a gallery per day: may week 2A

that 2A business is because i was still obviously jetlagged when i wrote that last post and couldn’t manage to count properly. hmm.

so, back to this week’s galleries..

anselm reyle, untitled, 2006
thanks to tate modern

8.5.07
tuesday.
white cube – hoxton sq, jessica rankin

jessica rankin in as an australian artist who works with textiles and text and is currently showing in the younger brother of the ‘ cube. The works were incredibly beautiful and if i had money to burn and a nice, light house to put it in, i would consider buying one. but then, i’m always considering buying work, so i don’t know how much of a compliment that really is.

her use of text and stitch was really interesting to me. i’m not really that into textiles and craft, although i’d like to be, so i was really struck by her ability to create depth using the type of stitch, the colour of the thread and the use of sheer material as her substrate. the way that the work was hung, stretched over pins about 2 inches from the wall was fantastic and really did the work justice, creating an ever-so-slight shadow for the works.

9.5.07
wednesday
elms lesters painting rooms, don’t do that – group show of urban and street artists.

before i launch into my rant, i want to give a big thumbs up to Delta and Dalek in this show. Delta’s structural-based paintings, sculptures and drawings totally floated my boat and Dalek’s graphic work is as crisp and witty as always.

now, the rant.
*warning* this opinion is based on my limited experience in australia and may be wildly off the mark here.

for the first time today i understood why brands, stereotypes and cultivated identities help. not just because i read an interesting post by the northen planner today, but because i’ve just walked out of a gallery in london with a bad taste in my mouth. the don’t do that show was billed in time outas a “group show of urban and street artists” so i (stupidly) had an expectation of what may be on show and the kind of gallery it might be, although the name of the gallery did have me slightly confused.
**[For the uninitiated, PoncyName Gallery/Painting Rooms = Poncy Gallery and loads of trad paintings, usually]

anyway, i went up, buzzed in and saw a bunch of mis-matched graphic artists in a room that was more suited to large Lucian Freuds or James Gleesons than street-level works and my first instinct was ‘bandwagon!’.

this is not to say that the artists involved were all bad. some of them were great, but i got the sense that they had been snapped up in a gallery because street art is the big money earner here at the moment – it happens with every ‘nextbigthing’. see under Blind Melon.

i felt like vomiting when i heard one of the posh clients in the gallery saying “i’ve been into graffiti art since the beginning”. oh bullshit. you’re into graffiti like I’m into Louis XVI antiques: you fucking wish.

calling the show street and urban art was also way off. like trying to squeeze it into the genre that everyone is aware of right now. in fact, only Stash would really come under street/urban and his work on canvas were abysmal. Delta and Dalek are well-known artists, but they’re graphic/low-brow artists and are being done a disservice sitting in a gallery that is so off the mark. Ron English was also part of the show and for him to be lumped in with bad aerosol art is an insult. He is a king of low-brow/graphic art.. or what I call Outre art.

now, i’m all for elevating the everyday/street/popular to the high-brow, but that can only be done if the gallery has a real passion or understanding of the art. and i hate to say it, but the gallery (as in 4 walls, ceiling, floor, etc) needs to reflect it. the upstairs section of Elms Lesters sorta kinda worked for this kind of show, but otherwise, it was bollocks. it has made me realise that the way something is presented matters in terms of where it fits and what people can expect.

if this gallery wants to really take on street/urban/low brow art it needs to actually look like the kind of place in which that kind of work fits and huge white walls, enormously high ceilings and dark floor boards aint it. street art/urban art/graffiti is so tied to where it sits – usually on shitty brickwalls surrounded by all kinds of other visual viscera (whether it likes it or not) – that removing it so far from that context just screams ignorance.
[And i think that may be the bit that comes from limited experience of seeing work in these kind of environments].

10.5.07
thursday
tate modern.

everyone had been pushing me to go to the tate modern [like i wasn’t going to], so i was determined to take it slowly and not do the art appreciation equivalent of skulling a bottle of jack daniels (or whatever).

young will and i were supposed to meet up at angel afterwards, but he decided to also go to the tate, so we met there instead. it was quite nice having an interlude of sorts and a chance to meet up with a twitter/blogger friend who i hadn’t met before. we ate at the restaurant, which was very nice, but somewhere i probably won’t go again. funds being limited and all that.

so, back to the art.

level 2 gallery, the artist’s dining room

before lunch i popped into the level 2 gallery exhibition which featured 3 german artists: Manfred Kuttner, Anselm Reyle and Thomas Scheibitz, concerning themselves with contemporary abstraction through material: bold colours and shiny surfaces – reflection as form. Manfred Kuttner was actually practicing in the 60s and his work has (justifiably) being recently reinvestigated. his line of inquiry and craft seemed far more measured than the youngsters and i really liked the corrugated cardboard piece he did on linear perception.

the whole exhibition there was fantastic and really well put-together; each artist complimented the others exactly and i got a deepening understanding of abstraction through them. and for someone to leave a show with that feeling is a really positive outcome i think.

interestingly, i noticed that a lot of the works in that particular show were Untitled. months ago, someone, somewhere on the blogosphere was griping about the whole untitled thing and to whomever that was, you should go and see this show, if you can. these works were so much about form and material that having a title would have completely distorted the focus into ‘what does it all mean’ kind of thinking. and in this case, i completely and utterly understood it.

UBS drawings: idea and object (level 5)

this entire show looks fucking amazing and i’m looking forward to spending some serious time in the rooms.

not wanting to overload, i just paced my way through the Idea and Object section, which featured artists from the Minimalists to Installation artists, although i like how they haven’t actually used the term of the movement but categorised in terms of focus of inquiry.

i got to swoon by the work of Donald Judd (especially the red copper cube, which creates a red light ‘experience’), Ellsworth Kelly, Sol Le Witt (RIP) – his black chalk room was ace and i really wish i could have taken a photo of the emergency exit sign/door – the only evidence of outside life; Joseph Beuys and his survival work plus i had a good chuckle at Rachel Whiteread‘s 24 Switches work and the projected UK light switch by Ceal Floyer – who would have thought a humble light switch could reveal so much about a culture?

i also really enjoyed the film of the ants transporting the coloured discs by Rivane Neuenscwander & Cao Guimardes and it encouraged and validated an idea i’ve had about using ants in a similar way.

i was quite comforted by the amount of people checking out the works and their level of engagement – there were art students drawing an Ellsworth Kelly so i also drew one (i can feel quite self-conscious about drawing in galleries sometimes) and i totally loved the Tate Tracks business. I listened to the response to Donald Judd’s Untitled (stack of blue bars). I didn’t find the point of connection they had at all, but it was great to try, all the while really analysing both the visual art work and the musical work in a way that is normally quite a private or subconscious act.

there will be a weekly visit to the tate modern too and the shop there will be my downfall.

11.5.07
friday

i tried, i really did. but i didn’t make it to a gallery. penance has been made.

12.5.07
saturday
vyner street galleries, east end.

on tuesday, after visiting white cube, my friend and i popped in to see whitechapel, but it was closed. i decided that i was going to go today. i jumped on a bus towards aldgate east and the weather was so awful that i hopped off at vyner st, hackney/bethnall green and went to a bunch of galleries there instead. whitechapel will have to wait, again.

simon morse
thanks to vinespace.net

ibid projects, guillermo gaivano – ekegrata

from the write up in time out, i got the impression that ibid was going to be a funky, slightly hinky, artist-run space.

computer says no.

the front door is a polished stainless steel door with an engraved 21 and IBID Projects on the door. You have to buzz a very slick buzzer to get in and the silence inside is deafening.
the work, however, was humming. oils on hessian, they had a depth and strength to them that i’ve never seen on primed canvas or linen. guillermo built up the figurative forms lightly and delicately and the result was quite eery. my favourite one, Equinox of the Apprenticeship>, was something straight out of the occult – the desperate and dramatic worship or ritual, but given a lightness that i can’t quite articulate. his palette, while quite dark and limited, was quite sculptural. insofar as there were greens that looked like a copper patina, rust, black oxide and a tumeric kind of colour.

one thing that really struck me was the absolute lack of interest from the gallery staff, whatsoever and without prices on the roomlist, absolutely no incentive to buy. on one hand i kind of like the fact that the work is there, as work on the walls, without an attachment to a commodity. however, i also like to be able get a sense of where artworks lie in the market and whether i could actually afford to buy a work if i wanted. not having a room list available increases the pressure for me to instigate a sale, rather than being able to choose from afar. it didn’t really reflect the supposed commercial nature of the gallery. i guess it’s just a little cultural difference, but between that and the difference in artist-led-spaces here, i really noticed it.

kate macgarry, luke gottelier

i’m going to be brief: ho, hum.

the paintings were very basic drawings on black canvas with darts inserted into the edge of the stretcher, creating a ‘frilly’ frame. midly interesting idea, poorly executed.

vinespace, simon morse and kevin wright – light reflecting booster technology

i stumbled upon this gallery, thanks to it being the only one in the area with a sign [even though the sign looked like that of a cross between a mini-cab office and a brothel]. and i’m glad i did stumble upon it – the work was great! especially the work of simon morse – the computer generated images of fabricated technological gadgets (see above). it was extended for an extra week, so i’m glad i got to see it.

artists anonymous, 900 calories

the work in here was amazing and i was pleased to see an artist sitting the space and actually available to talk with. i don’t like being hounded in a gallery, but if i want to chat about the work, it’s nice to speak with someone who is equally enthusiastic.
the whole gallery had turf laid through it and it was awesome. i had wanted to do this years ago, but with australian summers being what they are, well, impossible. but this was great. it smelled awesome and worked perfectly with the video work i saw, featuring a man, laying on the grass looking skywards, talking to someone on a hands-free phone and confessing to them in detail about his drug-fuelled escapades and the ways in which he hit his girlfriend, also a junkie. it was quite an intimate experience and i was impressed that the topic of violence against women was broached from a perpetrator’s perspective. not often seen. i wasn’t sure how much it was intended to relate to the name of the gallery, but it worked well.

fred, etc

not open. next time.

13.5.07
sunday
whitechapel[finally!], pablo pijnappel

the paris-born, dutch artist showed 3 films about his history and the history of his family and a slide projection of 81 drawings. the films were very entertaining and i recommend seeing them, but for me, the drawings were really delightful. shown as a slide show (a proper one, not online), the projected drawings were large enough to appreciate the composition and craft of it, while small enough to be able to engage with them on the whimsical level intended. the narrative of the story is adorable and i left wishing i could draw that well.

on the way to the bus, i also quickly popped into the brick lane gallery, showing paintings i really didn’t like and another little gallery on the corner of brick lane and cheshire st. it was showing cute drawings by all kind of rockin’ peeps, like thurston moore, rita ackerman and martin creed. not sure what the gallery is called, but check it.

14.5.07
monday
the national gallery, the sainsbury wing, room 52

this is going to be a slow process and i hope to get through a few more rooms next time. but today i decided to start at the very beginning, the very best place to start.
[actually, that would be at the natural history museum, but for the sake of this post, it’s room 52]

this section of the gallery would usually bore me to tears, but today i saw it with new eyes. I had a look at old umbrian icon paintings and early religious depictions of christ and the virgins. i plonked myself down in front ofCimabue‘s The Virgin and Child enthroned with Two Angels, 1265-1280, a painting which i knew to be a fucking crucial work in terms of the development of pictoral representation. the wall card called it revolutionary and i would have to agree.

it was one of the earliest recognised works that successfully depicted 3-dimensional space in 2-dimensional format through a chair and 2 steps. sounds oh, so, ho-hum to those of us who have grown up with 3D representation in our fucking genes, but looking at this work and drawing it, the fact that Cimabue spent 15 years working against his history of how to represent the human figure, narrative and space was mind-blowing. it even got me wondering if we really do represent things as we see them or do we see things based on the representation that we are presented with? before Cimabue, did people only perceive a chair as a 2D form because that was all they were presented with? sounds patronising, but the concept of learning visualisation amazes me nonetheless.

if i had a scanner or batteries in my camera, i would open myself up to ridicule and show you the ernest but equally unpractised drawing i did from Cimabue’s work. i’ll be drawing something each week, so maybe next time.

next week – jake and dinos chapman at the tate britain, the design museum and states of flux at the tate modern.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

a gallery per day: may week 2

thanks to travel, my gallery visits have been a little outta wack. hopefully we’re back on track.

03.05.07
thursday
XVA, zayed university art and design students

on my first day in dubai, we visited a small cultural precinct near the museum. this was amazing in itself ‘cos everything in dubai is big. big is better and to go to somewhere that was really quite intimate was damned exciting! XVA is a gallery and cafe, serving delicious local meals at a relatively decent price, plus art works that weren’t too bad. the exhibition on at the moment is student works from the Zayed University. The girls’ work was obviously student work, but it was still pretty good. Either they had a good printmaking teacher or it’s something that the Emirates are good at, but the print works were the best. There were some fantastic artist books and some great aquatint/sugarlift works. I’m not sure if it was ‘cos most of these girls had some serious wasta (influence) or whether artworks are just priced as status symbols, but they were pretty hefty. Thankfully i couldn’t even think about buying them.

XVB, Malekeh Nayiny
Next door was a new gallery, called ave gallery, but known as XVB (being next to XVA). The work in here was much more like work that I like to see. The Iranian artist had done two bodies of photographic works: The first, home sweet home, based loosely on Hansel and Gretel fairy tale, but more focused on the idea of loss/redemption, they featured two ‘children’ on a journey through the desert and with associations of personal struggle. They were great, but the work in the second room was better. Or perhaps more to my liking. Backlit photographic works of ‘street saints’ – mostly Romanian people in Paris posing with a copy of the street magazine L’Itinerant (kind of like The Big Issue) featuring Jesus and his Friends. It had the right amount of kitch, drama, politics and craft to really float my boat.

The gallery is only a month old, according to the gallery assistant and I hope it gets the support it deserves. Contemporary international work in Dubai is few and far between and mostly geared towards tourists or the status-seeking wealthy. I think investigative artwork is only just starting to bloom, but it’s great to see the work that is appearing there.

04.05.07
friday
sharjah art museum, sharjah biennial
sharjah is the next emirate over from dubai. it’s far more conservative and i had to make sure i was appropriately covered. [tattoo]tank girl’s arse could not be seen.

after midday prayer and when the art museum opened, we were able to spend some time going through one of the major venues for this year’s biennial. i’m so glad that my trip coincided with this arts festival. i wish i could say that i planned it that way, but i didn’t. i should have though.

the theme of the biennial is still life: art, ecology and the politics of change – a fantastic theme, especially for the emirates and right throughout the middle east. it’s so charged on all fronts and whilst it’s difficult (ie illegal) to speak out openly against the government and its decisions in the emirates, especially sharjah, the artists have been able to tackle important issues with poignancy and even a sense of humour. as i posted previously, the emirates is one of the biggest building sites at the moment and concern for the environment hasn’t really come into fashion there, like it rightly has in other nations. hell, even basic kerbside recycling is non-existent! the land is being pushed and pulled about and convenience/luxury comes at any cost. i was so pleased to see, though, that it’s not just privileged westerners like me who seem to give a fuck about this, which was a relief.

some of the works from the museum which stood out for me included e-xplo‘s map of sharjah and conversations with workers (grossly underpaid and exploited immigrants helping to building the place), simon starling’s sinking boat – medium format slide documentation of a small steam boat (with its own name, which i can’t remember and didn’t take note) being consumed by itself to feed it’s own power. it was an amazingly powerful analogy that i’m surprised more people didn’t go as ga-ga over it as i did!

simon starling,projector

anyway, there were three other major stand-out works for me at the biennial here (and i didn’t make notes of their names, ‘cos i figured i would get the catalogue – not true): Yellow Cow which was an installation of a supermarket style fridge section and the artist had made up ‘yellow cow’ milk and cheese which were “ethically reduced” dairy products, a dig at such wilfull consumption; the humidographic work, which raised the temperature of the gallery over the period of the biennial by 2º and plotting the rise and fall in humidity in the gallery during that time. It was a nice dig at climate change and climate manufacture. The other awesome work i loved was by Michael Rakowitz who created a ‘museum display’ containing replicas of important cultural and archaelogical works that were trashed or stolen when the National Museum of Iraq was looted during the US invasion and fall of the Hussein regime. The works were re-created using the packaging of iraqi products and brands, which was witty but it was shocking to read about the vital clues to history that have been lost forever. It also re-iterated the importance culture has on the identity of a nation. The coolest thing about Michael’s exhibit, though, was not actually the thought-provoking works, but the rockin’ soundtrack of Smoke On the Water played on the oud and other traditional middle-eastern instruments and sung with a lebanese accent. It was r.o.c.k!

5.5.07
saturday.
sharjah expo centre, sharjah biennale

so, i really enjoyed the work at the art museum, but once i got to the expo centre, i realised that it had been the poorer cousin. the exhibition in the expo centre shat all over the other one and i was stoked to see some impressive works with a lot more maturity to it. when you first walk in the door, mona hatoum’s globe glares at you in bright neon red and well, i couldn’t help but fall in love with it at first sight. there were a tonne of great exhibits and i don’t have the time to go through them all, but i’ll just give shout-outs to the top-guns:
mona hatoum‘s globe
cornelia park – she’s my new best friend right now – loving her work – the fire wood hanging cube, Heart of Darkness and the Noam Chomsky in Massechusetts video. Her third video work wasn’t working on the day, which was a little disappointing.
sergio vega‘s steel pole orchard with hammocks slung from them
-the overhead sol project was great – thousands of white A4 sheets pegged from lines, which looked like waves, sails, solar panels – gorgeous and calm.
mounir fatmi‘s video tape city skyline and city skyline tables.
and lara baladi‘s kaleidescope of electronic images. that was fan-fucking-tastic! i could have watched it for hours, but it did my head in.

the other great thing about the expo venue too, was the character of the actual display. the false walls and the scaffolding were still bare, like the guts and structure – the underbelly of the exhibition were still left exposed. i couldn’t work out whether it was from laziness or a desire to express a desire to be transparent and vulerable, but either way, it was a great touch. i think i actually liked being jolted out of my pristine white cube expectations! well, whaddya know.

sincere apologies for lack of details. like i said, had planned to get the catalogue and then realised that it was out of my league, financially.

6.5.07
sunday.
motherfucking time on a motherfucking plane. no gallery visit.

7.5.07
monday. bank holiday. no time to dilly-dally. in london, plenty of galleries to see!
national gallery of london, permanent collection orientation and leon kossof, drawings from paintings.

being a bank holiday, i was a bit suspect on heading into a major tourist gallery, in the middle of tourist centre (trafalgar square) when everybody was out and about. surprisingly, it wasn’t actually too bad. i didn’t want to spend ages there because i’ve made a decision to go to the national gallery once a week for the six months i’m here. so, in preparation for that, i just did a quick squizz around the collection. i didn’t go mental, managed to hold back on falling in love every 5 seconds and oriented myself. i have a feeling i’ll be spending a lot of time in the reubens room, the italian room and the picasso room.

in keeping with the idea of living in the gallery, i was stoked to be able to see the leon kossof drawing show. kossof, as well as auerbach and bacon, is one of my favourite brit post-war boys and his methodical craft of drawing from the national gallery collection is one which i not only admire, but can see the benefits of. my old painting teacher used to go on about leon’s habits in front of the collection and i see why.

the etchings were actually more engaging for me, with sharper lines and richer blacks, but the structure and study in the drawings really reminded me why i love drawing. the national art school drawing department instilled in me a love of this kind of investigation and standing in front of years’ worth of “looking and putting” all made sense.

there was a little video that accompanied the exhibition, which was informative to a degree, but i felt like Colin Wiggins was just reading from the catalogue. I would have liked to hear from Leon Kossof himself, and while Ann Dowker, his friend and printmaking master was informative and engaging, it wasn’t quite as good as it could have been.

I left the gallery only have spend £1.40 on a cup of tea, but have plans to save up my pennies (literally) and buy a whole bunch of books from the shop as a treat, once a month. well, that’s the plan at the moment – we shall see once i start joining the masses of the underpaid antipodean.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

a gallery per day: april week 4

i promised myself that i would start this, and like someone in the blogosphere said, if you say it online, you usually do it.
i think i’ve done pretty well so far. so, in the last week, here are the galleries i’ve managed to pop into:

21.4.07
saturday
kings ari, melbourne,david shrigley

i made a very special effort to get to the david shrigley show at kings. it finishes after i leave and i’ve fast become a huge fan of his work. i’m usually not into the naive/cutesy/fluffy/über cool trend that is sweeping (australian) contemporary art at the moment, but for some reason, david shrigley cuts through all of that patronising crap and makes some fantastic works. actually, they’re not works. they’re statments. they’re heavy on the text, but the text is so beautifully chosen/written, that i mostly end up doubled over with laughter.

the show at kings was just a small poster show and the movie (with chris shephard) called who i am and what i want. think the lovechild of harvey crumpet mixed with william kentridge. it was great! other highlights from the show included posters with the following hilarious texts:


MO
THE
R IS
10

And is having a party.

(maybe the infamous ad agency mother?) and then these priceless ones:

LOST
1 soul. mostly transparent. does not answer to the name of jacob. expressed an interest in inhabiting an inanimate object rather than me.
last seen whilst kissing ass for recent promotion.
if found call 571274118

or

Attention
A messge to anyone who will listen:
Joanie Hardie
will leave her job
“because it is totally rubbish”
and
“leaving such an awful job will be a sweet release”
as of very soon she will not work at:
ACCELERATOR
part of the media initiatives group
And her contact details will no longer be::
T. 0207436 4600
F. 020 7631 3122
(It will be some other poor fool who answers the phone)

* i think shrigley must hang out in marketing/advertising circles, ‘cos there were heaps relating to the adverset.

22.4.07
sunday. in a band van on the way to sydney. no galleries to be seen.

this photo taken in euroa:

23.4.07
monday
kudos gallery, sydney, he said, she said

OK, so this is a bit of a cheat ‘cos it’s my own show, but hey, it’s my blog.
I’ve written about Installation Week before and this was nothing like it. It was so damn easy. Becky from Kudos is ace – she helped us out so much. And Sarah Mosca is a fantastic curator and she had everything so damned organised – it was a breeze.
I arrived feeling a bit stressed, having been a gypsy for the last 3 weeks and it was starting to take a toll. Sarah put my mind at rest straight away without being patronising – a skill I’m grateful that she has. I was also a little anxious because my kinetic work was in a state of disrepair – the motor was falling off the casing, the casing had been bashed a little in transit and I had to do some open-heart surgery. However, after some food and some furtive concentration, I got it to work. Quite well I thought too.

The rest of the work went up pretty easily in the afternoon, with the most frustrating aspect being the mural on the feature wall and the OH&S elephants from UNSW that came traipsing through the place. That was until the rain came, then it was a frantic game of protecting works, finding buckets, trays, anything to catch the water in. it was coming down in sheets and there was no end in sight – rain predicted for 3 days. some of us panicked. some of us stayed calm.

Finished up at about 7pm, leaving Sarah, Dave and Tim finish up some of the finer points of installing.
I think i like being in a group show like this, minimum stress really.

UPDATE: to the person who bought White, Red: I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for supporting emerging contemporary art.

24.4.07
tuesday
charles hewitt gallery, michael schlieper .

Checking out a gallery per day isn’t all about going to the cool and groovy ones. It’s about being fair. So in the interest of fairness, I popped into Charles Hewitt Gallery, in Paddington. The entrance to the gallery was an experience of itself, with a classy auto sliding glass panel, a beautiful chaise l’ounge and ambient classical music.Ick. The work they had exhibition could easily have been tarred with ‘shit’ and left it at that, but I actually had deeper thoughts and feelings about it. Fortunately or Unfortunately.
The paintings were detailed images of Australian landscape. I’m not sure where the artist is from, but a lot of the images reminded me of the rock ledges and cliff faces of the Royal National Park where I used to spend a lot of time on my mountainbike many moons ago. While I felt that some of the colour-work of the paintings could have been amped up and the details of the paintings strangled them a little, I did actually appreciate the works as a reminder of quintessentially Australian terrain. Usually the terrain here wouldn’t register on my ‘things to get excited about’ list, but because I’ve been in transit and about to head for Ol’ Blighty, I’m aware of the aspects of this country that I’m especially fond of, or are particularly unique to here. These works fulfilled that for a moment. While I wouldn’t buy one, I could see why someone might and it was nice to broaden my perspective about it for a moment, instead of casting immediate aspersions.

25.4.07 anzac day. public holiday.
wednesday
slot gallery, sydney, philippine islander artists.

No main galleries open. although I did check out the windows of slot gallery, a window space gallery in redfern, sydney. they had two really beautiful painted catholic icons on tin panels from artists on an island in the phillipines (which i can’t remember the name of, sorry).

there were also some pictures of the panels in situ and some small sculptures which belonged with them, but I was really taken by the panels. they’re reminiscent of historical religious tempera paintings – raphael and giotto came to mind. They were quite special and even taken out of context, still engaging objects.

26.4.07
thursday
no gallery today. mooched around at home.

27.4.07
friday
made up for yesterday’s slackness by checking out 4, yes 4 galleries.

NGV, flinders st, melbourne, joseph brown collection
with 20 minutes to spare and an unwillingness to pay $15 for the australian impressionism show, i popped into the gallery showing the dr joseph brown collection. this was a goldmine and i’m hoping i can squeeze in a chance to quickly check some more of it out down the track. brown recently donated 450 works to the gallery and the gallery will have it on permanent display. the collection includes works from the who’s who of australian artists worth giving a shit about. names to drop: eugene von guerrard, conrad martens, e.phillips fox (my new fav aussie old school painter), mc cubbin, nolan, drysdale, streeton, miller, tucker.. and that was just the ones i saw.
i’m hoping that when i go back i see a few more of our stellar gals in there, like hester, beckett, black, preston, etc. but if you’re in melbourne, you need to see this show. i know that europe has a depth of art history that we don’t even come close to, but this collection gives you a good sense of what is our art history in this country and i have to say, i left with a bit of pride. (that i’m sure will be crushed the minute i walk into the tate)

citylights until never gallery, off hosier lane, melbourne, curvy artists
on the way to check out mike parr’s exhibition (see below), i was snapping away in hosier lane, when i stumbled upon until never gallery. i had never heard of it before, so decided to check it out. it was up a couple of flights of rickety stairs and at one point i remember thinking that maybe it’s some cruel ruse. anyway, got to the top and there was quite a large, open room with mounted prints on the wall of a range of fairly girly artworks. i recognised them from the new curvy mag that’s out now. these, combined with the lightboxes in the lane were an added bonus to the publication of the artworks. seeing them brought up an interesting point about validation of artworks for me. i would have been quite happy to just be published, but i guess having a limited edition print produced, means you can sell it and someone can make some money somewhere along the line. while the prints left me a little ‘meh’, the customised adidas zip-up jackets did pique my interest. i thought they were a pretty cool idea! they were all on white jackets with gold stripe and i had the feeling that someone at adidas went – here’s a dud line, here girls, paint on these! but it did remind me that customising sports wear with artists is cool. just check out the sneakerpimps for proof!

anna schwatrz gallery, flinders lane, melbourne, mike parr
i haven’t been into anna schwartz before, but i’ve been keeping an eye on her stable for ages. i’m so glad i went in there. it was like no gallery i’ve ever, ever been in before! it is the most white cube gallery i’ve seen in australia and it’s so severe it’s awesome! i know it’s not for some, but i totally loved it! it’s a space where i felt that anything could happen there, but not in a homely way, but like an out-of-the way in the desert kind of way. the depth and hollowness of it is awesome.
and although mike parr is one of my favourite australian artists – i’m responsible for the ‘better than sliced bread’ quote that was kicking around about him a while ago – this work didn’t grab me quite as much. it reminded me of a george gittoes/albert tucker love child (which is a very, very scary thing). but what i did like was that he was working with medium/substrate that i hadn’t seen him work with before. and the shelving that he had cast was fantastic – a big, dirty, black, scuffy, ominous monolith sticking out from the wall. i heard the darth vader theme in my head as i looked at it.

platform2, degraves st subway, melbourne, making space [and book launch]
it was strange going to the opening at platform tonight. i only knew 2 people – din and anita from platform. and while that sounds pretensious, it probably is, but i’ve become accustomed to going to openings and knowing at least a couple of others there.
the opening was the launch of making spaces, a book and state-wide focus on artist-run-spaces in victoria. the victorian galleries have a far greater solidarity and community with each other than the NSW ones do, and it was nice to watch people from a variety of spaces working together for this event. the whole program has been made possible through federal and state funding and the big wigs were there – including the federal arts minister, the director of the visual arts board of ozco and a swag of others from arts victoria. read: big fucking deal. i didn’t feel comfortable enough to stick around for the speeches, but i did sample the fine sushi, the real orange juice (are you reading people – orange juice is what i like to drink at openings! just ‘cos i don’t drink alcohol, doesn’t mean i don’t like flavour in my drinks too!) and checked out the great show of works in the cabinets. it gave me a few great ideas for next year too. i bought a book and then scooted off. knowing that i would gradually get to know people at a later date, hopefully.

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a gallery per day: april

ok, so regular readers of this blog will know that i regularly talk about the exhibitions i’ve seen, but it’s a little random (in keeping with the nature of this blog in general). well, now that my life is full of unstructured time and plenty of time to see exhibitions and write about them, i’ve had fuck-all opportunity to do so.

one of my plans once i get to london, is to visit a gallery per day and write about it. maybe not just here, maybe also in my journal/sketchbook/letters to mum. but that’s the plan.

so far, i’ve failed miserably this month to achieve anything close to that, but i’m going to get the ball rolling and write about what i have seen so far. i’m hoping to keep these things more snippety (new word!) so that they’re easy to digest. and ‘cos i won’t have time/can’t be arsed downloading/uploading too many pics on my travels either.

here are the galleries I’ve managed so far.

First Draft.
In my last week in Sydney, i hoped to squeeze in visits to 2 of my favourite artist-run-spaces and check out the shows. The First Draft show (which is probably over by now, so go to the opening of the next one, will you!), was another full house. There was Group Show, a 4-artist group show in the main gallery and back room, and Zombie, by Emma Ramsey & Anna John.

Most of the work on display was really engaging, although i had to move past the flickering fluorescent work in the front to get to it. I wanted to shatter that fucking thing. Maybe that’s the expected response, but i really don’t like art that annoys the fuck out of me on a basic level. If i want to be annoyed like that, i’ll hang out with a 2-year old. However, Aaron Seeto‘s work was really great – much more interesting than his eggs. I really liked the presentation of the oxidises metal sheets, including how they were glued onto the shelf. I know, I’m a geek.
The other work i really liked in the show was the video work in the end room, by Huseyin Sami, documenting the artist painting with his feet. It highlighted how much i take my dexterity for granted. I was amazed at the brush he was using, developed specifically for the purpose (and marvelled at how i could possibly think about using a shit $2 brush ever again!) and also at the significance of being bound in the way he was – not just about function, but also a reminder at how our able-bodied advantages can also trap us into a well-worn way of thinking/looking/doing.

MOP
Helena Leslie, who does the most amazing paper works, was exhibiting in the Project room at MOP. The execution of her work is so fucking far from mine (‘cos i’m ostensibly a lazy person, although i like to say i’m efficient) but i completely love it, because of that reason. The works, which are pinhole pricked ‘lace’ patterns into paper are exquisite, in every sense of the word.
I brought my mum to the opening and she also loved it. That’s usually a reason to run a mile, but my mum has good taste, i promise. I sadly said ‘cheerio’ to a Ron and George and i look forward to popping into the space on my travels in the future.

I’m hoping to pop into other Sydney galleries when i’m there next week, but unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll get the chance. So, farewell Sydney and all the nice people who are part of the scene there.

69 Smith St
According to the 69 Smith St website, “Clive Stratford’s recent paintings stem from reflections on having lived half of one’s life-as Dante said: “Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi ritrovai per ona selva oscura…”
“In the middle of our life I found myself in a dark wilderness…” These reflections concern loss, regret, betrayal, love and faith.

Although this ‘gallery visit’ was a bit of a cheat, i only had a chance to look through the very large front window/door, I’m glad i stopped and gazed. The works, for me, also reflected loss, regret, betrayal, etc in masculinity. A lot of the icons, symbols and models used in the paintings were poignant in their masculinity (like a todd mcmillan photo, rather than a chippendales calendar).

I’m off to see David Shrigley at Kings ARI later today and hopefully I’ll be able to check out the Australian Impressionism show at NGV before i leave. You will hear about them.

PS – Don’t forget, if you’re in Sydney next Tuesday night and not sure what to do with yourself the night before a public holiday, come to Kudos Gallery, the opening of He Said, She Said.

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end game

another gallery dies in a regional town. another victory for apathetic citizens in satellite cities who are too lazy to care whether their town is a cultural backwater.

the little field office on 255 king

field gallery is closing after 6 years. in the heart of newcastle NSW, this is the second gallery to close in as many years, thanks to the directors being completely overworked and having minimal support, either financially or culturally, from their local residents, councils or media.

field is ace! i organised the recent exchange between project and field and it was a fantastic opportunity to share common experiences, to gain some insight, to travel somewhere different and expose our artwork to a new audience. the gallery was really well organised and in an awesome position. the directors were all fantastic girls and ran a tight ship, with studios out the back really supporting the local contemporary scene.

now, thanks to no money, and fuck all support, they’re closing.

their final challenge show, end game opens this week and i put a work in. don’t go to the opening because it will just be crushing if hundreds of people rock up at the end and they’re all left wondering where the hell you have all been for the last 6 months.

scene viscera, patient: gallery, field.

RIP. here’s hoping newcastle can recover from the loss of such a great space.

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come early or come often?

two possibly unrelated aspects about this ol’ art game have struck me today.

firstly, i popped into the AGNSW today for a quick visit. primarily to pick up my free copy of the SMH-as i’m attempting to save for a trip to london by not buying the paper or coffee – my two major vices since giving up smoking. anyway, while i was there, i thought i’d pop in to check out the James Angus show, which i mistakenly thought was at Agnes (getting my angus and my agnes mixed up), rather than across the ditch at MCA. in having a quick scout around at the contemporary collection and a little peek into the shop before having to shoot back to work, i wondered if i was committing an artcrime in just ‘popping in’ to the gallery.

must one always spend a long time with the work, or will a lunchtime quickie do as well?

of course i spend other times lovingly in galleries for extended periods of time, paying close attention to all the ins and outs, but surely my appreciation for what’s out there is enhanced by a quick peck every now and again. surely it’s about keeping it exciting by having both kinds of experience. right?

and speaking of experiences, i might even take this whole thing a little further and spend the rest of my working weeks before christmas seeing one piece each day i pick up my paper. fully reacquaint myself with the collection and maybe even fall in love with some obscure work from the pre-raphelites that i’ve usually balked at. this could be the beginning of summer lovin’ lunchtime styles!

and speaking of summer lovin’, i think i’m about to jump on the robert hughes bandwagon after seeing the interview with andrew denton tonight.

i must confess that i never fell in love with ol’ hughesy when everyone else was. i was rebelliously reading bachellard and beckett when i should have read bob. and i have a feeling it’s time to repent.
something about his demeanour reminded me of francis bacon – something about the swingin’ 60s, british cad kind of thing, and having fallen in love with frank a while back, it’s time to borrow, or buy the shock of the new. having being introduced to mr hughes the first time around the time of american visions and that ol’ accident, i’m going to avoid that phase until i’ve convinced myself that he’s actually worth pursuing.

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