Friday, January 13, 2017

No.1 Neighbour at QAGOMA

There was only one downside from checking out the show of Papuan art on at the Queensland Art Gallery when the Big Lamington was in Brisbane over summer.  And that was we might have seen our favourite show for 2017 by mid-January!!

Yes, that's right kids I loved it.  The show itself was a bit of a survey, with artists from the 1960's, through to today.  Of course, for those that came in late, Papua New Guinea was once a colony of Australia, getting its independence in 1975.  I grew up hearing fascinating stories of the country as my own father had spent some time working there in the '60s.  You enter through this great lobby with a painted longhouse ceiling (pictured bottom) before going through the different eras in a counter-clockwise direction.  I loved the naive / self-taught style of the art which matched the Tok Pisin (Pidgin English) titles - some examples include Simon Gende's "No 1 Kiap Blong Australia Mr Jim Taylor I brukim bush long Highlands Papua Niugini" (or The first Australian Officer Mr Jim Taylor, in an exploratory mission in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea) or Mathias Kauage's "Man draivim elikopta" (Man flying a helicopter).  I also loved the folk art where folks had used brightly coloured yarn in place of traditional fibres for bags (pictured below) and also incorporated art onto traditional shields (pictured top).  Quite a lot of commercial themes seeped into this folk art, whether tribes were outright sponsored by SP Lager or whether they just enjoyed it wasn't entirely clear.  A Big Lamington favourite, Eric Bridgeman also made an appearance (pictured above) with his group of wheelbarrow shields "Kuman Pawa" (shield power) which take this symbol of the Highland identity and manhood (the shields) and tweak it ever so slightly.  To me, this is contemporary art done well.  The sincerity of the work really shines through, never mind that they would also look absolutely fabulous in my tiki bar!

Points:  could be a first but the 3 goes to "Unidentified Artist" who did both the shields in the top photo (I am guessing that they are indeed separate artists but you get the point).  2 points to Eric Bridgeman, loved the upcycled shieldbarrows.  1 point to Sifas Morea for the Boroko Motors yarn bag (pictured above), turns out I am a sucker for naive product placement!  Highly commended to the folks who did the inside roof of the gallery, an amazing Tiki style extravaganza.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Jonny Niesche at Minerva - 9 July

And kicking off the 2016 posts is an old favourite of the Big Lamington, Jonny Niesche.  He has a solo show on at Minerva Gallery until 23 July.  I managed to duck in whilst on my way to the Bourke St Bakery (where the spiced quince cake comes highly recommended!).  I'm ready for this Jonny.  Dazzle me.

Because you are always going to be dazzled at a Jonny Niesche show.  And in at least 2 ways.  Firstly its the visuals.  Very bright, alluring, great use of vibrant colour.  And secondly you are always going to be mindblown by the titles.  Jonny loves him a bit of philosophy and I am always struggling to catch up with where he is off to.  This show is called Cosmos Cosmetics.  And to any punter on the street that makes absolutely no sense.  But go read the essay by Amelia Groom (it is also online) and it starts to make it a little clearer.  Both words come from the same Greek root Cosmos which translates as ornament and order (or so I am told).  Amelia also quotes the French (obviously) philosopher Michel Serres who brings the concepts of veils into the whole adornment and order debate.  Which is my way of segueing to the use of materials here.  I didn't realise it until I got into the second room (pictured top) that the artist is effectively wrapping a thin semi transparent fabric that has been digitally printed with colour over a steel frame which he has also painted.  It's a neat trick and at the same time references his earlier glitter works which used varying colours of the spectrum so well.  I preferred the rectangles to the odd shapes, but hey, I am a traditionalist at heart!  Alongside the veiled works are some sculptures scattered around the place.  You can see one (I think it is "haptic rule of thumb" in the gallery shot above).  These are auto paint (officially 'vibrance prismatic flake auto paint') on steel.  Again, I can see how he has developed from the glitter sticks (which I loved by the way) to these.  Although I can't shake the thought that they look like over sized swizzle sticks.  But that is probably because I always have swizzle sticks on my mind.  The gallery attendant thought this show was a real step forward in Jonny's work and I can kind of see that.  Although I am nostalgic for a bit of glitter as well.  I hope we haven't seen the last of that weapon from his armoury.  Job done Jonny, a great show and a good way for me to ease back into the blogging game.  Now what is that schtick I do for every show?  Oh, yes - points ....

Points:  3 points to "... that was not first in the bouquet" (top right) and 2 points to its partner in crime "There is nothing in language ..." (top left).  1 point will go to "moving through atmospheres" (above on the wall).  This is great to look at on the gallery website, as when you scroll down the art moves from side to side given the off centre properties of the steel parallelogram he is using.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Back, and bigger than ever!

I ran out of gas! I got a flat tire! I didn’t have change for cab fare! I lost my tux at the cleaners! I locked my keys in the car! An old friend came in from out of town! Someone stole my car! There was an earthquake! A terrible flood! Locusts! IT WASN’T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD!

I know. I know.  Excuses, excuses.  And again points if you know who's excuse I am lifting here without resorting to Dr. Google.  I have been busy.  Busy doing what?  None of your damn business.  But I am back on the art trail kids.

So keep checking back for new posts.  And keep your fingers crossed for Christopher.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Sydney Contemporary - 10-13 September

Okay, so the we'd done the online preview, now for the real deal.  I had 2 visits to Sydney Contemporary this year.  Thursday night where I met up with my in-laws and then I took the Friday off from work to see all the stands at my leisure.  Let's recap the fun of the fair ...

First the good.  It is chock a block full of galleries.  And you would feel like you were missing out if you weren't there.  I went to a talk this year which was quite good (Talent Borrows / Genius Steals) and I must say the food and drink are quite decent, although don't bother on Thursday night as it is a shit fight in the queue's, it's much more bearable for Friday lunch!  The bad?  Well, I'd ponied up for the VIP ticket this year, and that was pretty much a waste of money.  The good stuff still sells out first thing.  And the emergence of other fairs such as Spring 1883 does seem to have robbed Sydney Contemporary of the really cutting edge galleries.  I was only wowed by a couple of spaces this time.  My top pick of the galleries for their total output was probably Michael Reid.  I liked his Joan Ross video up front, the Christopher Pease paintings (pictured below) and, although I think they are pretty pricey, I don't mind the Christian Thompson's photos.  I also loved his tribal urban stand where they had some PNG artefacts combined with Samuel Tupou's bright works and another random Joan Ross piece.  Sophie Gannon also had a strong showing, but that was mainly due to the Danie Mellor wall.  A couple of great photos on silver paper and these perfectly sized circular works (example pictured above) which would've been my purchase had they still been available.  If you were following my tweets (and obviously you should) then you would also recognise the piece up top.  Reko Rennie's Crest was one of my favourites and despite the strong pitch to my parents in law they didn't take my advice!

So with the highlights (and lowlights) checked off, now lets run through some other artists that I noticed and some other random rantings.  Kawita Vatanajyankur's video Squeezers (below) was good.  I thought Phil Shaw's Frequently Asked Questions photo was witty.  I enjoyed the vibrant impact Dani Marti's wall sculptures of reflectors made.  I thought the big Ben Quilty install at Jan Murphy was suitably awe inspiring, but mainly from a size perspective.  David Booth's Tokyo Tickets was restrained and interesting.  Bruce Makowsky's branded hand grenades caught the eye as did a few of the Greg Semu photos.  Especially the one where, to borrow a phrase from Ali G, he really looked to be knobbing her!  Final rant would be the inclusion of galleries that only really traffic in the secondary market like Justin Miller.  Can we please support living artists?  I realise Tim Storrier isn't dead yet but quite a lot of his stable was.

Points:  Three points for Reko's Crest.  Easily my top pick.  I will upgrade Josh Azzarella's 1 preview point to 2 as his video work (once I found it) was great.  And you could use your iPhone to take a snippet with no questions asked (refer to the topic of the talk I went to).  Lastly Danie Mellor will take the one point, not that he really needs the extra recognition but I think it was great to have a selection of smaller works available at a fair setting.  Starting at $900 for the tiny ones and working up to over $10k is some clever merchandising.  See you in 2 years!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sydney Contemporary - coming up!

As you were, art lovers!  The Fair is back in town.  Is the Big Lamington fired up?  You bet.  After a couple of busy months on the M&A front we are taking a well deserved day of annual leave on Friday to get amongst the good stuff at Sydney Contemporary 2015.  So be sure and come back on Sunday to see the hits and misses, or even find us on twitter to get uninformed reactions in 140 characters or less.

In a new twist, the folks from Sydney contemporary have put the whole (or at least a lot) of the art up on the web beforehand.  Bold move.  Pre-sales must have done well!  It's hard to judge with all the scrolling and zooming required but looks like some interesting stuff on show.  Some favourites are there, recognised Liam Benson at arterial, Nana Ohnesorge at pompom, Joan Ross and even Greg Semu (picked up the 2 points at Sydney Contemporary 2013).

A few new names caught my eye.  Great to see Palmer Art Projects exhibiting, and their stable looks good.  Will be checking them out.  Good to see some NZ galleries making the trek to the West Island and it was great to see Michael Reid find one of my own creations from the early 80's, pictured below.  It's not?  Oh apologies, but that is Marc Etherington rocking the He-Man homage!

Preview points:  What can I say, one of my favourite cartoons growing up.  Marc, you get the 3 preview points!! And that is a very realistic Beastman no matter what the other critics say.  2 preview points will go to the Connor Brothers for their witty use of text in art (pictured second from bottom).  1 preview point will go to Josh Azzarella for his untitled video work (pictured second from top).  Will be very interested to see this as the source material, Hitchcock's North by Northwest from the looks of it, is probably my favourite movie of all time (okay after Star Wars).  As a random aside, I retraced the steps of this movie when I lived in the US.  Starting at the Plaza Hotel, to the UN, Chicago and then to Rapid City South Dakota for Mount Rushmore.  Highly recommended!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Visible Storage at Artbank - 11 July.

So Artbank has moved. Ostensibly to a more retail friendly precinct, although I think that the whole Danks Street area has has never really lived up to the early hype.  One of the benefits of the new space is they have a gallery area where they are now putting on shows from the stockroom.  Their latest is called Visible Storage (I get it) and features over 200 works on yellow walls, cause why not, yellow.

Artspace says this show contains emerging, mid-career and established.  Known and unknown.  Although, it leans a little more heavily to the unknown to this punter.  And the room sheet is pretty hard to navigate with show this big.  On the recognisable front I clocked a Mitch Cairns and a Michael Lindeman.  I recognised the Cairns from my tour to Artbank a few years ago.  Liked them both and you could rent them together for $550 for the year.  Actually that was the deal for this show, any 2 works were just over 5 hungy. 3 works $770, 5 works for $1,100 and you are getting the picture this scale went right up to $27,500 for the whole room!  That sounds like a good deal but upon getting home and taking a spin around the leasing part of their website you'll find quite a few works for under $200.  Not bad.  They were a few empty spaces - Artspace is letting you walk off with the art and they are putting a small notice in its place - although I get the feeling that is not necessarily the whole point of the exercise from Artbank's perspective, just making some of their stored works visible I guess!

Points:  To be honest I was a little overwhelmed with the choice on offer so I am going straight to the short list.  3 points for Paul White's 'Just off Sunset' 2007 (middle), I love a good illustrated panel van!  And I am also a  sucker for text in art, so 2 points for Matthew Hunt's text heavy 'Heartfield' series from 2006 (selection above).  I liked the style of 'Back Lash' although I would be putting 'Hula Hula' straight in the tiki bar.  Lastly, I am going back to the turn of century for a bit of socialist kitsch.  Graham Blondel taking the 1 point for 'Workers Collective' (pictured top).

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Everything & Nothing at Sarah Cottier - 27 June

Everything and nothing.  Covers a lot of bases really.  Not sure where they were going with this here. Sadly, I only picked up the room sheet and not the essay so I am going to have to wing it ...

For starters it's a good old fashioned group show.  And this being Sarah Cottier it is at the edgier end of the conceptual / commercial spectrum.  The Mikala Dwyer plastic sculpture was interesting, looks good in the gallery but not sure how this see through work would go at home.  That said I'd fit this in more easily than the Tim Bruniges Piano, which is (naturally enough) upright piano sized.  Great to see someone up cycling an old piano - although I am interested that this P.O.A work is an edition of 3!  A firm family favourite (I had all the 3 junior critics with me) was Gemma Smith's 'Radiant Greige' (pictured above).  This was a small work, 34cm x 28cm, but packed quite a visual trick.  At eye level it is half grey / half pink.  Moving up, the work turns pink and moving down it goes grey.  I've tried to show that in the above snaps.  The kids initially didn't think much of it, being grey from their vantage.  But they did think it was cool as it changed colour, and I was kept very busy picking up junior critic after junior critic.  They also liked the Todd McMillan video work but that's the youtube generation for you.  I lean more old school, which means a nice big framed print will appeal to me - and Sarah Mosca has delivered a great abstract one called 'Gestural Ode' (pictured top).

Points:  Gemma is going to take the 3 points here.  Radiant Greige was a family favourite, and I even learnt a new word (greige that is).  2 points for Sarah Mosca's massive 190cm x 155cm print.  Koji Ryui will take 1 point for the Spring sculpture - which was quite a nice little piece and it had a cool plinth.