a Lonely Place, at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne.

http://www.ccp.org.au/

http://www.gagosian.com/artists/gregory-crewdson

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

11
Nov
12

Day 316: Portrait of Cate Blanchett, by David Rosetzky

David Rosetzky Cate Blanchett 1

 

David Rosetzky Cate Blanchett 2

 

David Rosetzky Cate Blanchett 3

Day 316: Portrait of Cate Blanchett, by David Rosetzky

David Rosetzky challenges the notion of portraiture and extends the possibilities of the genre in the new digital age.

His HD video Portrait of Cate Blanchett moves beyond being a static, two-dimensional image that we usually associate with the genre, and instead captures the actress’s movements, gestures, and voice.

The portrait appears as an inner monologue where Blanchett, in a voiceover, considers her approach to acting and choosing roles. She moves around the stage as if predominantly unaware of our gaze, at times pausing in silent contemplation, or breaking into a seemingly impromptu dance routine. The eye contact with her audience is rare. As the result we become the voyeur, the spectator, and the confessor.

David Rosetzky’s Portrait of Cate Blanchett is on view in the exhibition Ourselves, at the ACCA, until November 25.

http://davidrosetzky.com/http://davidrosetzky.com/work/portrait-of-cate/

http://www.accaonline.org.au/

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

10
Nov
12

Day 315: The Russian Project, by Laresa Kosloff

Laresa Kosloff Russian Project

Day 315: The Russian Project, by Laresa Kosloff

At first glance, Laresa Kosloff’s Chita Monument (2012) appears as a large-scale static photographic image rather than a continuous video. Everything is absolutely still in front of the imposing monument in the centre of an empty civic square. The low angle at which it is shot heightens the feeling of the pathos and significance of this unmistakeable Soviet-era monument, displaying all the vestiges of the Social-Realist art movement favoured by the former Communist regime. The bleakness of the square over which the monument reigns supreme, and the dreary ordinariness of the brutalist-style apartment blocks in the background make the image look so stereotypically “Soviet-era” as if was taken twenty, thirty, or forty years ago.

However, after a while, a girl walks past it; then another; then a mother carrying a child, all dressed in contemporary fashion, in denim, high heels, or sporting fashionable shoulder bags and sun glasses. Their Western-style attire seems almost dystopian against the background sculpture and architecture.

It is in this way that Kosloff carefully weighs into the controversial subject of cultural relevance. While the essence of the monument, which commemorates soldiers and civilians of the City of Chita who died during the Civil War, is as valuable as even the most humble cenotaph in rural Australia, the bombastic Communist propaganda which imbues and overwhelms the statue seems to invalidate its commemorative message. In the former times, a monument like this would have been adorned with fresh flowers and surrounded with beribboned wreaths. Today, those walking past the monument hardly give it a second glance.

http://www.laresakosloff.com/

http://www.vca.unimelb.edu.au/gallery

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

09
Nov
12

Day 314: Hélène Glorifiée, by Gustave Moreau

gustave-moreau-helene-glorifee

Day 314: Hélène Glorifiée, by Gustave Moreau

The image of the femme fatale, who brought death and destruction to mankind, is central to the oeuvre of Gustave Moreau (1826-1898). Helen of Troy, in whose name the famous war was fought, features in a number of his works.

The iconographic source for this watercolour is more obscure, and comes from Goethe’s Faust: “Faust, commanded by Mephisto to bring him the archetype of beauty, summons the spirit of Helen from Hades. Falling himself in love with Helen, Faust fathers her winged child Euphorion, who charms all with his beauty and gift for music before dying young and calling his mother back with him to Hades. She is represented in the present work surrounded and glorified by her eternal admirers, the warrior on the left, the poet and king on the right, and her son at her feet.” [Source: http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/drawings-watercolors/gustave-moreau-helene-glorifiee-5620299-details.aspx].

This work is distinguished by the high degree of finish as well as the use of mixed media (watercolour pigments with gouache and gold). The resulting effect is one of a rich and textured surface usually reserved for Moreau’s oil paintings that resemble pavé-set gem stones rather than an ordinary painted canvas. The richness of its colours (considering the age of this work) is a testament of an extreme care taken to preserve the original beauty of the fragile watercolour and gouache pigments by its various owners throughout the illustrious and dramatic history of this piece.

The exquisite watercolour by Gustave Moreau is among the highlights of Christie’s forthcoming 19th Century European Art sale in London, on 21 November 2012 (lot 14, est £300,000 – £500,000).

http://www.christies.com/

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

08
Nov
12

Day 313: Falling Towards the Sky, by Becc Orszag

Becc Orszag Falling Towards the Sky 2012

Day 313: Falling Towards the Sky, by Becc Orszag

Becc Orszag’s large-scale charcoal drawing, Falling Towards the Sky (2012) was a stand-out work at the recent NotFair, a satellite exhibition of the Melbourne Art Fair 2012. It was a pleasure seeing it again at Dianne Tanzer Gallery, accompanied by a small display of other drawings by this undoubtedly gifted and highly imaginative artist.

Orszag’s athletic figure twirls in an ambiguous space, and involuntarily calls to mind Ring Gymnast I (1911) by the Swedish artist Eugene Jansson (1862-1915) in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria [http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/col/work/4081], who is similarly engaged in a seemingly impossible acrobatic mid-air feat.

Nude but for small pair of briefs, his rippling musculature, flailing arms, and inward-pointing toes relate the acrobat’s total concentration on the correct execution of his perilous routine. The strategic placement of his figure almost three quarters up from the lower margin of the drawing imparts the feeling of weightlessness and of the speed of his breathtaking ascent. The ghost-like rocky outcrops in the background of the drawing simultaneously remind the viewer of the increasingly perilous distance from the ground of this gravity-defying latter-day wingless Icarus.

http://diannetanzergallery.net.au/Becc-Orszag

http://beccorszag.blogspot.com.au/

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]




Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

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