Posts Tagged ‘Robert Klippel

14
Jan
10

Review: ‘Cubism & Australian Art’ at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen

Exhibition dates: 24th November 2009 – 8th April 2010

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Perfect summer fare out at Heide at the moment – relax with a lunch at the new Cafe Vue followed by some vibrantly fresh art in the galleries. In a nicely paced exhibition, Cubism and Australian Art takes you on a journey from the 1920s to the present day, the art revealing itself wonderfully as you move through the galleries.

There are too many individual works to critique but some thoughts and ideas do stand out.

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Cezanne’s us of passage, the transition between adjacent shapes, where solid forms are fused with the surrounding space was an important starting point for the beginnings of Cubism. Simultaneity – movement, space and the dynamism of modern life – was matched to Cubism’s new forms of pictorial organisation. The geometries of the Section d’Or (or the Gold Mean), that magical ratio found in all forms, also sounds an important note as it flows through the rhythmic movement and the sensations of temporal reality.

In the work from the 1920s/30s presented in the exhibition the palette of most of the works is subdued, the form of circles and geometrics. There are some beautiful paintings by one of my favorite Australian artists Roy de Maistre and others by Eric Wilson, Sam Atyeo and Jean Appleton (see image below). The feeling of these works is quiet and intense.

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Following

There are some evocative works from the 1940s/50s including Godfrey Miller’s ‘Still Life with Musical Instruments’ (1958), Graham King’s ‘Industrial Landscape’ (1959) and Ralph Balson’s ‘Constructive painting’ (1951). ‘The Charcoal Burner’ (1959) by Fred Williams (see image below) is the Australian landscape seen through Cubist eyes, surface and space perfectly commingled in reserved palette, delineated planes. Grace Crowley’s ‘Abstract Painting’ (1947, see image below) is a symphony of colour, plane and form that I would willingly take home any day of the week!

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Now

It is the contemporary work that is of most interest in this exhibition. Spatio-temporal reality is distorted as artists push the boundaries of dimensionality. The parameters of reality are blurred and extended through the use of multiple viewpoints and lines of sight. Fresh and spatially aware (like an in joke because everyone recognizes the fragmented ‘nature’ of contemporary existence) we have the sublime ‘Milky Way’ (1995, see image below) by Rosalie Gascoigne and for me the two standout pieces in the exhibition, ‘Bicycles’ (2007) by James Angus and ‘Static No.9 (a small section of something larger)’ (2005) by Daniel Crooks.

Though difficult to see in the photograph of the work (below), ‘Bicycles’ fuses three bicycles into one. “A photo finish made actual, a series of frames at the conclusion of a race transferred permanently into three dimensions.” You look and then look again: three frames into one, three tyres into one, three stands into one, three chains the only singular – like a freeze frame of a motor drive on a camera

Snap
Snap
Snap

or the slight difference of the two images of a Victorian stereoscope made triumvirate (the 3D world of Avatar comes to mind). Static, the bicycle can never work, is redundant, but paradoxically moves at the same time.

Even more mesmerizing is the video work ‘Static No.9 (a small section of something larger)’ by Daniel Crooks. Unfortunately I cannot show you the video but a still from the video can be seen below. Imagine this animated like swirling DNA (in actual fact it is people walking across an intersection at different distances and speeds to the camera – and then sections taken out of the video and layered). Swirling striations through time and space fragment identity so that people almost become code, the sound track the distorted beep beep beep of the buzzer at the crossing. I could have sat there for hours watching the performance as it crackles with energy and flow – with my oohs and aahs! The effect is magical, beautiful, hypnotic.

A great summer show – fresh, alive and well worth the journey if only to see that static in all its forms has never looked so good.

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Daniel Crooks
‘Portrait #2 (Chris)’
2007

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“With these portraits I’m attempting to make large detailed images of people in their own surroundings, images of people very much in and of their time that are both intriguing and beautiful. As with a lot of my work the portraits also seek to render the experience of time in a more tangible material form, blurring the line between still and moving images and looking to new post-camera models of spatiotemporal representation.”

Daniel Crooks

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Jean Appleton
‘Painting IX’
1937
Whitworth/Bruce Collection

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Elizabeth Gower
‘City Series’
1982-84

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Melinda Harper
‘Untitled’
2000

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Elizabeth Gower
‘Transient’
1979

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“Cubism & Australian Art, one of the most ambitious and extensive exhibitions Heide has undertaken, shows the impact of the revolutionary and transformative movement of Cubism on Australian art from the early twentieth century to the present day. It uncovers a little-known yet compelling history through works by over eighty artists, including key examples of international Cubism drawn from Australian collections – by André Lhote, Albert Gleizes, Fernand Léger, Alexander Archipenko, Ben Nicholson and others – and nine decades of Australian modern and contemporary art that demonstrate a local evolution of cubist ideas.

The exhibition documents the earliest incorporation of cubist principles in Australian art practice in the 1920s, when artists such as Grace Crowley and Anne Dangar, who studied overseas under leading cubist artists, began to transform their art in accordance with late cubist thinking. It examines the influence of Cubism on artists associated with the George Bell School in Melbourne and the Crowley-Fizelle School in Sydney; and on those who participated in the cubist movement abroad including James Cant and John Power.

While its distortions and unconventional perspectives served individual styles such as the expressionism of Albert Tucker or the experimental landscapes of Sidney Nolan and Fred Williams, Cubism’s most enduring influence on postwar Australian art has been in abstraction. This exhibition traces its reverberations in 1950s abstract art by Roger Kemp, Robert Klippel and Ron Robertson-Swann and others, through to works by younger artists such as Stephen Bram, Gemma Smith and Justin Andrews.

Cubism’s formal and conceptual innovations and its investigations into the representation of time, space and motion have continuing relevance for artists today, who variously adapt, develop, quote and critique aspects of cubist practice. In this exhibition, Cubism’s shifting, multi-perspectival view of reality takes on new form in moving-image works by John Dunkley-Smith and Daniel Crooks, in paintings by Melinda Harper and sculptures by James Angus. The use of found objects and recycled materials by Madonna Staunton, Rosalie Gascoigne and Masato Takasaka extends ideas originating in cubist sculpture and collage. Other artists are critical of Cubism, bringing Indigenous and non-european perspectives to bear on its modernist history, particularly  its appropriation of so-called ‘primitive art’.”

Text from the Heide Museum of Modern Art website

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Grace Crowley
‘Abstract painting’
1947

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Fred Williams
‘The Charcoal Burner’
1959

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Daniel Crooks
Static No.9 (a small section of something larger)’
2005

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James Angus
‘Bicycles’
2007

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Rosalie Gascoigne
‘Milky Way’ (detail)
1995

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Heide Museum of Modern Art
7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen, Victoria 3105

Opening hours:
(Heide II & Heide III)
Tue–Fri 10.00am–5.00pm
Sat/Sun/Public Holidays 12.00noon–5.00pm
Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day

Heide Museum of Art website

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21
Nov
08

‘Klippel/Klippel: Opus 2008′ exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria

Opus 2008' exhibition sculpture from the second space

 

‘Klippel/Klippel: Opus 2008′ exhibition bronze sculptures from the second space

 

Opus 2008' exhibition bronze sculptures from the second space

 

‘Klippel/Klippel: Opus 2008′ exhibition bronze sculptures from the second space

21
Nov
08

‘Klippel/Klippel: Opus 2008′ exhibition at National Gallery of Victoria (Federation Square)

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A magical exhibition of the work of the deceased Australian sculptor Robert Klippel (1920 – 2001) is presented together with a soundscape to accompany the works by his son Andrew Klippel. The exhibition presents two distinct rooms of light and shade and finishes with a singular monumental bronze work No. 709, but it is the first two room that astound. These contain small assemblages and bronze sculpture made in the 1980s – 1990s.

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‘Klippel/Klippel: Opus 2008′ exhibition sculpture from the first space

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In the first space lit glass cases hover in darkness, containing delicate constructions of found objects, beautifully crafted. Made of plastic and metal, some parts taken from modeling kits, the sculptures morph and weave a delicate narrative, a powerful artistic vision. Mostly totemic in nature they transport the viewer with wonder and delight, the artists vision fully realized: no unnecessary flourishes, no wasted energy on forms that are redundant.

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Opus 2008' exhibition entrance to the second space

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‘Klippel/Klippel: Opus 2008′ exhibition entrance to the second space

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Wandering from the first darkened space we face a curved wall of black with a bright white opening, almost like the mouth of a Nautilus shell. Upon entering we are enveloped in white – walls, floor, stretched acrylic ceiling and stands upon which glass cases sit all being pure white. It is like stepping into the spacecraft from Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ – quite disorientating but transformational. In the cases sit small very dark bronze sculptures contrasting with the white. Again mostly totemic in nature the sculptures have great power and presence. Some portray small cities on top of hills. Others intricate machine and figure like constructions. All of the cases are mounted at different eye levels, unlike the first room.

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Opus 2008' exhibition sculptures in the second space

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”Klippel/Klippel: Opus 2008′ exhibition bronze sculptures from the second space

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Opus 2008' exhibition installation view of the second space

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‘Klippel/Klippel: Opus 2008′ exhibition installation view of the second space

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When looking across the gallery space, the boxes and sculpture within create a diorama, almost a tableaux vivant, where you can move the focus of your gaze from foreground to mid to background, all suspended in white. If you can be in this space alone with the work and wander around soaking in the vision of this artist so much the better. The contrast and parallels between the two rooms is striking – here is an artist at the height of his powers commanding his materials and his vision in two distinct bodies of work: one delicate, found, plastic the other solid, dark and essential, both dealing with the essence of human creativity and being, leaving the viewer with a sensory experience long remembered.

The exhibition finishes on 2nd November 2008.

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The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
Federation Square
Corner of Russell and 
Flinders Streets, Melbourne

Opening hours:
10am – 5pm
Closed Mondays

National Gallery of Victoria website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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