Posts Tagged ‘Heide

08
Mar
11

Freehand @ Heide MoMA

ex de Medici Tooth-and-claw

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Freehand @ Heide MoMA

ex de Medici Tooth-and-claw

The exhibition Freehand at Heidi focuses on contemporary Australian works on paper. The visitor to the exhibition is greeted by the giant Tooth and Claw by ex de Medici. Her watercolours are always remarkable for the high quality of execution and superb draughtsmanship, and this large-scale work on paper is no exception. It depicts two skeletons, one of which is supporting on its shoulder a giant gun, while the other is being crushed by the weight of the second gun. The weapons are surrounded by darting swallows and garlands of carnations. Soviet-style five-pointed stars are interspersed throughout the intricate background design of the watercolour, and they also appear etched on the barrel of one of the guns, alongside the Stars of David. One would have wished to learn more about the intricate and complex narrative of this superb watercolour, but the information provided in the catalogue is rather meagre. While the multi-layered semantics of guns and skeletons are almost self-explanatory, as are carnations, which are symbolic of fallen soldiers, I am rather intrigued by the Jewish and Soviet references, which will remain a mystery for the time being (unless the artist, or someone who is well-versed in her iconography would care to contact me).

Mira Gojak

As one steps back to admire the large de Medici, one literally stumbles across a long trestle table supporting a work by Greg Creek. It is very similar to what the artist has been producing over the last ten years, and comparable examples had been shown in numerous locations, including Creek’s one-man-show at the ACCA. It represents a collection of seemingly unrelated images, executed by the artist over a period of time, and, knowing Greg Creek, it is quite possible that some of the figures and squiggles may have been ‘contributed’ by chance visitors to his studio. The work includes a beautiful glimpse of the Merri Creek Bridge; a highly competent from architectural and perspective points of view vista of Melbourne; and a silhouette from Caspar David Friedrich’s Wanderer skilfully disguised as a pink blob at the bottom of the page. Greg Creek’s skills and abilities are self-evident in this picture, but after roughly a decade of seeing “clever” works in unfinished state, one almost wishes to rest the eye on a completed piece.

Three works by Mira Gojak create a very strong statement. I must confess that the first time I saw her non-objective abstract pieces at the Murray White Rooms, I did dismiss them as being somewhat on the decorative side. But the more I see them (and one can’t miss a huge Gojak reproduced on a billboard on the corner of Chapel St and Alexandra Ave), the more I am growing appreciative of Gojak’s varied pigment applications; bold balancing of positive and negative spaces within the composition; and pulsating and rhythmical movements of her spiralling and undulating curves.

Del Kathryn Barton Freehand Heide

Another artist who leaves an unforgettable impression is Sandra Selig, whose works I saw for the first time a few years ago at an exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia. In essence, her pieces consist of spider webs, tinted with spay paint and adhesed to a black background. No doubt quite intricate and labour intensive to produce, they create delicate and evocative designs. While the concept is quite ingenious, given the context of this exhibition, these works did make me ponder, that they owe more to the wonder of nature than to the artist’s hand.

One of the artists who manages to produce works of consistent quality is Del Kathryn Barton, who is profiled quite extensively in this exhibition with a large number of works on display. Her drawings are superbly imaginative and disturbingly visceral, a visual chronicle of the artist’s innermost feelings and fears, and while a number of works continue the artist’s mediation on the female body, there are also cryptic references to the masculine fear of castration.

Gosia Wlodarczak DustCovers@Heide

And of course, one cannot go past the quirky madness that is Gosia Wlodarczak’s work. Depending on the direction of your exhibition perambulations, it is either the first or – as in my case – the last work to be seen in the show. Even though the surface of the work is assiduously covered with calligraphic scribbles, and figurative elements disappear under the ever-increasing layers of over-drawing, it retains the ghostly apparition of a car, which it originally covered, and on which the drawing was executed as a staged performance piece over a three-day period. It is interesting that Wlodarczak’s large-scale drawing is exhibited across the archway from the watercolour by ex de Medici, so the two works can be seen simultaneously from a single viewpoint. While Wlodarczak and de Medici’s works could not have been less alike, they converge at the pure joy elicited by both artists at the very act of drawing and picture making, and covering with markings almost every inch of the available surface.

Sandra SeligIn spite of the presence of a number of figurative artists mentioned above (including a selection of works by such ‘elder statesmen’ of Australian art as Peter Booth and Ken Whisson), the exhibition seems to be weighted more heavily towards abstraction as represented in works by Mario Fusinato, Dom de Clario, Robert McPherson, Eugene Carchesio, Aida Tomescu, and numerous others. Apart from a couple of artists, Freehand seems to overlook contemporary practitioners of traditional figuration, the likes of which one would have encountered, say, in the A.M.E. Bale Scholarship exhibition or on the walls of the Australian Galleries. However, I do accept that this is a strictly curatorial choice, which perhaps eschewed a well-rounded and all-inclusive survey of contemporary drawing in favour of representing recent developments and trends in present-day Australian art. In this the exhibition has fully succeeded by bringing together a representative selection of artists who draw in a variety of media, styles, and genres, and demonstrate in their works a thought-provoking plurality of artistic (self-)expression.

[PS: The photography within the gallery – even without flash – is strictly forbidden. I am relying on images of artists’ comparable works found elsewhere on the net.]

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

05
Jan
10

“Cubism and Australian Art” @ Heide – Part II

Daniel Crooks "Portrait"Tuesday, 5 January 2010 

Dear Diary,  

[Cont. from yesterday] There is no doubt that most of the artists, whose works have been included in this show, are aware of Cubism, studied it at schools, had (or have) books on Cubism and Picasso in their libraries, or at the very least walked past the works of the period in museums and galleries, but it is a bit of a stretch – much commented upon by the exhibition visitors – to gather everything under the Cubism umbrella. 

Given the absence of works by the Cubism’s progenitors, Picasso and Braque, the exhibition just as well may have been called “Alberti and Australian Art”, as all artists rely in some way on the studies of the perspective; “Caracci and Australian Art”, as most artists would have attended some sort of an art school; or even “Ingres and Australian Art”, a number of artists in this exhibition – especially the geometric abstractionists – respect the sanctity of the line. 

In fact, the most obvious title for this exhibition (as suggested by contemporary art theorists when summing up the prevalent trends in the art of the 20th Century) would have been “Formalism and Australian Art”. In the present form, it is not so much “Cubism and Australian Art” as “Cubism, its immediate followers, and everyone else who had ever referenced Picasso, or Braque, or used a geometric shape in Australian Art.” 

While the most obvious influence of Cubism is felt in the works of Australian artists from the 1920s to 1940s – such as Crowley, Atyeo, Dyring, Syme, Wilson, and others – two more artists stood out in the exhibition by displaying the ideas and theories of Cubism in their work. Fred Williams attempted to represent the landscape from several viewing points simultaneously within his paintings; and, most unexpectedly, Daniel Crooks created most striking works, very much in the spirit of Cubism, representing the person from different vantage points within each gradation of his collaged photographic portraits. (In fact, his video installation was one of my favourite pieces of the entire exhibition.) 

Apart from the most obvious absence of works by Picasso and Braque (represented in the exhibition by their satirized and / or deconstructed versions by Kosic, Davila and Bennett), other puzzlingly noticeable absences were Tony Tuckson, who was represented in the exhibition by a Futurist work instead of one of the many paintings that directly reference Picasso; and Robert Jacks, who, instead of many of his works which feature the deconstruction of the Picasso-esque guitar, was represented in the exhibition by a geometric abstraction. 

The gripes about the title of the show – and the flimsy aesthetics which united them all – aside, I can not do otherwise but declare that the “Cubism” is still a fantastic show. It is an amazing selection of works by (predominantly) Australian artists from the 1920s to the present day. It would be difficult to imagine another recent exhibition, where so much good formalist abstraction had been assembled in the same place. 

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

 

05
Jan
10

“Cubism and Australian Art” @ Heide – Part I

Melinda Harper "Untitled"

Monday, 4 January 2010 

Dear Diary,  

“Cubism and Australian Art” at the Heide Museum of Modern Art is an amazing visual feast of over 200 Australian and International paintings, sculpture, photography, installation, and video art from the 1920s to the present day, though held together by a very flimsy premise. 

The curatorial brief of the exhibition was to explore the influence of Cubism on Australian art. 

This is done indeed very well within the first two rooms of the exhibition, where the curators display the works by French followers of Cubism, and by Australian artists who studied in Paris in the 1920’s and 1930’s, and who brought the revolutionary concepts of Cubism to Australia. 

However, the cracks within the “influence of Cubism” idea already begin to show within these first exhibition spaces. For one, the visitor would look in vain for paintings by the founders of Cubism, Picasso and Braque, its early forerunners, such as Cézanne, or important late exponents, such as Gris. The absence of works by these artists is still more surprising given that Australian institutions have representative examples of their work, which would not have necessitated the costly procedure of international loans. 

Furthermore, the presence within these first rooms of paintings by Balson is already an indication of a curatorial confusion over styles and movements, or their insistence on stretching the parameters of their exhibition brief in order to include an ever-widening array of artists.

This becomes apparent in the rest of the exhibition spaces, where constructivism, futurism, surrealism, Dada, collage, anthropomorphism, geometric, hard edge, colour field, conceptual art, etc all jostle for space next to each other, all under the single banner of ‘being influenced by Cubism’.

[© 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

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