Tag Archives: online art

Art exhibitions in lockdown

Even though Melbourne is still in lockdown due COVID-19, there are art exhibitions on in Melbourne, but most are entirely online. Sarinah Masukor gives an excellent overview of some of the online works in Memo along with the experience of viewing them online.

Although I have seen some online exhibitions and works during Melbourne’s lockdown, including some that Masukor reviews, I’m not interested in reviewing the online art world. Scrolling through webpages instead of strolling through gallery doesn’t motivate me to write in the same way that the physical art world does. And video art independent of installation is yet another video online.

Why not? What is wrong with viewing art on a screen or in books? After all, that is how most people see most art.

It is not that I have a preference for the actual over the conceptual or precious about how the art is reproduced on a screen. It is because there is a physical aspect to art and culture, the walking, standing and physicality of experiencing. For there is always a space around the art; a space between the lines of poetry, between the episodes of a tv show and the art in the space. The place where we experience art. The physical setting that frames the art, that juxtapositions it with other art, the ghost memories of previous exhibitions in that or similar spaces. Art, in particular public sculpture, cannot be experienced online; from smelling the fumes of the freshly painted walls of graffiti to attempting to climb a sculpture.

Art plonked on our screens is different from art in the anaesthetic whiteness of the art gallery walls, or the surprising location of the street. After all, I could write about any of the other things that I see on the screen: movies, music, games…

Furthermore, there is also a social aspect to art and culture that no zoom meeting can replace. Regular readers of this blog would know that I like the eavesdrop on what other people are saying about the art. Contemporary art and street art was the biggest party on the planet, and the party is over. Even when there is no-one else in the gallery, there is the implication of a social aspect.

However, I did encounter what claimed to be “Melbourne’s worst and only art show” on a wall of Culture Club, a coffee shop on Sydney Road in Brunswick. Local Moreland artist and musician, Ben Butcher describes himself as “Australia’s worst artist”. His paintings were bad but they failed reach his own shit standard of a rainbow shitting unicorn impaling a dolphin on its horn. How bad the original hanging of the exhibition was cannot be said, as one of the paintings had already been withdrawn, but it didn’t satisfy my desire to see some good art.

Installation view of Butcher’s exhibition

Online Art Galleries

In the late 1990s, before the Internet bubble burst, I worked for Looksmart.com an international web indexing directory (#2 after Yahoo!). Part of my job included indexing online art galleries, so I saw a lot then and I have seen a lot of online galleries since. I have listed my paintings in online art galleries and I have even sold a painting through one online gallery.

The internet has proved useful for artist communicating and building communities. Street art would not be such a major international movement without the Internet record of images (for more on this see my blog post Street Art, Digital Cameras and the Internet). The Internet is a great educational resource for artists to learn new techniques from online videos. Art museums have had great developments online; there are some incredible virtual tours of major art museums available. For more read “Why the Google Art Project is Important” by Beth Harris, Ph.D. and Steven Zucker, Ph.D., Deans, Art and History, Khan Academy.

However, the Internet has not yet created any important or significant online commercial art galleries. There are lots of commercial art and very ordinary and amateur paintings for sale online. This is part of the cottage industry model of the Internet where everyone has an online arts and craft gallery selling around the world. Maybe it is possible to have a successful commercial online art gallery, something that made an impact on the art world, but it would need to do more than just connect sellers and buyers, like Ebay, Redbubble or Etsey already does. Jason Farago in “Art.sy and the Myth of the Online Art Market” (The New Republic, 22/10/2012) argues that not only do digital galleries not work and that art world is shutting them out.

Why hasn’t there been a notable or important online art gallery? Online art galleries reveal the ignorance of what is involved in actually running a commercial gallery, it is not just about providing a venue for the buyer to see the art. Although the gallery space is important as art is a tangible object and the art gallery is a tangible space something that cannot be reproduced in the virtual environment. It is about establishing a reputation with buyers, art critics and curators at major institutional galleries. It is about representing artists fully, providing them with assistance in getting commissions and promoting their art. The mediation and selection involved in a commercial gallery is the opposite of the unmediated access provided by the Internet.

(This post is part of my series about Types of Galleries.)


Thanks to everyone who has been commenting on the blog or sending me invites to exhibition. Sorry that I haven’t been able to see all the exhibitions that I have been invited to. Here is some news from my inbox about some artists that I have mentioned in this blog.

Alisa Teletovic has a painting featured in House and Garden magazine (MAY 2008 on p.71) See my interview with Alisa Teletovic. The painting is one of many illustrating the article, “Picture this”, by Betty Baboujon. The article is the consumer’s perspective of buying original medium-priced art from online art galleries.

Melbourne-based sculptor Daniel Dorall is crossing the Tasman to exhibiting Lemmings at The Kiosk/The Physics Room in Christchurch, New Zealand. The sculpture series Lemmings was previously exhibited at Mailbox 141

In my review of Lemmings I wrote:  The small space perfectly suits Daniel Dorall’s miniatures and he has used the separate mailboxes like panels in a comic strip. Soldiers walk through the grass on increasingly tall plinths with Dorall’s typical architectural foundation layout. In the final panel they fall down a pit with other dead soldiers. There is a red cross amongst the subterranean labyrinthine complex connected to the pit but none of the soldiers have made it, not even close.” Read my interview with Daniel Dorall

I’m not sure what to do about the viral advertising from Adidas; I was taken in by the humor, I did update my posting as soon as I became aware that the Zero-Tag campaign is advertising. Kano172 posted an excellent comment on my posting, Lex Injusta – please read it. Boycotting Adidas would be an appropriate response to their exploitation of the current popularity of street art. There is a lot of commercial use of street art, some of it by the artists themselves, some in respectful commercial partnership that benefits the artist, and the worst that simply exploits street artists.

%d bloggers like this: