Sunday, 19 May 2013
While strolling down Oxford Street a friend showed me The Blue Box Gallery, two public installations mounted in secluded doorways. The wall text states:
The Blue Box Gallery is a gift for Oxford Street. Please respect the artworks and leave them for everyone to enjoy.
If you would like to put something inside the blue box, contact us at email@example.com
There is a tradition in Sydney of 'hole in the wall' galleries that dates back to the early 1980s when artists Marr Grounds, Tony Coleing, Shayne Higson and Bonita Ely pioneered the original 'hole in the wall' exhibition space, in Macdonald Street Paddington, which was then the smallest gallery in the Southern Hemisphere.
This notion of bringing art into the public space and to the attention of those who perhaps would not necessarily seek it out may be a more common-place idea these days but it still surprises me every time I see it. I don't know who is behind The Blue Box Gallery, the sense of anonymity only adding to its allure, but I do hope it continues to expand and grow.
If anyone know of any other locations where The Blue Box Gallery has popped up drop me a line and let me know.
Sunday, 12 May 2013
Your practice appears to be primarily portraiture, in particular, images of women, how did this come about?
I have always been enticed by life drawing and figure painting, especially with women as my subject. It pulls me in. I also primarily use myself as a reference for my work. It began as an aesthetic decision, with my experimentation of drawing the figure and the translation of that into painting. When I was younger I remember doing a series of self portraits and realising that not only could I paint myself; it was also an unexpected means of self expression. I then painted the women in my family, which was a means to understand and represent other parts of myself. I was entranced by the visual language of artists such as Klimt who painted beautiful women and Chagall, who painted life. Now, as my practice develops, it has deepened into an investigation of the way the female body is represented within the art world and within the mass media. I look outside of myself for reason to paint myself.
The women in your portraits are faceless with seemingly no identity – is this a conscious decision? If so, why?
They are faceless as a conscious decision. One of the reasons is that I want them to be ambiguous and familiar concurrently. They are portraits of one woman but they are also of every woman. The focus on my work is on the body or ‘woman’ rather than creating a recognisable portrait and the face is so expressive it can portray a thousand other things. The flat bright colour, often geometric shapes and defined black outline lends itself to that lack of detail. The interesting aspect of some of my work, in particular, Mademoiselle, is that people who know me instantly recognised it as a self-portrait.
Why do you focus on the female form?
Initially painting the female form was purely a means of self-representation. Now, after years of research and reflection, I paint the female form as a way to examine how women are represented within our culture. I have been looking at the polarities of this representation within the media. My inquiry is how to maintain equilibrium between my own representation of women and of an authentic study of women’s desire and sexuality. My work is framed by the systems of judgment placed on women both by themselves and our culture and of observations of myself as a woman.
Are these portraits modeled on yourself? Otherwise, are they modeled on anyone in particular?
They are all self-portraits of a style. I use my own body for reference as I am interested in representing myself and I have the ease and familiarity of my body as subject. In a sense they are an examination of the self through painting, which is quite personal, but they are also the exhibition of the private within a public space. As such, self-portraits are not an absolute element in my practice. I am interested in representing other women and investigating how their personality and differences influence me and my practice in terms of painting and materiality.
What five words would you use to describe your practice?
Intuitive accident. Speculative expression. Initiation.
All images courtesy of the artist.
Wednesday, 1 May 2013
|Julian Pedraza Serrano (Bucaramanga, 1982) MAGDALENA BIPOLAR, 2011|
It is a strangely small contemporary art scene in Rome. To give an indication of scale, one of the more significant commercial spaces, Galleria Lorcan O'Neill Roma, represents Tracey Emin. Relatively speaking, in comparison to Sydney, this space could be considered like the Roslyn Oxley Gallery of Rome, but in terms of physical size, it would be a similar scale to Mop Gallery – possibly even less. In Roma there seems to be more curators than artists, art is an international game and the city seems like a bubble, a time capsule where the contemporary is not so much a focus. But when you do find it amongst the minefield of messiahs and museums, it is well worth the time.
This evening at Galleria 291 EST, I had the privilege of meeting the artist behind Roma Rima Con Sodoma (a reference to the cities name in Italian rhyming with the Italian word for sodomy). The space is an intimate hole in the wall with a high ceiling formed from vaulted arches. The architecture is the perfect complement to artist Julian Pedraza's altarpiece like paintings. With the finesse of a Giotto, each painting is acutely composed; many have mastered a sense of form and harmony that one would expect to see at the end of an almighty pilgrimage. But this is as far as the tradition extends.
Pedraza boasts fifteen years of Catholic education and nearly became a priest. He tells me that he still considers becoming a priest but I suspect that the church would not accept him given his current body of work! From behind his thick Colombian accent he tells me that he loves the church but he also hates it. There is certainly tenderness towards the religious iconography at the core of his paintings. However this is balanced with interventions and a bold pop art style which seems to make a genuflection to Warhol. Bright colours burst forward as we are confronted by works in which unexpected gender; race and sexual orientation are injected into familiar iconography. Despite the difficulties of making art in Roma, the artist has moved here for its wealth of subject matter and considering that the city boasts over 900 churches – Roma is clearly the perfect match for Julian Pedraza. As you negotiate the room there is an uncertainty towards what would be an appropriate response, at one point I wish to bless myself and the next I am checking over my shoulder to ensure that a priest or nun is not present before allowing myself to chuckle. In one corner of the room, a crucifix morph into a phallus while in other areas we are met by a local celebrity who notably died of suffocation from her own surgically enlarged breasts, she replaces non other than the Virgin Mary, elsewhere we find the artists self portrait in priestly garments. There is a tension between the artists practice and catholicism which is particularly relevant to the city. Were I to witness this work in any other city or context I would possibly dismiss it as crude but after two weeks of church hopping and observing the megalith of the Catholic Church in Rome, it feels refreshing from the unwavering reverence or token tourism gestures.
The work is blunt at the right times, despite its attempts to hard hitting in a typically bold style, it finds a sense of serenity which is enhanced by the chapel like gallery. What could at first be regarded as a simple one liner is eroded by intersecting layers of research and references embedded in each piece. The colours are like those of a glorious fresco. Concealed in the centre of the room, in what could be described as a confessional booth, a video work contained a montage of altered depiction's of Christ adds an interesting tangent to the show with its pop video like soundtrack.
Later the artist shows me his studio, a 1x1 metre space nearby, his tiny desk is covered with discrete pots of paint and he tells me that he would like to bigger pieces but obviously cannot do so here. The space instantly recalls imagery of monks engaged in the illumination of manuscripts - in small spaces, dimly lit, spending hours mediating on the creation of a small page. Here this space feels like a 21st century equivalent.
In the context of this city, where icons become idols, and papal politics are like tabloid sensations (not to mention that you can make a pilgrimage to a chapel containing a relic of the supposed remains of Jesus Christ circumcised foreskin), this style and approach seems strangely apt.
Todd Fuller is a graduate of Sydney’s National Art School and is represented by Brenda May Gallery.
All images supplied by the writer.
Monday, 29 April 2013
The Addams Family Musical
Capitol Theatre: from March, 2013
They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky
They're all together ooky, the Addams Family…
The lights darken at the Capitol Theatre. The orchestra starts playing that familiar theme song, and the audience is captivated, clicking their fingers without any prompting. Thing pulls back the red velvet curtain to reveal everyone’s favourite gothic family on stage, and the fun begins.
Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Uncle Fester, Grandma Addams and Lurch started life as cartoons drawn by Charles Addams in the 1930s. In the 1960s they hit the small screen in a tv series starring Carolyn Jones and John Astin. More recently they have been portrayed in films by Anjelica Huston and Raul Julia. Now there’s a musical. With music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa and a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, the Broadway 2010 production ran for more than 700 performances.
In this incarnation Wednesday Addams (Tegan Wouters) is all grown-up and in love. She’s bringing home a very respectable boy, Lucas (Tim Maddren), and enlists the help of her father to ensure everything goes smoothly when Lucas and his parents come for dinner. Lucas is a boy whom most parents would love, but whose very upper middle class normality causes problems for the Addams. All Wednesday wants is one normal night, but Morticia can’t help but be horrified when Wednesday forsakes her standard black dress for one of a brighter hue. Lucas too is imploring his parents to be on their best behaviour. His mother (Katrina Retallick) speaks in rhyming couplets worthy of a Hallmark card, and his father (Tony Harvey) is emotionally distant. In many ways it’s the same story line that propels the plot of La Cage Aux Folles, young lovers with differing backgrounds meeting each other’s families. But then love stories and star crossed lovers have been the stuff of theatre since man began acting out and telling stories. In this instance the story is further complicated by Gomez having to keep the news of the depth of Wednesday’s relationship from Morticia.
John Waters is a delight as the charming Gomez Addams, who finds himself torn between his wife and daughter, trying to please both. Chloe Dallimore has Morticia’s regal glide, and her second act tango with Waters is truly captivating. But it’s Russell Dykstra’s Uncle Fester who both steals the show, and facilitates the young lovers to their happy ending. Fester declares his love for the moon in a scene that is both comical and endearingly tender.
The music is catchy and different characters have different musical motifs. Gomez and Morticia are all Spanish / Latin rhythms while Uncle Fester has a more 1920s music hall style. Wednesday and Lucas sing modern rock pop songs to declare their love, and relative craziness. The use of puppets adds that element of ‘weird’ that everyone loves about the Addams without detracting from the main action. The script is witty and plays on the ‘darkness’ of the Addams; Pugsley frets that Wednesday wont want to torture him anymore because she’s happy; he can’t sleep because the monster is missing from the cupboard in his bedroom, Wednesday and Lucas argue over who is the craziest; Morticia wont believe that Gomez has kept a secret from her. All my favourite ‘classic’ elements of the tv series were included without feeling tokenistic: Morticia still beheads her roses, Gomez kisses Morticia’s arms, Lurch moans, Pugsley blows things up, Fester has a lightglobe that he pops in his mouth, and Gomez fences with an unmoving Lurch.
It’s a great show, with genuinely funny moments and some real heart as the Addams and the Beinekes deal with their issues of love and trust. But by the end everything, in true musical style, ends happily. Or in typical Addams fashion, as Gomez asks Morticia at the end of the show: “unhappy darling?” and the answer: “oh yes – yes completely.”
Elizabeth Little has a B. Art Theory (Hons)and M Art Admin, COFA UNSW. She lives and works in Sydney.
All images supplied by the writer.
Sunday, 28 April 2013
Arryn Snowball, Christian Flynn, Leah Emery, Julie Fragar, Miles Hall and Jonathan McBurnie (curator)
MOP Projects: April 18 - May 5, 2013
The idea for Special Moves arose from Jonathan McBurnie's postgraduate research into the act of drawing. Working on the idea that drawing is 'an inherently and undeniably human instinct', the art of the drawn line forms the connecting theme throughout this group exhibition. Special Moves aims to demonstrate the enduring importance of drawing in a time where the arts are becoming increasingly digital. While McBurnie both exhibits in and has curated the exhibition, he balks at the use of the word curator, insisting he is too close to the project to have any curatorial distance from it.
Leah Emery's work explores the line between art and pornography with her miniature embroidery of sexual acts. There are so many layered aspects to this work, the idea of craft, and transforming such a traditional craft like tapestry into a modern context, taking away the innocence of the nature of such traditional work. Then there is the viewers experience of the work, that on first glance you cannot really distinguish the subject matter and that it is only when you are closer that it becomes apparent. Notions of voyeurism and how in this form pornography can be viewed in a public space are evident.
The detail in McBurnie's work commands attention. Describing it as a 'personal Apocalypse', scenes are played out, characters created, all hand drawn with ink and correction fluid. Perhaps here more than in any of the other works in Special Moves we see the skill and philosophies of drawing and it serves as a reminder not to loose sight of the bigger picture and dismiss the traditions and fundamentals of the past.
Friday, 26 April 2013
|Barbara Kruger, Talk is Cheap - Free Speech is Priceless, collage on paper, 20 x 24.5cm. Image courtesy the artist and Sullivan+Strumpf.|
The role of text in art has had a varied and diverse history dating back to Picasso and the advent of Cubism. Speak to Me at Sullivan+Strumpf is a brief history of the use of language and text in art on an international scale.
For me the main draw-card of this exhibition was the opportunity to see the work of Iranian artist Shirin Neshat whose practice draws upon the social, cultural and religious codes of Muslim societies. The artist left Iran to study in Los Angeles around the time of the Iranian Revolution, during which society underwent a complete restructure and when she returned in 1990 she was shocked by the changes she saw.
Read the full article on the Au review.Tweet
Saturday, 20 April 2013
|Clare Beaumont, Coexisting, 2013.|
Read the full article on the Au review.