Daily Archives: January 8, 2009

Early January Exhibitions

Although most of Melbourne’s art galleries are closed for a holiday in January there are still a few exhibition of varying quality on in the CBD.

At Platform there is “Unrealised Architecture”, an exhibition of architectural models, plans, ideas and dreams that have not been realized for a variety of reasons from their own impossible nature to local council objections. Architects are very good at putting together displays, generally for presentations for clients, and this exhibition is no exception. And like all exhibitions of unrealised architecture it allows the viewer to imagine: what if they had been built.

Also at Platform, in Vitrine “Nutrimetrica II: 2008 Lukewarm” an evocatively lit installation featuring a wheelchair with gold details on a plinth of lime green videotapes with two bug lights. What this all means is anyone’s guess.

And in Sample, recent VCA graduate, Sam George is exhibiting “You brighten my day”. Five black desk lamps each on a plastic hemisphere plinth, in the glass cabinet are connected to a motion sensor. The motion sensor detects the movement of pedestrians in that corridor of Campbell’s Arcade switching the lights on. It is pretty simple fun switching lights on and off. The use of the desk lamp is probably inspired by the desk-lamp logo for Pixar animation.

At the City Library the “Periodic Table Project” by Marita Dyson and Stuart Flanagan is a good idea poorly realized. It is so poorly realized that their periodic table doesn’t fit on the wall and has two whole lines of elements presented on a different size on another part of the wall. At first I thought that it was an amateur group art project because of the variety of styles and techniques used in the illustrations that went with each element. The only consistent feature was the symbol for the element and its atomic weight somewhere in the lower left hand corner.

In one of the windows of Ross House is a small playful exhibit promoting latest issue of the youth arts magazine, Voiceworks. Amongst the exhibition is the work of Hayden Daniel; I recognized his birdman image from his exhibition last year in the Sample cabinet at Platform.

On the train there is the Moving Gallery with a photograph by Clare Rae from Kings Artist Run Initiative. Rae has staged a private domestic moment; it is has been carefully posed and lit like a penitent saint in a Spanish Baroque painting – St. Mary in the bathroom.


Toddler Art

The selection process in rental space galleries, like Brunswick Street Gallery (BSG), is primarily based on renting out the space and not artistic ability. So I was not surprised to read on the front page of The Age that BSG has found that they are exhibiting the paintings of Aelita Andre, a 2-year old girl.

Most of Melbourne’s galleries close for January so BSG must have been happy to find someone who wanted to rent a gallery so early in the year.

Mark Jamieson, the director of BSG has made the best of the situation securing front-page publicity for his gallery. Along with a review by the Age’s art critic, Robert Nelson of the artist’s work. Artists exhibiting at BSG rarely get reviewed. There was more media coverage from NineMSN and the Sydney Morning Herald. (And now I am writing about it.)

Years ago I made a similar mistake, prompted by the quality framing of a large abstract painting on paper that was hanging in a friend’s study. It resembled drawings by William de Kooning. I asked who the artist was only to be told that it was his daughter aged 2 or 3 years old.

I would recommend to parents of all 2 and 3 year olds to follow the example of Aelita’s mother, Kalashnikova, in part, renting gallery space is going a bit far. Buy a couple of large canvases (this way you don’t have to pay the expense of framing and mounting) and some artist’s acrylic paints. Paint a background colour onto the whole of the canvas; Indian Red (terracotta colour) works well. Then let your child paint. Do not write your child’s age on the front of the canvas, as it will only detract from the composition, recording it on the back is sufficient. Hang your favourite canvas on your wall; it will be a beautiful memento of your child’s early years.

I would recommend to all rental space galleries that either they improve their selection processes (actually meeting the artist might be a good first step), or to remember that all publicity is good publicity.

It would be a mistake to conclude that this episode demonstrates anything about the quality of abstract art in general. 

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