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Tag Archives: portraits

Archibald Entries Media Round-up

Each year the media start to report on the arts or specifically on the merging of art and celebrity that is the Archibald Prize for a portrait of “ … some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia during the 12 months preceding the date fixed by the trustees for sending in the pictures”. The $75,000 prize further hypes the media’s attention.

Here is a media round-up of who has been reporting on what entries; it is more than obvious why each media choose their subject except for Athena Yenko’s report in the International Business Times on Robyn Ross’s entry of a double portrait of Christine Forster, Prime Minister Abbott’s sister and partner, Virginia Edwards in a naked embrace. Ross’s entry is is also reported in Same Same with photos.

Same Same also reports on the portrait of Shelley Argent OAM by Iain Wallace.

The Herald Sun reported on stencil artist E.L.K. or a portrait of comedian, Will Anderson in the Entertainment section.

ABC Local Golburn Murray reports on a Marijana van Zanten, plans to enter a portrait of Federal Member for Indi Cathy McGowan, who defeated Liberal incumbent Sophie Mirabella.

The North Coast’s Echo Net Daily about local artist Liesel Arden portrait of “Byron identity”, Tommy Franklin.

The Age reported on Melbourne street artist CDH portrait of anti-public advertising campaigner, Kyle Magee painted on a Streets ice-cream advertisement stolen from a bus shelter. CDH also wrote a report in Vandalog about Tame DMA entering his tag as a portrait.

Dustin Stahle entered a portrait of Film Producer/Director, Jacob Oberman and Jacob mades a two and half minute film about it.

The Guardian reports on Myuran Sukumaran’s entry self-portrait, encouraged by Ben Quilty who visited him Kerobokan jail in Bali contradicting earlier media reports that Sukumaran would not be allowed to enter. The Guardian also has a photo essay of some of the thousands of entrants.

The Archibald portrait prize about the one percent, the one percent of artist who are exhibited doing portraits of the one percent who at a stretch could be described distinguished. (Christine Forster and Myuran Sukumaran are not “distinguished in art, letters, science or politics” and even to say that about Will Anderson or Tame DMA is a bit of stretch.) There are portraits this year of John Safran, Michael Leunig, Cathy Freeman and Hugh Jackman. You don’t get to paint a portrait of Nick Cave easily, as Sydney-based artist James Powditch discovered and Katrina Lobley reports on Powditch’s entry in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The finalists will be announced on 10 July but I doubt that any of these entries, with the exception of James Powditch and E.L.K., will be finalists. The winner, to be announced at noon on the 18 July, will most likely be a self-portrait by an artist who has already won the Archibald, the judges, like the media reporting on it, generally go with what they know and is close to home.

All this media coverage is not surprising given that J.F. Archibald was a media man, the founding co-owner and editor of The Bulletin magazine. Archibald’s idea was that portraits showing the physiognomy and bearing of distinguished Australians would add to the Australian identity.

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Francis Bacon’s Studio

The most important thing that I can think of seeing in Dublin is Francis Bacon’s Studio. Not that Francis Bacon is an Irish artist – he left the country when he was 16 and never returned. And his studio was in London but it has been moved, posthumously to Dublin City Gallery. Bacon is, in my opinion the most important post-war painter, his use of paint to create images are powerful with progressive and experimental techniques.

On a rainy Sunday, at 10:45 I am standing with one wet shoe at the door of Dublin City Gallery, the Hugh Lane Gallery, although it is actually at 22 North Parnell Square. Addresses in Dublin are so confusing, streets will change their name every block, although why this should be confusing for someone from Melbourne where a street will change name when it goes into a different  suburb or just have two different names, I don’t know. Actually the gallery is named after its founder, Sir Hugh Lane, not a street by that name.

15 minutes later I am let into the gallery, there is no queue, just me and three French women and one Irish man.  I go to the bathroom to dry my wet Dunlop tennis shoe and the sock on the hand-dryer. I fear that I might kill the machine before it dries outs the shoe but it does.

Then I go upstairs to see the Francis Bacon studio. The studio is behind glass, you can look in through the door, the two windows and two new viewing holes that allow close up views of paint on the wall and paint brushes. The studio is still a mess, Bacon never cleaned it up his studio (he did keep the rest of his small flat tidy), but every object has been documented by a team of archeologists. So as well as, looking at the actual studio I spent time looking at the computers with the documentation of the studio. Of interest to the street artists who read this blog Bacon did use Krylon and Humbrol spray paints, as well as, basic stencils of arrows and the head of Bacon’s lover, George Dryer.

There are photographs of Francis Bacon and his friends in another room; and unfinished Bacon paintings on exhibition in other rooms. It is a powerful experience and after looking at Bacon’s studio the rest of the gallery seems to be designed around Bacon’s art. The raw canvas of Patrick Scott’s “Large Solar Device” (1964) or Edward and Nancy Kienholtz “Drawing from ‘Tank’” (1989) with empty tin cans, photos etc. All the rough paint, all the drips or splatters, all seem to be influenced by Bacon, of course, this is not true but the effect is that powerful.

Other exhibitions in the Hugh Lane gallery, a room of Sean Scully paintings with their large, rough, geometric brick shapes of paint, and a surprising number of paintings by Canadians. There is an exhibition of portraits of artists by artists: “The Perceptive Eye: Artist Observing Artists”. Whistler paints Sickert and many self portraits, including a late, unfinished self-portrait by Bacon (1991-92). And an exhibition of Ellsworth Kelly “Drawings 1954-62” – Ellsworth Kelly is my least favorite artist, he is so boring but at least his drawings do not take up as much space as his large minimalist paintings.


March @ Platform

I always try to see the monthly exhibitions at Platform when I have a few minutes before my train at Flinders Street Station. It is a very accessible artist-run-imitative with several separate spaces in the subway going to Degraves Street from the station.

The highlight of this month’s exhibitions at Platform is Bernadette Trench-Thiedeman “Patient” – a feasting vignette, commission for the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2010 (there is always some kind of arts festival on in Melbourne, often more than one). It is a small attractive, mouth watering, combination of sculpture and gardens. Even the drip-feed intravenous drip system and the blue hospital sheet doesn’t put me off the garden fresh vegetables on display. Lettuce, chili bushes, basil, chives, and thyme – a full salad is growing in form of the patient. Bernadette Trench-Thiedeman is a set designer, illustrator, photographer, puppeteer and installation artist. She has created an ice clock room in the famous Ice Hotel in Sweden and helped plant the vertical garden in Melbourne Central. This is not her first garden exhibition at Platform, in 2008 she had “Eat the City”. (See my entry on Artist-Gardeners for more about this growing art movement.)

Lucy Farmer, a performance artist, visual artist and jewellery designer, is exhibiting “Review” at Platform. Her statement about the exhibition reads: “What you see is quite clearly fake yet the constant surveillance of a public space is now visible and remembered, not half forgotten through a camera lens. Who is critiquing whom? Review is a site-specific exhibition created to challenge psychological and social readings of value, class, status, control and power through portraiture, installation and a heightened awareness of the physicality of the audience in relation to the work and their necessary participation with the work.” It is a bit much of an explanation for a series of portraits and I don’t see where the surveillance cameras come in. I kept on thinking: should I know these people? The theatricality of the red backgrounds, the gold frames and dark portraits all created out of paper taped together, made me think about the superficial nature of self-image.

Emma Anna combines sculpture, installations and printmaker at Vitrine. Her installations are always appealing but I can never really get into them. I’m not sure why, but they feel thin, as if to examine them to closely might just poke holes through the paper. As if to make up for the paper-thin content there is a lot to look at in the installation ranging from Surrealism to post-minimalist printmaking – her USB fitted flying ducks have an inescapable and appealing logic to them but why are they not connected?

Kim Summer and Clea Chiller have a great installation at Sample. The intensity of examining another person’s living room/bedroom along with the reality of homelessness makes this a successful installation. It has been composed with great care. The TV flickers across empty channels, there is a pin-board of photos, a mirror, books, toiletries – some of basic aesthetics necessary for survival. The figure of the sleeping occupant transforms this stuff into a portrait of a life in need of shelter.


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