Never a Wrong Time for Fiona Hall

“Time is marching on, but we seem to be going the other way”
Fiona Hall

IMG_3837 IMG_3836 IMG_3850 Fiona Hall was a very early influence on the way I thought about art.  I had first seen her work “Dead in the Water” at the Art Gallery of NSW more than 15 years ago in a group exhibition and can’t recall the theme of the exhibition. She had drilled small holes in plastic piping and suspended them in a glass tank. I was impressed with the way she was able to get her message across and the skill in presentation. She was selected to represent Australia in the 2015 Venice Biennale and the show, Wrong Way Time, was displayed at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra along with her earlier works in the NGA collection.

 

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The exhibition reminded me of her early exquisite drawings over bank notes that had made me first explore the qualities of gouache. Her ability ranges from the attention to the minutae to large sculptural installations such as Folly for Mrs Macquarie.

The trip to the gallery reminded me of much I drew from her work and the idea of always experimenting with materials. The play may not come to fruition but there is never a wrong way.

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Musicians Love Dogs and Writers Love Cats

I am reposting this art quiz I created years ago. Time flies! Just click on the How much is that doggie in the window link below and give it a try. It anonymous and if you took the quiz all that time ago- how’s the memory?

The inspiration for it came from this article by Emily Temple that recently linked from one of my blogs about David Hockney.

I’m a dog person so I think that means I can’t write (or perhaps shouldn’t).

This week my library pick up was wonderful Dogs in Australian Art by Steven Miller. Does it get any better – art and puppies in one book, and it’s not heavy! But wait it gets better. My favourite artist Noel McKenna has my breed of dog -SNAP! (here’s a work he did based on lost dog posters)

Tim Storrier brought his dog Smudge to share in his glory of the win at the  Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery NSW so I have decided to share the love and do another quiz – I know about time! This time it centres around doggies and artists. Don’t worry I have another quiz especially for cat-lovers here

Take a stab: How Much is that Doggie in the Window?

Velasquez and I Cook Eggs

IMG_3214Inspiration comes in packages of all shapes, sizes and compositions.  Recently I was gobsmacked by Velasquez Old Woman Cooking Eggs. There was a dynamism in the figures and objects and how they related to each other both in colour and shape.  As a result a new series of small works in gouache provided impetus for bigger and better things.  The serendipity of reading John Olsen’s biography whilst working on the series, also laid another level.

The egg, a symbol of hope and regeneration that he saw in Velasquez, carried into his work and as a result into mine. I could see a jelly-fish-like symbol in the slithery par-cooked egg whites that could transfer into compositions for my boatshed works.

 

Velasquez: Old Woman Cooking Eggs.

Velasquez: Old Woman Cooking Eggs.

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Keeping LeWitts About You

IMG_2162Just because I throw paint about, dollop it on, scrape it around and don’t clean my brushes or studio does not mean I don’t like order.  This weekend, like a mixed media artist in a storm, there was a smattering of everything; Opera, wildlife photography, stuffed birds, dinosaurs, treasures from an Afghan tomb, a Google train and Sol Le Witt.

It is no surprise LeWitt was drawn to the work of Australian indigenous artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye.  They both have a clarity of finished work with layers of meaning pushed and kept under tight reign behind simple lines, a bit like an expertly wrapped parcel held with a piece of string that once pulled will expose a world that could be changed. You know it exists behind that string and it is far more beautiful kept in tact this way.

Detail Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Detail Emily Kame Kngwarreye

Detail LeWitt Wall drawing in progress

Detail LeWitt Wall drawing in progress

LeWitt was like cleaning off the palette, putting up a new canvas. His work cleans your mind.  The Biennale of Sydney had an unnerving edge to some of the exhibits leaving some heaviness like gunked up brushes. Don’t get me wrong, I like the gunk – it has layers to think about and who doesn’t love the Google Train, but Sol LeWitt has a crispness of mind I envy.  I want those clean brushes.

Once again we have John Kaldor to thank for introducing Emily to Sol.  He definitely has match-making skills.

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Exhibition: Your Mind is Exactly at That Line

Exhibition: Your Mind is Exactly at That Line

 

Painted Bacon

Art Gallery of NSW

Art Gallery of NSW

I was in the zone. That magic moment when you are deep within the work in front of you. I hadn’t expected that of Bacon.  The Art Gallery of New South Wales luckily could fit the letters of his name nicely between the columns and I like that drama of a new exhibition. I love the crossing directly in front of the gallery and when I stepped out alone, no cars, no crowds and mounted the stairs I had that inkling it was to be wonderful.

Francis Bacon Study of Human Figure after Muybridge

Study from the Human Body after Muybridge 1988 Francis Bacon

I had done my homework: read a little, been to an Anthony Bond (director of International art  AGNSW) talk weeks before, downloaded an app and was ready to take what Francis Bacon could dish up.  Like Bacon when I first saw Muybridge’s work I felt compelled to work from his studies of the human form so going in, I wanted to see  that connection.

I had just been to the APT7 in Brisbane and coming down from that artphoria and I wasn’t prepared to be scooped up once more. This time it was good old-fashioned use of paint and there was something Fred Williams-like in large flat expanses of pure thin colour and small slashes of sculptured coloured marks, in Bacon’s case fleshy pinks and whitish greys. His influence on Whiteley was blindingly obvious and I too became absorbed. I felt his fascination with Muybridge and Russian film the The Battleship Potemkin. But it was in Triptych 1987 where his intense brilliant orange ground captured the intensity of Frederico Lorca’s words in “Lament for Ignazio Sanchez Mejias” a matador’s death that gave a clue to depth and passion of his work.

When the bull ring was covered with iodine at five in the afternoon

Death laid eggs in the wound at five in the afternoon

Francis Bacon Dog

Untitled (dog) c1967 Francis Bacon

A great exhibition and one that I have definitely learnt from.  I feel the need to re-visit some of my earlier works on Muybridge and perhaps begin to introduce colour and scale and move on from the smaller studies of individual plates.

Plate 13 from Muybridge Studies

Plate 13 from Muybridge Studies

Spanish Poets, Bacon, Whisson and Me

I still can’t make up my mind if it’s the hippy mentality of “It all has to mean somethin’ man” or there is a quantifiable reason behind it.

Today Anthony Bond, curator of International Art talked about the upcoming Francis Bacon exhibition. Once again a link pops up – this time by the way of Frederica Lorca poetry.

Less than a week ago I was flicking through a book of Lorca’s poetry laid on a table in the Ken Whisson AS IF show.

 

 

 

So here it is, an elegy for a Spanish Bullfighter.

At Five in the Afternoon

At five in the afternoon.
It was exactly five in the afternoon.
A boy brought the white sheet
at five in the afternoon.
A frail of lime ready prepared
at five in the afternoon.
The rest was death, and death alone
at five in the afternoon.

And so the path continues, it was Whiteley led me to Bacon, Bacon led me to Muybridge and no doubt that path will cross others and meander back to the start.

Biennale Sydney: All Our Relations..at least you can pick your friends

Li Hongbo on Cockatoo Island

I was excited at the presentation of the new Sydney Biennale: All Our Relations. I blogged it. This last weekend I visited.

I think the verdict is still out for me. It’s a bit like Christmas, you get a hint of a present but when it’s unwrapped it was far better in your imagination.  Maybe I need to play with it a bit.

But that really isn’t fair, some works were amazing and exceptional and I love the hype and the discussion over works.

After a whirlwind of Cockatoo Island, Art Gallery of NSW and Museum Contemporary Art it was more like Christmas dinner, a lot to digest. Perhaps a post-visit nap is in order.

Later all our relations will go home and we’ll have fond memories of them.

Kevin Connor, a charcoal crush.

Kevin Connor’s work in the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW reminded me of charcoal. Glimpses underneath his paint.

These charcoal sketches show the hullaballoo that is the Archibald Prize -the delivery of artwork, the parade of work in front of trustees, the hang.

On the train home, reading an article of his commission by Art & Australia to document the process of  the Archibald Prize, I was feeling the pangs of that first love affair with an artist. When you get that spark of connection.

It was however, his portrait of  sculptor Robert Klippel that I refer to as my “lightning bolt moment”. The realisation that space within a painting was paint itself, that drawing and paint were one and that drawing didn’t end when painting began.

From that moment in art school I read more on his work and found that the spark did not dull and his figurative works that had initially drawn me now led to his city-scapes in oil.

Portrait of Robert Klippel 1977He has been an unending influence on my work. I noticed how in this early clumsy figurative study. I was already exploring space as a direct result from looking at his work (as per notes on the back).

His landscapes are just as fresh, they are quintessentially Australian in their use of light and space and his current work in the Wynne (as pictured in my blog I Am Not an Island)

His city scenes of Haymarket in ink are legendary but I love this oily early work,   Morning Near Taylor Square 1983. (from Paintings & Drawings AGNSW Catalogue 1947-1988)

Musicians Love Dogs and Writers Love Cats

I am reposting this art quiz I created almost 4 years ago. Time flies! Just click on the How much is that doggie in the window link below and give it a try. It anonymous and if you took the quiz 4 years back- how’s the memory?

The inspiration for it came from this article by Emily Temple that recently linked from one of my blogs about David Hockney.

I’m a dog person so I think that means I can’t write (or perhaps shouldn’t).

This week my library pick up was wonderful Dogs in Australian Art by Steven Miller. Does it get any better – art and puppies in one book, and it’s not heavy! But wait it gets better. My favourite artist Noel McKenna has my breed of dog -SNAP! (here’s a work he did based on lost dog posters)

Tim Storrier brought his dog Smudge to share in his glory of the win at the  Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery NSW so I have decided to share the love and do another quiz – I know about time! This time it centres around doggies and artists.

Take a stab: How Much is that Doggie in the Window?