For the past few months, work has focused on a climate change project.
Simon Schama’s remake of Kenneth Clarke’s book and television documentary series, Civilisation (1969), Civilisations episode 1:3 was screened on SBS TV in 2018. He looks at the work of Pieter Bruegal the Elder (1526-30-1569) at the Kunst Historiches Museum, Vienna amongst other master pieces. Schama refers to three main works, The Gloomy Day (1565), The Return of the Herd (1565) and Hunters in the Snow (1656) all done for the same patron’s house. The narrative is not about nature but rather the philosophical relationships that humankind has with nature and people; that there is a universality to the human experience.
There has been a fundamental shift in the relationship between God/religion – nature – man since the 1500’s. Climate change is an example of a crisis of technology; its impact on nature is undeniable.
The project looks at this shift as it pertains the seasons and contemporary Australian climate. These are the works that the project will be based upon.Hunters in the SnowThe Gloomy Day The Return of the Herd
The dichotomy between what is Australian and what is not Australian is explored by a range of Australian artists at Artspace. They look at ethical, moral, social and historical dimensions amongst others. They are largely challenging the colonial narrative and over-laying it with a First Nations reading of it.
For what is now a pejoritive expression, after former Prime Minister, John Howard used it to embody Australian values, ‘un-Australian’ is now embraced as complimentary. It is addressed head on by various artists especially Soda Jerk in their brilliant film,Terror Nullius. Being un-Australian is a device that is used for political purposes and those who are challenging the status quo. As that changes so does its’ connotations.
It’s always such an insight into cities when you go to small coastal places no matter where you are in the world. On Australia’s mid- north coast around Stuarts Point and Grassy Head where the Macleay River branches out into salt water lakes and the beaches are endless. Which is true of much the coastline as well.
Stuarts Point is a stand out as the old beach/holiday houses are so intact and there are so many wonderful DIY touches and details that are so personal and functional like the ones shown here.
National Art School in Darlinghurst, Sydney, held its Class of 2018 Exhibition from 6-16th December 2018. There was some great work and the works were on sale online Here is a selection of works by the talented artists from all disciplines.
He rubbed shoulders and drew exquisite drawings of Van Gogh and yet he is less well known here in Australia. Russell (1858-1930), was fortunate enough to be able to go to the Slade School of Art, London and pursue a career in art following the death of his father. It was timely as he also attended the Atelier Cormon from 1885 to 1887 where a fellow student was Vincent van Gogh. He was in Paris at a formative period when Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin, Claude Monet and others were compatriot artists.
Artspace brings challenging art to the public. In the third of their series, Public Body .03, the contemporary surreal “situates the body as detached from or encompassing much more than mere physical form.” The approach of the curators reference French philosophers Gills Deleuze and Felix Guattari and their theories about rhizomatic inter-connectivity. It goes further with Paul Preciado’s ‘punk hypermodernity’ meaning that the body is “many things” and not easy to classify”
A lot of the show exposes just how much the public has been exposed to through the internet. The artist’s contemporary audience is more exposed and less isolated in previous generations thus work can be more provocative within certain guidelines or provisions such as is evident in this provocative exhibition.
A recent show in Sydney was The Tim Olsen 2018 Drawing Prize at UNSW Art & Design AD Space. The Tim Olsen prize has been running since 2001 and is supported by the Olsen Gallery. Entrants are selected by a panel of lecturers and come from Postgraduate, Honours and Undergraduate students where drawing is a notable part of their practice. The media range from AV to rice to more traditional pencil drawings.
One past and one current show dealing with different aspects of the environment. Louise Morgan‘s show at 220Creative Space had two aspects to her work. The first was about creating work using the environment to do the creating. These exquisite organic pieces of rock shadows and rain fall patterns can guide the viewer towards new relationships with the environment. The other aspect of her work is using computers to generate topographical landscapes which are then cut out and reformed.
The other current Sydney show is at STACKS Projects by Peter Sharp and Brenda Tye. They have been collaborating for 15 years. This show focusses on the monoprint and Eucalypts which are abstracted into new forms.
Two great shows in Sydney approach nature in quite different ways. Todd MacMillan‘s small images of cloudscapes, Preparations for Rain, at Sarah Cottier Gallery, are evocative of romantic Victorian landscapes of the sublime. Instead of adulating a deity of nature though they are wrestling with our own Anthropocene torment of what’s ahead of us. The works are exquisitely moody water colours layered with epoxy resin that are simply enthralling studies of the possibilities of clouds.
A quite different take on nature, is Tamara Dean‘s show at Martin Browne Contemporary. In our Nature, is a “symbolic reminder that we are not separate, nor superior to nature” writes Dean. The large scale colour photos are immersive narratives that draws on her artistic vocabulary of water, vegetation and clothless people. They are choreographed into relationships where there is an equity with nature rather than subservience to it.