Posts Tagged ‘ACCA


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.

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


Monika Behrens @ Gallerysmith

Monika Behrens - Shock n AwesomeSaturday, 18 June 2011

Monika Behrens @ Gallerysmith

Monika Behrens’s exhibition at the Gallerysmith in North Melbourne is dominated by a huge quadriptych, Shock ‘ n ‘ Awesome. Composed of four large canvasses, it depicts in an allegorical language the Allied invasion of Iraq. A multitude of plastic toy soldiers of every shape and model, accompanied by military toy machinery, surround or make beeline towards rose buds, which are strewn across the canvases in bouquets or individually. The allegory of the composition becomes clear in an instance. Toy soldiers personify invading forces; their different colours represent various nations that willingly danced to America’s political tune. As for the rose-buds, rose is an actual symbol of Iraq. What an unexpected, simple and powerful metaphor it represents! How aptly it is used by Behrens in these paintings! Simultaneously representing rose as a nation, and a rose as a symbol of fragility, we are witnessing and anticipating these flowers to be literally and allegorically crushed under the innumerable armies of the attacking soldiers. The metaphorical association of roses as symbols of femininity, and the inherently vulvic arrangement of their petals also foretell of the atrocities the native population would endure during the invasion.

Monika Behrens RippleThese paintings draw an immediate parallel with the art of John Brack, whose ‘pencil’ paintings recreate various famous battles and military campaigns, especially those of the Napoleonic wars, and where different colours of pencils similarly represent vari-coloured uniforms of warring nations. However, Brack’s paintings were not inspired by various military skirmishes in which Australia participated under the spell of American hegemony throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Behrens’s paintings, on the other hand, which directly engage with such current and litigious events, are as topical as they are courageous, and perhaps the most direct comment on the international military involvement in the Middle East we have seen in this country’s galleries since the largely overlooked and misread installation by Jenny Holzer at the ACCA earlier last year.

On the opposite wall of the exhibition space, Behrens displays a suite of six or so paintings, which depict upturned wine and champagne glasses with toy soldiers and military machines within them. They continue the theme of the exhibition and also raise a multitude of similar semantic connotations, such as the physical fragility of the soldiers as well as the all-too-real possibility of the mutual annihilation of the warring nations: think of what would happen to the two Koreas should a conflict erupt on that peninsula. It reminds me of an obvious dictum about ‘people who live in glass houses’, or, as it has been eloquently summed up in a recent TV show, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”

Monika Behrens Precarious RevoltHowever, one cannot talk about these paintings without discussing their incredible painterly merits. As evident from these photographs – and infinitely more so when you view them in the flesh – these works are a masterful tour-de-force by this young and undoubtedly talented artist. The hyper-realistic tromp l’oeil of these paintings is astounding; the brushwork is barely visible on their smooth painted surfaces. The translucent quality of glass is rendered most meritoriously, reminding me of the excellent crystal vase paintings by Arthur Streeton. The effectiveness of these paintings is increased by their limited colour palette, effectively contrasting the fragile glass vessels against predominantly black or dark-blue backgrounds. My favourite work in the exhibition is undoubtedly Precarious Revolt, where complex swirls and folds of a red scarf burst forth from the overall sombre gamut of the picture, and are expertly contrasted against the strategically introduced model of a green tank.

It is such a pleasure to see an exhibition by an artist who so obviously can paint, and who is not lazy with her brushwork, modelling and colour application, which, bizarrely, is almost a rarity nowadays… Furthermore, it is highly commendable for an Australian artist to acknowledge the existence of the world beyond the confines of a studio environment and engage so bravely and openly with highly contentious and divisive contemporary issues.  //

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2011. This article is copyright, but full or partial use is welcome with full and proper acknowledgement.]


New11 @ ACCA, Melbourne

ACCA NEW11 002 - Shane HasemanWednesday, 16 March 2011

New11 @ ACCA, Melbourne

There’s an old Russian saying: everything new is well-forgotten old. This thought pulsated through my mind as I was walking through a recently opened exhibition at the ACCA. There was so much borrowing, so much recycling of old ideas, that I began questioning whether the exhibition’s title, New 11, was actually warranted.

It’s a worrying trend, especially since the artists that are profiled at these annual exhibitions are supposedly our youngest, brightest, and the most promising, guaranteed to become the favoured staple of contemporary art curators and collectors for at least the next five years. However, with one or two exceptions, there’s hardly a truly original idea among them. We have already seen so much of this earlier, beforehand, in other galleries, in other museums, in other artists’ spaces, that one begins to wonder whether there is an assumption that everyone suffers from some sort of a cultural amnesia, and that no one else, apart from curators and exhibiting artists, is supposed to know what happened in the history of art, whether in Australia or internationally, prior to entering the exhibition space.

ACCA NEW11 005 - Brendan van Hek

For, indeed, once you leave all your prior acquired knowledge at the gallery’s threshold, you would actually end up experiencing an entertaining and enjoyable exhibition – as I had done in the end.

The visitor is met at the entrance to the ACCA – and once again at the entrance to the exhibition space – but Tim Coster’s Umbrella, a sound installation of amplified street noises. You then proceed into Shane Haseman’s installation Lanterne Rouge, with brightly-coloured walls and a bicycle suspended on brightly-coloured MDF shards. From this bright cacophony you emerge into a contrastingly understated, cool, white, minimal space with an installation by Brendan van Hek, The Person who cried a million tears, with three oval mirrors, five glass panels with circular cut outs, and variously sized mirror balls spray-painted uniform white, the only light source in the room being a Dan Flavin-style neon tubes.

ACCA NEW11 007 - Justene WilliamsThe next room is filled with Justene Williams’ She came over singing…, an eleven channel video installation. Once the eyes get used to the fast-moving, pulsating, and brightly-coloured visions that surround the viewer from all four sides of the room, you slowly begin to distinguish in the videos two completely masked figures, dressed head to toe in closely resembling outfits, one in a suit of newspaper and magazine clippings, another in a similar suit of brightly-coloured geometric designs; both are almost lost within interiors that completely match their outfits, wrecking havoc within their respective environments. It is only then that the menacing retinal and aural onslaught gives way to a harmless, humorous, and entertaining voyeurism.

ACCA NEW11 010 - Greatest HitsThe next room contains one of the cutest things in the exhibition – aquae profundo by Gavin Bell, Jarrah de Kuijer and Simon McGlinn, moonlighting as a creative trio Greatest Hits: an ice carving of an alien displayed in a glass freezer, whose humorous, cartoon-like appearance and demeanour is worlds apart from Marc Quinn’s haunting ‘blood heads’.

There is also Dan Moynihan’s installation of a skeleton seated on a mound of sand under a plastic palm tree listening to a CD-player (how retro!) in a cylindrical enclosure with rainbow coloured walls; the artifice of the installation underscored by an adjacent fully equipped Ilya Kabakov-style utility closet.

ACCA NEW11 017 - Mark Hilton ACCA NEW11 019 - Mark Hilton (Detail)This leads us to perhaps the most striking and original, as well as the most disturbing  and haunting sculpture by Mark Hilton (in the room which contains other works by the artist, including three sump oil paintings on paper, and an exquisitely carved human bone). Fashioned in a shape of a mark on the outfits of colonial convicts, and resembling a melted Cricifix, the wall sculpture presents a macabre rendition of Jacques Callot’s The Hanging from The Miseries of War suite, or Francisco de Goya’s The Disasters of War.  A tree is growing from the human DNA, on the branches of which the “undesirable” elements of society are hung: mentally and physically disabled; homeless, elderly, obese, and infirm; women in burkas and indigenous chieftains; prostitutes, drug addicts, and pregnant teens; paedophiles and their victims; and there’s even a statuette of a guy in a military uniform hung while choking with a rope another guy whom he is sodomising. The edge of the ‘Cross’ is etched with jokes and one-liners about women, obese, drug addicts, etc. To my mind, this is perhaps the strongest, most outstanding, accomplished, and most politically and socially aware work within the exhibition that shows it is possible to quote from other artists and yet create one’s own iconic ideas, and develop one’s own unique iconographic language.

ACCA NEW11 021 - Mark Hilton

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2011. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgment]


NEW 010 @ ACCA, Melbourne

Raafat Ishak at New010 @ ACCA, MelbourneSunday, 2 May 2010

Dear Diary,

In my recent reviews I have noted a disturbing trend among contemporary Australian artists towards becoming self-referential, self-centred, glorified interior decorators.

The new exhibition at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Arts is not just a confirmation of this trend, it is an open, proud even, celebration of it, produced in collaboration with Nexus, a leading interior design and decoration company. Knowing Juliana Engberg, one never quite knows how much of it is an expression of her personal aesthetics, and how much of it is purely tongue-in-cheek take on the various trends in contemporary art.

 Alicia Frankovich @ ACCA New010I guess what puzzled me most about this exhibition is the artists’ relentless pursuit to “re-invent the wheel”, to take something that exists already, whether in the mass-production or in the media, and try their hand in making it from scratch – though sadly stopping short of the genius, inventiveness, or psychological depth of Boltansky or Kabakov’s installations.

Raafat Ishak’s set of decorated cubes, situated in the middle of an empty gallery space, looks invitingly like an arrangement of seats, alarmingly reminiscent of the minimalist stools in the ACCA’s foyer. Mountford’s cubes in the adjoining space clearly ‘descend’ from Andy Warhol’s Brillo boxes, though the artist has decorated them with the designs, which have been borrowed from a whole gamut of contemporary and modern masters. The accompanying video shows the ACCA staff randomly interacting with boxes and other objects in Mountford’s installation in an ‘arty’ take on a generic children’s TV program.  Alicia Frankovich’s Medea is a reworking of a product which is available commercially, while Fiona Connor’s recreation of the staff’s bedroom windows is rather thin ideologically and intellectually… though it does allow the visitor an intriguing insight into the ACCA’s metallic armature.

Fiona Connor at New010 @ ACCA, MelbournePerhaps the only two artists that stand out in this exhibition are Agatha Goethe-Snape and Susan Jacobs. The former has designed T-Shirts, embellished with slogans that are to be worn by staff and changed every day in accordance with their choice of colour or the slogan. The T-Shirts are also available to the visitors. However, this kind of public interaction / participation project, though clever as it may be, is desperately mired in the 1960s. Susan Jacobs is the only artist who eschews being an interior decorator, adapting the space around her works to her own minimalist and conceptual aesthetic, echoing the wit and brevity of Beuys.

[© Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg 2010. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgment]

Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

February 2019
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