Posts Tagged ‘Contemporary Sculpture


Day 307: The Stags, by Patricia Piccinini

Patricia Piccinini The Stags

Day 307: The Stags, by Patricia Piccinini

Patricia Piccinini’s The Stags (2008) stem from the artist’s twin fascination with the length some car and bike owners would go to in order to accessorise their vehicles as well as her interest in the inherent anthropomorphic potential of inanimate objects.

She reimagines the popular European Vespa motor scooters as a pair of young stags during the mating season, fighting for supremacy and attention of a doe. In a way, a clear parallel can be drawn between competitive efforts to ‘pimp up’ cars and bikes, and the inherent belief in the ‘pulling’ power of the hotted-up vehicles.

Piccinini’s The Stags from the collection of the QAG / GOMA was recently on view in the Sculpture Is Everything exhibition, which also included works by such prominent sculptors as Ai Weiwei, Martin Creed, Olaf Breuning, Thomas Demand, Lara Favaretto, Simryn Gill, Romuald Hazoumé, Gordon Hookey, Zilvinas Kempinas, Anish Kapoor, Gordon Matta-Clark, John Mawurndjul, Henrique Oliveira, Dennis Oppenheim, Michael Sailstorfer, Kathy Temin, Ken Thaiday Sr, Rachel Whiteread, Ah Xian, and numerous others.  /

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


Day 298: Incident at Twickenham and Twickenham Official, by Simon Perry.

Simon Perry 2012a


Simon Perry 2012b


Day 298: Incident at Twickenham and Twickenham Official, by Simon Perry.

Hitherto, we are used to painters employing photography as their reference tool. Simon Perry’s Incident at Twickenham and Twickenham Official (2012) are a rare example of a sculptor turning to photography as a reference source, re-instating the three-dimensionality of a photographic image in the process.

Simon Perry, who is perhaps best known to Melburnians through his Public Purse sculpture in the Bourke Street Mall, was inspired by a photograph of an Australian streaker disrupting a rugby match at Twickenham in 1974. The swirling and twirling group of the streaker surrounded by Bobbies recreate the hustle and bustle of the ensuing pandemonium. The pendant sculpture of an official rushing along with a coat to cover the nakedness of the streaker completes the composition. By mounting the sculpted group on a motorised revolving platform that moves back and forth along the wall, Perry is forever frustrating the efforts of the portly Twickenham official to restore decorum to the scene.

Simon Perry’s sculpture is among the finalist of the Basil Sellers Art Prize 2012, which also includes a diverse selection of works by such artists as Brook Andrew, Richard Bell, Eugenio Carchesio, Greg Creek, Louise Hearman, and numerous others, on view at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, the University of Melbourne, until November 4.

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


Controversy @ Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery

Max Dupain Doom of YouthTuesday, 26 June 2012

Controversy @ Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery

Controversy: The Power of Art at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery unites over a hundred works that reflect, inspire, or engage in a public debate and / or a controversial issue. The breadth and variety of works on display is quite astounding, and includes paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photography, installation, multimedia, and even fashion. Although by its very nature and the fact that most of the works come from Australian public and private collections, the exhibition is heavily weighted towards contemporary Australian art, it does encompass art from the sixteenth century to the present day, and includes works by Hans Baldung, Francisco Goya, Marcel Duchamp, Jackson Pollock, William Dobell, Ron Robertson-Swann, Steve Cox, Kristin Headlam, Tom Alberts, Brook Andrew, Huan Zhang, Juan Davila, Patricia Piccinini, Damian Hirst, and many, many others.

Norman Lindsay Pollice VersoAmong the works that drew my attention was an unusual photograph by Max Dupain, Doom of Youth (1937) featuring a male nude. While nude males are quite rare in Dupain’s photographs, they are usually engaged in a sporting feat. This image features a crucified beefcake, a very prescient image for 1937. Next to it is a rarely seen Norman Lindsay’s Pollice Verso (1907), a pen drawing of extraordinary dexterity. It shows a group of Greek and Roman deities turning their thumbs down at a scene of Crucifixion. The drawing laconically illustrates Norman Lindsay’s criticism of the restrictions imposed by the Church and State on cultural and intellectual freedom. The section devoted to female nudes include another Norman Lindsay; the monumental La Cigale by Jules Lefebvre; Bertram MacKennal’s Circe; and a full-length studio nude by Freda Robertshaw, which I never knew was a self-portrait, a quite astounding and liberating act for the era.

Angela Ellsworth’s Seer BonnetThere is a startling and revealing photographic double-portrait of topless Mike Parr and his wife – his with amputated arm; hers with drastic mastectomy. Lisa Roet is represented with one of the most touching and original works I had seen by this artist, Mother and Child, that combines her characteristic sculpture of a baby chimp resting in palms of its mother’s hands, situated against a stained glass window decorated with chimps and traditional religious motives, inveighing onto the Creation versus Evolution debate.

The recent controversy over childhood nudity in art is addressed through works by Sandy Edwards, Polixeni Papapetrou, Peter Kingston, and the most effervescent and joyous painting by Amie Swynterton, and obscure but most fitting find for this exhibition. Trans / sexuality is examined through the works by Nan Goldin and Robert Mapplethorpe; the inclusion of Barry Humphries’ alter ego, Dame Edna Everage, complete with a full-size gladioli gown, is most fitting within the context of this exhibition.

Anne Zahalka Girls II Cronula BeachHauntingly evocative Angela Ellsworth’s Seer Bonnet, which is decorated with pearls on the outside and pins on the inside is a embodiment of the oppression faced by women not only within the Mormon community, which it directly addresses, but, to me, is also illustrative of women’s oppression throughout history. The though-provoking photograph by Anne Zahalka, The Girls II, Cronula Beach makes one rethink the changing face of Australia’s beach culture. It is interesting to juxtapose it with Emma Phillips’s most striking photograph of Pauline Hanson, imagined as a 1950s house wife, an Australian Marianne, a national icon, a tough country woman, hand-washing a load of Australian flags…

Ex de MediciLast but not least I was arrested by a most detailed drawing from the talented pen of ex de Medici, the details of which become apparent once the eye sight becomes accustomed to the intricacies of her design. The work represents the intertwined Swastika and the Star of David, bringing forth multifarious, uncomfortable, problematic, and emotionally conflicting connotations.

The strength of the exhibition lies in the fact that the curator, Vivien Gaston, did not go down an easy route and populate the gallery with images of pornography or gratuitous violence, but rather with works that much more strongly reflect the subtitle of the exhibition: THE POWER OF ART. The sheer breadth and variety of works on display show an almost omniscient approach, which bears evidence of Gaston’s long-standing interest in the subject, breadth of knowledge, and painstaking research. Despite the wide heterogeneity of works on display, the exhibition keeps the momentum going, for each image is a revelation that evokes a memory of the associated event and / or provokes a fresh reaction from the viewer. As the result, Controversy: The Power of Art is erudite, visually challenging, memorable, and thought-provoking.

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

Emma Phillips Pauline Hanson


National Gallery of Victoria – Australian Collections (Part VII)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

… continued from the previous entry (final) …

National Gallery of Victoria – Australian Collections (Part VII)

… This exultation, however, was short-lived, as displays of permanent collections of contemporary art were dismantled, and the space was increasingly given over to temporary exhibitions. The whole-sale acquisition and permanent installation of the Joseph Brown Collection further encroached into the amount of exhibition spaces that could be dedicated to displays of contemporary collections.

The current situation is such that the North-Western gallery on the top level serves as an intermittent display space for Australian art post 1960s. The current selection of works is certainly worth visiting – for it is quite unknown how soon it will be pulled down and replaced by yet another temporary exhibition; or for how long living Australian artists would be denied the pleasure and satisfaction of seeing their works on the walls of this premier institution. There is also a danger that international visitors, who might come to the NGV when these galleries are dismantled, would walk away with an erroneous and undeserved impression that pretty much nothing of value has happened in this country after the Antipodean revolution of the 1960s – for that’s when the chronological displays of Australian art conclude in the (thus far sacrosanct) spaces on the second level galleries.

The solution, of course, is that the NGV in Federation Square desperately needs another floor – or another space – dedicated to the display of their extensive, exhaustive, and incomparable collections of post-1960s Australian art and artists. That such a space has not been envisaged or considered necessary when the new building was being designed is baffling and incongruous to say the least, as if the architects were not briefed that the collection would continue to grow and that more worthy art would be produced – and acquired – as time progresses. 

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


National Gallery of Victoria – Australian Collections (Part VI)

Saturday, 14 January 2012

… continued from the previous entry …

National Gallery of Victoria – Australian Collections (Part VI) 

It is with a sense of elation that I saw a display of post-1960s Australian art from the gallery’s permanent collection in the northern wing of the top floor spaces. A giant Robert Klippel statue greets the visitor at the entrance. Alun Lean-Jones’s Noumenon of the 1970s gives a foretaste of things to come. The display in the first gallery includes a giant You Beaut by John Olsen from 1962; a shaped canvas by Tony McGillick; a vast Brett Whiteley nude; an industrial Jan Senbergs; and Richard Larter’s iconic paintings of his wife, Pat. Placing a set of giant Gawirrin Gumana’s totem poles in the next room in the centre of Fred Williams’ Pilbara landscapes of 1981 is an inspired touch, as is Nick Mangan’s In the Crux of the Matter against Peter Booth’s post-apocalyptic nuclear Winter of 1993. Paintings and installations by Rosalie Gascoigne, Louise Weaver, Howard Arkley, Rosslynd Piggott, Tim Maguire, and others complete this section. In the adjoining gallery, under the banner of 10 Ways to Look at the Past, there’s a limited display of contemporary artists, consisting of works by Tom Nicholson, Tracey Moffatt, Peter Kennedy, David Noonan, Brooke Andrew, Ricky Swallow, and a few others.

As I sat down at the NGV’s Crossbar Café for a bite of smoked salmon sandwich and a sip of coffee, I caught myself thinking that the display of permanent holdings of Australian art from the 1780s to roughly 1960s has always been consistent and well-represented. The display of Modern and Contemporary Australian art post 1960s has appeared at times as an afterthought. For example, when the entire collection was housed in the St Kilda Road building, the display of Australian collections inexplicably stopped with the art from the 1960s; only three pictures by Booth, Tuckson, and Watson near the exit summed up the history of contemporary art from the 1960s to the present day.

When the collection was split in two, and Australian holdings were relocated into the Fed Square building, there was a general expectation that Modern and Contemporary art would be given a more considerate treatment. Certainly, the opening exhibition redressed this problem, as, from memory, it provided a detailed examination of Australian art post 1960s in all its stylistic complexities and diversity of various media. It also showed the immense holdings of contemporary Australian art within the NGV’s collections, no doubt due to generous bequests that are specifically targeted towards the acquisition of contemporary art; the Gallery’s own buoyant collection policy in this area; numerous gifts of contemporary Australian art, which are generously donated to its collection with the encouragement from the Commonwealth Government’s Cultural Gifts Program in exchange for tax concessions; and last but not least the presence of a number of high-profile art collectors on the NGV’s various boards and committees…

the be continued…

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


Angels-Demons by AES+F

Angels-Demons AES+F

Thursday, 20 October 2011 

For anyone riding down Swanston Street and St Kilda Road it would become apparent that a swarm of demon babies has descended upon Melbourne. Numbering seven in total, they stretch from the Melbourne Town Hall to the Arts Centre forecourt. These Angels-Demons, to give them their correct name, are a product of the talented and internationally renowned Russian collective, AES+F, and they are making their stop-over here for the duration of the Melbourne Festival.

Angels-Demons AES+F

These grand Neo-Baroque sculptures cannot be missed due to their sheer size and commanding presence. The attraction to them is instantaneous, as we are naturally drawn to anything that has to do with babies – if the multi-billion dollar baby industry and the increasing proliferation of baby photos on Facebook are anything to go by.

Angels-Demons AES+F

But the fascination is also borne by the innumerable visual dichotomies and psychological paradoxes contained within these sculptures. The very title of these works already points towards the inherent dualities with which the artists have imbued their works. Angels-Demons have no distinguishable gender or race; they are simultaneously playful yet threatening; unmistakeably human yet with atavistic dragon tails, bat wings, and horn protrusions; reminiscent of the innocent and harmlessly mischievous putti and yet so visibly demonic.

Angels-Demons AES+F

The babies’ pink and puffy skin has been replaced here by hard, black, cold and gleaming surfaces, which reflect everything around them. By gazing at these sculptures, we involuntarily end up seeing our own reflection perhaps recognising in the process the aspects of inherent multiplicities within ourselves.

Angels-Demons AES+F

Angels-Demons AES+F

Angels-Demons AES+F

Angels-Demons AES+F

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2011]


Brett Graham and Lisa Reihana @ Fehily Contemporary

Fehily Contemporary 2011aTuesday, 21 June 2011

Brett Graham and Lisa Reihana @ Fehily Contemporary

I finally made a pilgrimage to the new space of Fehily Contemporary in Glasshouse Road, Collingwood, which is just around the corner from James Makin and Catherine Asquith. There is a large exhibition area on the ground floor, the L-shape of which is slightly reminiscent of the Tolarno Galleries. Its spacious high walls are perfectly designed for the display of contemporary art, which will be the mainstay of Fehily’s exhibition program.

Lisa Reihana Kia OraCurrently on display are works by two New Zealand artists, which showcase the gallery’s ambition to stage exhibitions not only by Australian but also international artists. Large-format photographs by Lisa Reihana, Nga Hau E Wha (Four Wind Goddesses) feature the artist’s nieces, and blend together high fashion photography with traditional Maori lore. Despite the excellent quality of these works and striking appearances of the four young women, they somewhat lack the iconicity of the Marae series, which were recently shown at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Brett Graham’s large scale wooden sculptures from the Rikuhia series, the shape of which is based on deep-sea scanners, are ornately carved with traditional Maori designs. The pieces are quite impressive due to their size and the sheer amount of work that went into them, yet I could not help but feel that they lacked the intricacy and ingenuity of Robert Bridgewater’s large scale biomorphic wooden sculptures of the late 1990s.

Brett Graham Te HokoiThere is a smaller gallery upstairs, perfect for staging intimate and small-scale exhibitions. Currently on display is a selection of works under $1,000 by gallery artists in a variety of media. Most galleries around Melbourne intermittently put together exhibitions of their lower priced artworks under the banner of ‘affordable’, ‘small treasures’, and the like. The Fehilys have picked up the idea and repackaged it as their “Young Collectors’ Program”, which displays an enviable flair for marketing and re-branding. I have to give it to the Fehilys ingenuity: instead of making one feel like a cheap-skate who can only afford to shop at the lower end of the market, they make their entry-level collectors feel a part of a special and exclusive group. The works on offer include pieces by Ash Keating, Sonia Payes, Gosia Wlodarczak, and many others.

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2011. This article is copyright, but full or partial use is welcome with proper acknowledgement. Where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

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