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!

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