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Melbourne Art Guide - December

Melbourne Art Guide - December

As summertime begins in Melbourne, many of the smaller galleries finish their last exhibitions for the year before taking a long holiday, while the larger institutions are opening their summer blockbuster exhibitions just in time for the holiday crowds. This year is no exception. The Heidi Museum of Modern Art is presenting Jenny Watson: The Fabric of Fantasy, a large survey exhibition of one of Australia’s leading female artists. The National Gallery of Victoria is presenting the inaugural NGV Triennial, an exhibition focused on art and design in the Asia-Pacific region. The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art is presenting Unfinished Business: Perspectives on art and feminism a large group exhibition surveying a diverse number of artists within a feminist scope. 


I.

Exhibition: Jenny Watson: The Fabric of Fantasy
Artist: Jenny Watson
Venue: Heide Museum of Modern Art
Dates: Until March 4th, 2018

 

Jenny Watson is a leading Australian artist whose conceptual painting practice spans more than four decades. Jenny Watson: Fabric of Fantasy is curated by Museum of Contemporary Art Curator Anna Davis and the survey features works from the 1970s to the present, including examples of Watson’s early realist paintings and drawings, and a number of key series of works on fabric. Many of Watson’s works feature self-portraits and alter egos, a cast of longhaired women, horses, ballerinas, rock guitarists and cats, who enact life’s ongoing psychodramas. 

Jenny Watson, Self Portrait as a Narcotic, 1986, oil, ink, animal glue and collage of paper on linen, courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art, copyright the  artist.

Jenny Watson, Self Portrait as a Narcotic, 1986, oil, ink, animal glue and collage of paper on linen, courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art, copyright the

artist.

II.
 
Exhibition: NGV Triennial  
Artists: over 100 artists and designers from 32 countries  
Venue: National Gallery of Victoria
Dates: December 15th, 2017 to April 15th, 2018

 

Featuring the work of over 100 artists and designers from 32 countries, the NGV Triennial surveys the world of art and design, across cultures, scales, geographies and perspectives. The NGV Triennial is a celebration of contemporary art and design practice that traverses all four levels of NGV International, as well as offering a rich array of public programs to coincide with the exhibition. 

Ntozakhe II, Parktown 2016. Courtesy the artist and STEVENSON gallery, Johannesburg.

Ntozakhe II, Parktown 2016. Courtesy the artist and STEVENSON gallery, Johannesburg.

III.

Exhibition: Unfinished Business  
Artists: over 50 various artists
Venue: Australian Centre for Contemporary Art  
Dates: December 15th 2017 to March 25th, 2018

 

Asking why feminism is still relevant, necessary and critical, Unfinished Business is a major exhibition conceived to animate these discussions around a selection of artistic practices. Adopting a collaborative, polyphonic form which encourages diverse voices, practices and debates, Unfinished Business presents new commissions and recent work alongside selected historical projects, programs of film and performance, and a publication. The exhibition aims to stimulate new debates and discussions around the ‘unfinished business’ of feminism today. The curatorial team for this exhibition includes: Max Delany, Annika Kristensen, Paolo Balla, Julie Ewington, Vikki McInnes, and Elvis Richardson .

Sarah Goffman, I am with you 2017 (detail), cardboard, permanent marker, approx. 7.0 x 7.0 m. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Andrew Curtis

Sarah Goffman, I am with you 2017 (detail), cardboard, permanent marker, approx. 7.0 x 7.0 m. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Andrew Curtis

Banner image: Jenny Watson: The Fabric of Fantasy, installation view.

Book a tour with Charlotte in Melbourne to discover more!

Melbourne Art Guide - November

Melbourne Art Guide - November

This month in Melbourne it is all about female artists. A solo exhibition by a young female artist Ruth O’Leary about her new life as a mother is being presented at C3 Art Space. A larger show at Neon Parc in Brunswick includes two established artists Mira Gojak and Elizabeth Newman, a formal pairing that sees organic large scale sculptural forms meld with paintings that vary from soft to dark hues. And finally, a group exhibition curated by Julia Murphy that examines the concept of our environment, both natural and constructed, through the work of six female artists being presented at The Honeymoon Suite. 


I.

Artist: Ruth O’Leary  
Exhibition: MILF  
Venue: C3 Contemporary Art Space, Abbotsford  
Dates: until November 19th, 2017  


Ruth O’Leary’s practice can most readily be described as autobiographical. She is the consistent subject of within her work, which employs her own body across performance, photography, video and painting. Her work is often labelled as feminist – perhaps because her practice is inherently performative her female form becomes an overt site of exploration. However, Ruth resists this label, partly due to feminisms cultural popularity in 2017 but, also, because it is limiting. It is about her, and she just so happens to be a woman. Ruth’s new body of work in the exhibition MILF has been created in the past months of her recent foray into motherhood. Her son Apollo was born less than a year ago and this new chapter of her life has brought with it powerful and unprecedented change to her life. MILF examines the relationship between a mother, an artist and her child. In this new body of work, which includes painting and photography, Ruth investigates her transgressive and enchanting experience of motherhood. 

Photo courtesy Ruth O’Leary.

Photo courtesy Ruth O’Leary.


II.

Artists: Mira Gojak and Elizabeth Newman  
Exhibition: Mira Gojak/Elizabeth Newman
Venue: Neon Parc, Brunswick  
Dates:  Until December 16th, 2017


This exhibition has been curated to tease out formal and conceptual concerns in each artists' work. Mira Gojak’s practice incorporates sculpture, installation, and drawing. Both her drawings and immersive three-dimensional sculptures are characterised by lyrical lines which convey a sense of rhythm and movement, whilst investigating form, volume and space. As such, she has described her work as bodily gestures that express the tension between two actions: to expand and extend out into the world, and to contract and retreat. Gojak exhibits two large sculptures which spread throughout the gallery space. Elizabeth Newman’s practice encompasses paintings, works on paper, photographs and ready-to wear garments. Featured in this exhibition are new paintings and fabric works. Her paintings question the parameters and definitions of the medium. They are opaque, deliberately being devoid of any subject matter or conscious intention, often engaging only with the language of painting itself, as while they refer to, and suggest traditions of modernist painting, they deliberately fail to live up to its perfection and enlightened ideals. 

Photo: Mira Gojak / Elizabeth Newman,Installation view. Courtesy of Neon Parc.

Photo: Mira Gojak / Elizabeth Newman,Installation view. Courtesy of Neon Parc.


III.

Artists: Thea Jones, Noriko Nakamura, Virginia Overell, Lucreccia Quintanilla, Ella Sowinska, Mashara Wachjudy  
Exhibition: everything spring
Curator: Julia Murphy  
Venue: The Honeymoon Suite, Brunswick  
Dates: November 18th, 2017   


everything spring is a group exhibition that consider the idea of our environment. Environment is understood here in an expanded sense, encompassing the spaces that we occupy in urban and constructed settings, and the ecology of the natural world. Social structures and dynamics are embedded within this conception of place. Reflecting upon our fragmented, often distracted relationships with out surroundings, and the fraught experience of attempting to understand global environmental change, the exhibition proposes the potential for renegotiating a more stable sense of place within our environment, through the practices of six local artists. The exhibition includes sculpture, photography and video work, made either from environmental materials or reflecting upon how artificially constructed our environments have become.  

Photo: Lucreccia Quintanilla, If you close your eyes you might see what is really there – Merri Creek Spring, 2017, sand, weeds, broken iPhone, clay and gouache and sound composition, dimensions variable. Courtesy of André Piguet and The Honeymoon Suite.

Photo: Lucreccia Quintanilla, If you close your eyes you might see what is really there – Merri Creek Spring, 2017, sand, weeds, broken iPhone, clay and gouache and sound composition, dimensions variable. Courtesy of André Piguet and The Honeymoon Suite.

Australiana to Zeitgeist: An Interview with Melissa Loughnan

Australiana to Zeitgeist: An Interview with Melissa Loughnan

Oh So Arty Editorial Coordinator, Sophie Weinstein, sat down with our Melbourne guide, Melissa Loughnan, to discuss her new book Australiana to Zeitgeist: An A-Z of Contemporary Australian Art.

 

Why do you think many critics have traditionally dismissed Australian art as derivative?

Historically, Australian artists have been led by the prevailing art movements of the UK, Europe and America. Our sense of national identity is also often shrouded by our commonwealth heritage. We tend to be looked upon as a small subsidiary of the UK, rather than a nation with its own unique cultural fabric.

 

How are you hoping to change the public’s opinions of Australian art with your new book?

Australiana to Zeitgeist focuses on a number of Australian artists who are practicing internationally, and are perhaps better known overseas than in their home country. Andy Boot, Ry David Bradley and Michael Staniak, who are featured in my ‘I for Internet’ chapter, are prime examples of this. It also focuses on artists whose practices are worthy of greater attention in a global context. Ultimately I hope that my book will contribute to a reappraisal of Australian art among international collectors and curators.

 

What inspired you to write this book?  What void were you hoping to fill by publishing it?

My aim for the book was to present an alternative view on Australian art to other surveys that have been previously published, with less of the ‘usual suspects’. Additionally, as the Australian art world is quite small, the number of collectors and institutions that support it is also quite small. So I was also motivated to write the book in the hopes that it might increase the audience for, and eventually the support of, contemporary Australian art - both locally and internationally. 

Ultimately, my aim is for Australiana to Zeitgeist to provide an accessible introduction to the broad range of contemporary art practices in Australia today.
— Melissa Loughnan

As you have acknowledged, Australian art is often overlooked within the global art scene, what contributions do you think Australian artists can make to the international world of contemporary art?

There are a number of artists who mine Australia’s history and cultural fabric to make internationally relevant work. Helen Johnson, who features in my P for Painting chapter, is a good example of this. Her work explores ideas of Australia’s colonial history, the construction of national identity and our current political environment. She recently held a solo exhibition at ICA, London, and is currently exhibiting at the New Museum, New York. 

 

Can you tell us about your arts initiative, Utopian Slumps?

Utopian Slumps opened as a non-profit curator-run arts initiative in 2007, focusing on early to mid career Australian artists through curated group exhibitions and a focus on art that is ‘of the hand’. The gallery shifted its model to commercial in 2010, where it maintained its focus on curated group exhibitions while representing seventeen artists from Australia and New Zealand. Utopian Slumps operated for eight years in total and participated in a number of art fairs locally and internationally, including Art Forum Berlin, Art Stage Singapore and Art Basel Hong Kong. 

 

How did your experience at Utopian Slumps motivate you to write this book?

Through Utopian Slumps I came to know the Australian art scene intimately, and found that there were many artists that were deserving of greater attention, or who, in my opinion, had been overlooked. I have attempted to re-dress this balance, albeit from my singular perspective, through this book.

 

What criteria were you looking for in the artists who you included in the book?

The book focuses on artists who I see as unrepresented and under-represented. The book is thematic, which ultimately fed my selection of artists, seeking out the strongest examples whose works or practices sat within each theme. Ultimately, my aim is for Australiana to Zeitgeist to provide an accessible introduction to the broad range of contemporary art practices in Australia today.

 

Internationally you can purchase Melissa's book here and in Australia here.

 

Take a tour with Melissa to discover more!

All photos for this story are by Christo Crocker.

Melbourne Art Guide - October

Melbourne Art Guide - October

I.

Exhibition: Coney Island  
Artists: John Aslanidis, Angela Brennan, Sadie Chandler, Renee Cosgrave, David Harley, Matthew Johnson, Wilma Tabacco  
Venue: Counihan Gallery
Dates: Until October 29th


Coney Island presents artists working with the language of abstract painting. Curator Jane O’Neill has brought in artists from various stages in their careers, for example established abstract painter Angela Brennan showing alongside mid-career painter Renee Cosgrave. Jane sees each artist tackle the project of abstraction in an entirely personal way, building upon his or her own history of looking and making work. While recognizing each artist’s individual approach to abstraction, the exhibition also celebrates shared interests; between consistent patterning and loose compositions; between hard-edged painting and softer bruised lines. Just as we are drawn to the flickering lights and optical illusions fabricated in amusement parks, Coney Island designates the gallery as a space for the reception of lights, colours and lines. 

Image: Renee Cosgrave, Tribal Lung 2015. oil on wood, 40 x 30 cm.  Courtesy of the artist. 

Image: Renee Cosgrave, Tribal Lung 2015. oil on wood, 40 x 30 cm.  Courtesy of the artist. 


II.

Exhibition: The Small Sword  
Artist: Brent Harris  
Venue: Tolarno Galleries  
Dates: Until November 4th


Brent Harris’ paintings and works on paper are brooding, dripping swamplands delineated in the most meticulous way.  In Harris’ paintings, pictorial elements appear and compositions evolve through process-based methods. Elements of his compositions are built upon or worked over: for example, a smudge may develop into a figure, or be painted away. For his new exhibition The Small Sword, Harris presents a series of eleven new paintings where flat delineated areas of colour, intuitive mark making and figuration borne with a graphic sensibility form tight yet fluidly organic compositions. The figuration is barely realist - emergent imagery plays with symbolic meaning and various narratives related to our unconscious emerge but remain contingent.  

Image: Brent Harris, the small sword, installation view. © Tolarno Galleries 2017.  Exhibition: dissolve  Artist: Adam John Cullen  Venue: Gertrude Glasshouse  Dates: 7 – 28 October

Image: Brent Harris, the small sword, installation view. © Tolarno Galleries 2017.  Exhibition: dissolve  Artist: Adam John Cullen  Venue: Gertrude Glasshouse  Dates: 7 – 28 October

 

III.

Exhibition: Dissolve  
Artist: Adam John Cullen  
Venue: Gertrude Glasshouse  
Dates: October 7th to October 28th, 2017


Gertrude Contemporary is a respected non-profit art gallery and artist studio complex that has been supporting emerging and experimental art practice in Melbourne for over 30 years. Their competitive and sought after studio program offers sixteen non-residential studio spaces to artists on two-year tenures. In 2011, Gertrude Contemporary opened a smaller gallery in Collingwood called Gertrude Glasshouse, which focuses on presenting solo exhibitions by artists that are part of their studio program. One of the current studio artists – Adam John Cullen – will be exhibiting in October. Adam works with sculpture, often employing industrial materials in new and experimental ways – for example, pouring concrete into molds that solidify as forms sometimes mimicking objects that exist in the real world. Often reusing old works within new works, his process is gritty, mixing different textures and resolving each work by being open to chance occurrences that play out with the materials construction and deconstruction. Cullen’s material investigations engage with ideas about consumption and waste, and his sculptural works and installations are often multi-layered and compelling.

Image: Adam John Cullen, Certain Remnants, installation view, Primavera 2017: Young Australian Artists, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, 2017, hydrostone, plaster, oxide, cotton, marble, limestone, image courtesy the artist and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia © the artist, photograph: Jessica Maurer

Image: Adam John Cullen, Certain Remnants, installation view, Primavera 2017: Young Australian Artists, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, 2017, hydrostone, plaster, oxide, cotton, marble, limestone, image courtesy the artist and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia © the artist, photograph: Jessica Maurer

Take a tour with Charlotte in Melbourne to discover more! 

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Banner image: Angela Brennan, An Open Future 2012. Oil on linen, 180 x 220 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne.