exhibition tramp and great pick-up lines*

* channelling the wonderful art pimp

so last thursday night was art-opening mania in sydney. i had a choice of craigie horsfield and stephen birch at MCA; david griggs, carla cescon and hiroharu mori at artspace; ben quilty at grantpirrie or elizabeth reidy and
Alex Gereg at MOP. and somehow i managed to squeeze in 3 out of 4 of them and still get the 8:38 train from central!

carla cescon,night crawlers & shape-shifters: 100 days and nights in search of the ramones
thanks to artspace sydney website

i’m glad i have the opportunity to pop into artspace again easily, ‘cos i only managed to really scoot around the gallery before getting a lift to redfern. the david griggs pieces are quite imposing and i’ve not seen his work so.. solid before. the paintings are mounted on huge free-standing frames, like billboards for the maniacally repressed. they’re really quite amazing works, and although i can get really over the whole mish-mash po-mo fiasco, these works seem quite profound. i didn’t get a chance to check out the Mori video piece, will do later this week and the Cescon Ramones stuff, well, i really didn’t like it. Although i appreciate the intention of showing fan obsession and possibly teenage angst, it’s too close to the bone for me. The Ramones saved me from full-blow teen angst and I believe they’re one of the greatest bands ever. However, I don’t know if wall scrawl and love-hearts over their posters really constitutes the kind of aesthetic enquiry i like from a contemporary exhibition.

ben quilty,joe
thanks to grantpirrie website

after scoring a lift to redfern, i decided to go to grantpirrie first ‘cos MOP was on my way back home and i thought there would be less people there. as i predicted, the ben quilty show was pa-acked! it was a reasonably warm night, so most people were out on the footpath, sipping vino. inside it wasn’t as squished as i thought, but it was still pretty tight.
it was an opportunity to check out the goop up close and personally, and maybe get a glimpse of a painting from a wide view, if you were lucky. if you want to see what the show really looks like, go and see it during the week – you can actually stand back and see the works from afar. i’ve never really liked quilty’s combination of spray paint and oils, but over the week, thinking about it, the way he’s used it for shadow in the portraits, it’s grown on me.

my highlight for the night was actually watching a little girl check out one of the paintings. she would have been about six and was wriggling about in a half-dance, like little kids do and the way she looked at the work was enlightening (especially seeing as i’d earlier watch Sir Ken Robinson on education at TED): she would go right in close to the painting, look at it sideways, then the other way, step back, have a think and do it all again. i was so busting to ask her what she thought, but she skipped off to hang out with her parents before i had the chance.

elizabeth reidy,box of broken dreams
thanks to mop website

after having a quick chat with a few of the ladies present (hi jesse, hi katrina, hi iz!), i popped in really quickly to see my friend dave who lives around the corner, only to walk back up the street with him on his way to the bottle shop. so i went back to MOP to see liz’s work in the project room: Box of Broken Dreams. I really enjoyed it. The connection with Nirvana Unplugged might have been slightly lost on me, seeing as I thought that album was tripe and would gladly have sacrificed dreams for it to never see the light of day.
Alas, I digress. The image of Liz as a ballerina was fantastic and i could have watched it for hours. She easily conveyed a sense of loss and childhood expectations without the fru-fru (except the tutu).

Alex’s paintings, Galactic Adventures in the main room didn’t really interest me. Perhaps this is because I don’t have a huge interest in garishly coloured graphic novels, or references to 3D movies or bad screen printing. Perhaps it’s because I’m a closed-minded opinionated bitch.

I don’t mean to sound quite so harsh, but i promised myself that when i started this blog that i was going to be honest. not mean and nasty, just honest and if that hurts people’s feelings, well, it hurts peoples feelings. None of my opinions, by the way, are a reflection of how I feel about my own work or whether my own work is, in fact, up to scratch either. At the end of the day, opinions are just opinions, i guess.

Anyway, as an aside to all that, on saturday i went up to artspace again (although still managed to not see Hiroharu’s work) to attend the screening of Multiple City, a documentary about the project in Panama City by Gerado Mosquera, curator from the New Museum in Havana. It was such an amazing film and perfectly timed, considering my impending research on guerilla works. After the screening and questions, i really wanted to ask Senor Mosquera more questions. so i did what i’ve never done before, i asked for his email address! i felt like i was asking someone for their digits in a club, but it was fine! I told him about my research and he said he’d be happy to speak with me more about it! yay! here comes some interesting progress.. eep!

so much for jaded, cynical cow then, hey.

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

she sees wedd

there are two great shows at the wollongong city gallery at the moment, and with the opportunity to make a geeky pun out of it, there was no way i wasn’t going to blog about it.

gerry wedd, arcadia
thanks to wollongong city gallery

gerry wedd, one time designer for mambo, has work in amongst the mann-tatlow asian collection, taking the piss out of the pieces, in his show chinese whispers. well, actually he’s giving them the cheeky aussie referential treatment that’s actually based in a deep love, understanding and respect for the pieces. he researched and specifically worked from the pieces in the wollongong collection and the white and blue ceramic pieces are well-crafted and accurately replicate the traditional white and blue look of the historic asian artworks. Jung dynasty works featuring paddy workers, mountainous landscapes and fiery dragons have been recreated to feature aussies in thongs, steelworks, kangaroos and other local references. my description of wedd’s work makes it sound incredibly twee, but the work is actually fantastic.

michael zavros,secret men’s business
thanks to gallery shubert website

the other great show in the gallery at the moment is michael zavroségoiste. i have always loved michael zavros’ paintings of masculinity, finesse and excess. the first work i ever saw was his secret men’s business in sebastian at hazelhurst – my boss and i stood in front of the work for 5 minutes straight, drooling.

in this show, zavros’ exhibits a range of works on lavish excess. the small and exquisite paintings included my favourite from the show: the gorgeous image of the row of suit jackets in the exclusive mens’ store. the large drawings included amazing photorealist works of Versailles and the Salvatore Ferragamo shoe bags. The centrepiece of the show was a striking image of a centaur, yves saint laurent le smoking/baywith the human body being that of a gorgeously dressed young man. Unfortunately, i couldn’t help but find similarities between that and Peter Churcher‘s homo-erotic centaurs, so it lost a bit of its lustre.

michael zavros,milano interior/monetti emporium/i do not want what i haven’t got
thanks to www.michaelzavros.com

zavros’ work is amazing and although i don’t usually go ga-ga over realist works, i go ga-ga over his. something about the crisp masculinity about his works are so attractive! and, like todd mcmillan, he’s an artist that actually investigates and represents men and masculinity in an authentic way, actually featuring men. as opposed to the ‘masculinity’ of, say, manet‘s olympia.

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mr and mrs smith

mr and mrs smith has such a nice ring to it, don’t you think? that’s good because i think i’m going to have to marry sam smith.
it’s been decided.
not in any real way – hell, i’m sure he’s a nice guy, but i don’t know him from a bar of soap – but his artistic concept, craftmanship, technique and production is so hot that on an artistic level, i think i’m in love.

sam smith, video camera[hdw-f9000/3]
thanks to the grantpirrie website

so i went and checked out the sam smith show at grant pirrie yesterday morning, obviously.
plus i revisited the anne landa award at AGNSW to sit down and watch as much as i could of Monika Tichacek’s The Shadowers, which Sam edited. (Not to mention his rockin’ work on the Soda_Jerk stuff I already raved about on this blog a few months ago).

The grantpirrie show was amazing. The video work when you first walk in is too much to handle as an intro, but head into the main nave and the three wooden sculptures are instantly divine. I’m so into finely crafted wood at the moment it’s ridiculous, but Sam’s pieces are amazing. Made from ply (maybe even marine ply?), there was a huge video camera, dripping green-ness, a cathode tube (with an actual tv screen attached) and a miniature tv/film set with a surveillance camera attached. (Plus 2 video works on the walls and a relay screen – although i’m going to come back to them later). Even without the references to the video work in the rest of the show, these sculptures are amazing pieces of art, aesthetically beautiful and poignant in their displacement/realignment of accessible objects.

I know separating the two is not how the show should be reviewed, but i just had to have a bit of a drool over the craft first.

But it’s the combination of the craft of the pieces and the exquisite sharpness of the video works that really make Sam Smith’s show a killer. The seemingly opposite ends of the technological scale make for a balance that supports the theoretical investigations in his work. And those are beautiful as well. The video works really highlight the pervasiveness of video technology and analyse the idea of transportation through the video medium – superimposition, transformation through effects and image manipulation.

The fluoro green and blue of the green/blue-screen make a regular appearance as the signifier of Sam’s ideas and he’s managed to elevate it to an objective or system in its own right now, rather than just a handy technogical development. The green-screen is the epitome of how modern audiences are transformed through images, no longer through the canvas, welded steel or a nice piece of paper – it’s all about being super-imposed.

And after playing with the ‘set’ of Film Still with its real time feed and what felt like a throwback to Fischli and Weiss sausages, having your perception challenged by disappearing doors, flying streets signs and rising rigs of the amazingly crisp and lusciousStreet Still; then drooling over the dribbling fluoro of Video Camera, then and only then, check out the blue-screen video work at the front, Gallery Split. Not only have you had time to absorb the rest of the shows look, feel and concepts which make sense in this work, but then the irony and tongue-in-cheek aspect of the work (apparently created 2 days before the opening) will become apparent.

The little fold-out catalogue of the show was equally impressive and i’m looking forward to reading the essay by Dan Angeloro when i’ve got a bit of time up my sleeve.

Monika Tichacek, The Shadowers
Thanks to artspace (sydney)

And just to give a quick glance to Sam Smith’s other work that i checked out yesterday, Monika Tichacek‘s The Shadowers as part of the Anne Landa Award. I had seen most of the exhibition before, but because it was the award-winning work, you couldn’t get in to see the work to save you on opening night. And despite it being at Artspace for a month, i hadn’t seen it there either, having been too traumatised by the daily screams filtering up to our office. So finallly i had a chance to check out her amazing work.

Given the level of stylised, Matthew Barney-esque sex and violence i think i did pretty well – i’m very squeamish about that stuff, so being able to watch 25 of the 35 minute work is a record! The production and look of the work were amazing! Make up and costumes were fantastic and there was an all-star cast of helpers – Shaun Gladwell helped film, Sam Smith edited the work, performance artist Aña Wojak acted in it and Monika did a whole bunch of acting, filming, directing, make up, etc. If you haven’t had a chance to see it, i can recommend it. And if you’re a little fragile when it comes to the protrayal of sex and violence, maybe take a friend, or do it in two chunks.

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

all art is quite useless

after recently discovering the joy of oscar wilde’s company, i settled in to read the picture of dorian gray and was promptly hit with a preface which reaffirmed a view things, left me feeling like oscar’s disapproval had washed over me and simultaneously amused me at how some things change over time and some just don’t:

the artist is the creator of beautiful things
and should be rewarded accordingly

to reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim
considering that by the time wilde had written Dorian Gray, revealing the artist had long been a practice of art as well, perhaps mr wilde is showing his naivete. however, in terms of an antidote to the uber-ego of some artists, it does OK. where this maxim really shines is as a philosophical pat on the back when an artist is possibly getting lost with the purpose and intention of their work.

the critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things
if this isn’t a basis for which to celebrate artsblogs and artist-run-initiatives like un and runway, then i don’t know what is. to me, this validates artists as valid critics (especially as we’re already creating beautiful things).

it also a reminder that critics are also just creating impressions. that no person’s opinion is anything other than a response or reaction to something.

othewise know as: to reveal art and conceal the critic is criticism’s aim.

the highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography
which effectively makes this blog the lowest of low. not only is it autobiographical, but it is from someone who should be creating beautiful things, but spends most of her time looking at them instead. it does, however, give weight to the argument for objectivity in criticism and for the use of third person/plural pronoun, which has been discussed previously here.

those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. this is a fault.
yeah, perverts.

those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. for these there is hope. they are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.
I think i’m going to post this on my wall. i like being cultivated. i like finding beautiful meanings in beautiful things (as i create them, before i write about them). As to being elect and a capital B on beauty, while i love the idea of thinking about what Beauty is, and personifying it with a capital, these days, i think there are other considerations as well as Beauty that indicate being cultivated.

there is no such things as amoral or immoral book. books are well written or badly written. that is all.
well, not acccording to John Howard’s new sedition laws, but we won’t mention that one shall we!

the nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of caliban not seeing his own face in a glass.
the twenty-first century dislike of contemporary art is the rage of howard not seeing his own face is the mirror.

the nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of caliban seeing his own face in a glass.
the twenty-first century dislike of political art and creative dissent is the rage of howard seeing his own face in a mirror

the moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consits in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.
morals.. hmm.. do habits and choices come under that description?

no artist desires to prove anything. even things that are true can be proved.
whether you like political art or not, as few proper critics seem not to, i don’t think this one is quite so true anymore. even if you’re not trying to prove something overtly politically, you’re trying to prove something conceptually, materially or symbolically. and if not to someone else, at least to yourself [or that nasty teacher in year 9 who said you’d never amount to nothing]. although if artists were rewarded accordingly, perhaps this might be true.

no artist has ethical sympathies. an ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.
please, please, please may john mcdonald, sebastian smee or the artlife not read this blog. they have all argued, at some point, that art which has a bold political or ethical statement is either not worthwhile, or not art. i really don’t want them to be right, because while i’m not a relational aesthete, i firmly, firmly, firmly, believe that art needs to say things that the shitty tabloids don’t. it may not be beautiful with a capital B, but ethical sympathy in an artist is damn sexy! and unpardonable mannerism? isn’t that what post-modernism supposed to be?

no artist is ever morbid. the artist can express everything.
except ethical sympthies, apparently. and there are a few morbid artists, but i guess that can still express. so perhaps the definition for morbidity is not the expression of something depressive, but the depression of an ability to express.

thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.
a shoe in, really. i don’t know any artist, great or awful, who doesn’t, at least at some point, use thought or language of some sort. whether that be material, conceptual or symbolic language, or at least a bit of thought, like ‘maybe if i put this blue here, it will look a bit like the sky’.

vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.
this is a whole other kettle of fish and from a whole other generation, where vice and virtue were even words that you used to describe validity. thankfully, we had the 60s, which turned this whole thing upside down and gave us charming blank canvases, wacky lines all over the place, drug use like you wouldn’t believe and children who love a good mash-up.

from the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. from the point of view of feeling, that actor’s craft is the type.

assuming that rhythm is a description of form, which, as a formalist of sorts (well, sorta), i’m inclined to agree with, i can dig this grand statements about musicians. but i’m sure that wilde isn’t intending to completely osctracise the rest of the arts from being a type of all the arts. perhaps the various boards of the australia council can nut this one out. perhaps it’s just a nice way of saying that musicians and actors, while being completely unhealthy and having the worst sleeping patterns, are still pretty good at floating our boats. vice, virtue and all that jazz aside.

all art is at once surface and symbol.
what a celebrity death match this would be if you had the abstract expressionists vs the symbolists. thankfully surface and symbol aren’t meant quite as literally, otherwise we’d end up with sanctioned art looking like jackson pollock meets james ensor! ew!

those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril
i guess these days, this is for anyone who creates work that isn’t intended to match the sofa. you do so at your own peril, but damn there are a bunch of spunks joining you in it!

those who read the symbol do so at their peril
see above

it is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
i can see the t-shirt now: life immitates audience. i really want one actually.. and a few marketing/advertising mates of mine might dig it too!

diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex and vital.
so, for once all those clashing opinions in the comments section of the artlife are actually right! all of them. by that definition, there’s some interestingly new, complex and vital works. this also proves that a diversity of critical opinion is a vital element of any art scene. whether you like your tabloid, or your Broadsheet, discussion is vital.

when critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself.
now, how to get the critics to disagree…

we can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. the only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.
ah, the ol’ form vs function argument. well, sorry mr wilde, but that one’s been sorted for a good 50 years or so. since bakelite came into town. or maybe i’m wrong. maybe it’s still a discussion we have to have, but i have long forgiven myself for admiring a quirky chair, oh-so-minimal ceramic tea set, pretty much anything at Object or Space

all art is quite useless
here here. great innit?

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

smh is repetitive and the artlife is on the money

evidence as follows:

1. today i read the second review of the Juan Davila show by a SMH ‘arts writer’ in as many weeks!

I mean, he’s great, but, please, it’s a little monotonous!
Do Tracey and John go to any other galleries apart from the MCA?
More to the point, does the arts editor actually read the submissions entering his inbox?

2. the artlife’s poll, (that has been running for far too long now, but anyway) is officially gospel.

the top response to Winning an art competition is is
A way to pay off some credit card debt” at 28%.

Today, Lucy Culliton said, when asked what she was going to spend her winnings from the Portia Geach on said “pay of my credit card debt”!!!*

hmmm.. food for thought.

*[lovingly paraphrased from www.smh.com.au]

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