Archive for November, 2009

29
Nov
09

Review: ‘Emily Kame Kngwarreye: The Person and her Paintings’ at DACOU Aboriginal Art, Port Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 29th October – 6th December 2009

 

 

Emily Kame Kngwarreye (Australian, 1910-1996)
My Country
1996
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

 

 

“One can theorise about beauty all day, but words are weak and at day’s end one will go out into the blue and golden and multifarious world, and one will know with the responsive heart, before there is time for words, what is and isn’t beautiful.”

.
Leo Rubinfien1

 

 

There are certain existential experiences in art one will always remember:

.
The maelstrom of convulsive colours in the paintings of J. M. W. Turner at the Tate in London

Being alone in a gallery at the Louvre with six self-portraits by Rembrandt and embracing their inner humanity

Sitting in the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris and being surrounded by the elemental forces of Monet’s panels of Nymphéas

Listening to “Sorrowful Songs” from the Symphony No. 3 by Gorecki

.
to name but a few.

Added to this list would be my experience of this exhibition of paintings by Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

It was a privilege to spend time alone with the work, just wandering around the gallery that is situated in an industrial estate in Port Melbourne. It is difficult for me to describe the experience such was the connection I had with the work, with the earth. I am emotional even writing about it. Standing in front of these paintings all pretensions of existence, all trappings of society, dissolve in colour, in presence.

I am a naturalised Australian having been born in England; I have never been to the far desert. This does not matter. What I felt, what I experienced was a connection to the land, to the stories that Emily has told in these paintings. We all come from the earth and return to it.

The paintings were painted horizontally (like the painter Jackson Pollock who intuitively accessed the spiritual realm) and evidence a horizontal consciousness not a hierarchical one. Knowledge is not privileged over wisdom. There is a balance between knowledge and wisdom – the knowledge gained through a life well lived and the wisdom of ancient stories that represent the intimacy of living on this world. The patterns and diversities of life compliment each other, are in balance.

Wisdom comes from the Indo-European root verb weid, “to see,” the same root from which words like vision come.2 In this sense these are “Vedic” paintings in that they are ancient, sacred teachings, Veda meaning literally “I have seen.”

On this day I saw. I felt.

Rarely do I have such an emotional reaction to art. When it does happen it washes over me, it cleanses my soul and releases pent up emotions – about life, about mortality, about being.

As Cafe del Mar in one of their songs, “The Messenger” sing:

“We,
We got the feeling of Mystery,
We got the touch of humanity,
I know, we can’t live forever.”

.
Go and be touched.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for Art Blart

.
Thank you to Leanne Collier and DACOU Aboriginal Art for allowing me to reproduce the three large photographs of two Wildflower paintings and one My Country painting.

 

  1. Rubinfien, Leo. “Perfect Uncertainty: Robert Adams and the American West, (2002)” on Americansuburb X: Theory. [Online] Cited 22/11/2009 no longer available online
  2. Doczi, Gyorgy. The Power of Limits: Proportional Harmonies in Nature, Art and Architecture. Colorado: Shambala Publications, 1981, p. 127

 

 

Emily Kame Kngwarreye (Australian, 1910-1996)
My Country
1996
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

 

 

Emily Kame Kngwarreye (Australian, 1910-1996)
My Country
1996
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

 

 

Emily Kame Kngwarreye (Australian, 1910-1996)
My Country
1996
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

 

 

Emily Kame Kngwarreye is Australia’s most important and famous female artist. Hailed as a modernist ‘genius’, she has been compared to Rothko and de Kooning. An Anmatyerre elder from Utopia in the remote central desert region of the Northern Territory, Emily first took up painting on canvas in her late 70’s. She quickly became one of the leaders in the contemporary Aboriginal art movement, transforming her style several times during her short career of eight years. Today she is known as one of the greatest abstract painters of the 20th century.

This important exhibition of over 80 pieces covering all significant series and periods of Emily Kngwarreye’s artistic career is the first commercial retrospective exhibition to be held since she passed away in 1996. It gives the public an outstanding chance to view and purchase works in each of her styles. DACOU has retained numerous magnificent pieces over the years that will be included in this exhibition, such as rarely seen works from Emily’s Ochre Series, created with ochre and charcoal she collected from her country. On show will be the sister painting to the famous Earth’s Creation (also titled Earth’s Creation, 1994, 4 panels, 211 x 596 cm) and just as splendid in colour and style.

Text from the DACOU Aboriginal Art website [Online] Cited 27/11/2009 no longer available online

 

 

Emily Kame Kngwarreye (Australian, 1910-1996)
Wildflower
1992
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

 

 

Emily Kame Kngwarreye (Australian, 1910-1996)
Wildflower (detail)
1992
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

 

 

Inspired by her cultural life as an Anmatyerre elder Emily produced over 3000 paintings over the course of her short eight-year painting career. Her lifelong custodianship of the women’s Dreaming sites of her clan country and in particular her yam Dreaming is the driving force behind her work (Kame meaning yam seed). Her work displays an instinct created by decades of making art for private purposes, drawing in soft earth and ritual body painting. Strong lineal structures whereupon individual dots overlap lines and appearing within others trace the appearance of seeds, plants and tracks on her country.

Text from the University of Canberra website [Online] Cited 11/05/2019

 

 

Emily Kame Kngwarreye (Australian, 1910-1996)
Wildflower
1994
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas

 

 

DACOU Aboriginal Art

This gallery has now closed.

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26
Nov
09

Exhibition: ‘The Eventuality of Daybreak’ by Alex Lukas at Glowlab, New York

Exhibition dates: 12th November – 6th December 2009

 

 

Alex Lukas (American, b. 1981)
Untitled
2009
Acrylic and silk screen on two book pages

 

 

These are terrific – I want one!

A big thank you to Alex for allowing me to reproduce the images.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Alex Lukas (American, b. 1981)
Untitled
2009
Acrylic and silk screen on two book pages

 

 

Glowlab is pleased to present The Eventuality of Daybreak, a solo exhibition by Alex Lukas featuring a new series of post-apocalyptic urban landscapes that blur the visual boundaries of fiction and reality.

Lukas’ work explores the existence of disaster, be it realised or fictitious, in contemporary society. Hyper-realistic motion pictures and unforgiving news footage depict seemingly identical – and equally riveting – facades of tragedy. The artist recognises that relentless visual bombardment has resulted in society’s desensitisation to the aesthetics of destruction.

For The Eventuality of Daybreak, Lukas has selected photographic spreads of well-known metropolises from vintage publications and uses them dually as canvas and unlikely subject. Through a deft handling of paint and carefully placed screen-printed passages, the artist pushes these ageing illustrations in futuristic contexts. Submerging these cities conceptually and physically, Lukas inundates images of American cities with layers of media representing cataclysmic floods and crippling overgrowth.

Also included in the exhibition are works on paper depicting near-future scenes of devastated landscapes – crumbling infrastructure, overturned trucks and telling signs of human despair. As a counterpoint to the underwater cities, these darkly atmospheric and barren vistas signal devastation through an unsettling sense of absence.

Lukas’ intentional use of dated imagery presented in tandem with contemporary situations forces the viewer to reconcile two differing ideologies of urban space. The artist’s work calls into question society’s collective acceptance of the urban environment as an arena of destruction, once thought unthinkable and now seemingly inevitable.

The Eventuality of Daybreak is Lukas’ first solo exhibition with Glowlab. Lukas’ work has also been exhibited in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Stockholm and Copenhagen as well as in the pages of Swindle Quarterly, Proximity Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, The Drama and The New York Times Book Review. Lukas is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and currently lives and works in Philadelphia, where he is a member of the artist collective Space 1026.

Press release on the Glowlab website [Online] Cited 20/11/2009 no longer available online

 

 

Alex Lukas (American, b. 1981)
Untitled
2009
Acrylic and silk screen on two book pages

 

 

Alex Lukas (American, b. 1981)
Untitled
2009
Acrylic and silk screen on two book pages

 

 

Alex Lukas (American, b. 1981)
Untitled
2009
Acrylic and silk screen on two book pages

 

 

Alex Lukas (American, b. 1981)
Untitled
2009
Acrylic and silk screen on two book pages

 

 

Glowlab

This gallery has now closed

Alex Lukas website

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23
Nov
09

Vale Sue Ford (1943-2009)

November 2009

 

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Dissolution
2006
from the Last Light series

 

 

One thing always struck me about Sue Ford’s work when I saw it. The work had integrity.

Whatever she produced it was always interesting, valid and had integrity. She followed her own path as we all do – and her voice was clear, focused and eloquent. I loved her series Shadow Portraits – an erudite investigation into the nature of Australian identity if ever there was one!

Vale Sue Ford.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for Art Blart

.
Please click on some of the photographs for a larger version of the image.

Barbara Hal. “Australian pioneer focused on her art,” in The Age newspaper November 21, 2009 [Online] Cited 10 May 2019

 

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Silhouette
2006
from the Last Light series

 

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Apparition
2007
from the Last Light series

 

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Transparent
2007
from the Last Light series

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Shadow portraits' (detail)1994

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Shadow portraits (detail)
1994
Colour photocopies

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Shadow portraits' (detail)1994

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Shadow portraits (detail)
1994
Colour photocopies

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Shadow portraits' (detail)1994

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Shadow portraits (detail)
1994
Colour photocopies

 

 

For Shadow portraits, Ford, like numerous artists in this period, mined historical archives of photographs for her source material, decontextualising and reworking it. Her starting point was nineteenth-century studio portraits of settler Australians that were popular in colonial society. She exploded her previous practice and intense focus on the faces of individuals; in most cases the subjects of the original photographs used in Shadow portraits are unrecognisable. Their faces have been emptied out and replaced by Ford’s generic images of Australian foliage, especially fern fronds. All the details that define an individual, their character and appearance, have disappeared, just like the sitters themselves who have been dead for decades and exist only in ghosted form.

Individual works in Shadow portraits (above) rely on a dynamic relationship between historical and contemporary images to create something new. The original studio portrait is not intact, having undergone an extended process of transformation; being re-photographed, cut up and photocopied to eventually take the form of a large gridded image. Use of the grid – an obvious reference to European systems of containment and control – continues the experimentation evident in Yellowcake. Overlaps, like the doubled image of a stereoscopic card, are purposefully exploited. The aim is to destabilise a once-static historic image, to turn the small into big, the tones into colour, the positive into negative and so on. Through these means the colonial past is represented as having continuing reverberations: the loss of concreteness in the images and distortions of scale parallel the incompleteness, gaps and blow-outs characteristic of any historical narrative. As Zara Stanhope writes, Ford’s Shadow portraits ‘image the ongoing processes involved in the construction of histories, and the power to know and remember, that provides the opportunity to revisit or critique such accounts’.

Associate Professor Helen Ennis. “Sue Ford’s history,” in Art Journal 50, National Gallery of Victoria, 2011 [Online] Cited 11/05/2019

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Ross, 1964; Ross, 1974' printed 1974

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Ross, 1964; Ross, 1974
printed 1974
From the Time series (1962-74)
Gelatin silver print
11.1 × 20.1 cm
© Sue Ford

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Big secret!' c. 1960-1961

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Big secret!
c. 1960-1961
Gelatin silver print
28.9 × 23.6 cm
© Sue Ford

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'Orpheus' 1972

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
Orpheus
1972
Gelatin silver print
33.8 × 33.8 cm
© Sue Ford

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009) 'No title (Photogram of two hands and garden path)' c. 1970

 

Sue Ford (Australian, 1943-2009)
No title (Photogram of two hands and garden path)
c. 1970
Gelatin silver print
27.6 × 34.7 cm irreg. (image and sheet)
© Sue Ford

 

 

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22
Nov
09

Exhibition: ‘Chaotic Harmony: Contemporary Korean Photography’ at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Exhibition dates: 18th October 2009 – 3rd January 2010

 

Great to have some really good quality photographs to show you from this exhibition!

Marcus

.
Many thankx to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Sekwon Ahn. Triptych from the series 'Seoul New Town' 2005-07

 

Sekwon Ahn (Korea, b. 1968)
Triptych from the series Seoul New Town (Lights of Weolgok-dong, 2005; Disappearing Lights of Weolgok-dong I, 2006; and Disappearing Lights of Weolgok-dong II, 2007)
2005-2007
Chromogenic photographs
Courtesy of the artist © Ahn Sekwon

 

Sekown Ahn. 'Lights of Weolgok-dong', 2005

 

Sekwon Ahn (Korea, b. 1968)
Lights of Weolgok-dong
2005
Chromogenic photograph
Courtesy of the artist © Ahn Sekwon

 

Sekown Ahn. 'Disappearing Lights of Weolgok-dong I', 2006

 

Sekwon Ahn (Korea, b. 1968)
Disappearing Lights of Weolgok-dong I
2006
Chromogenic photograph
Courtesy of the artist © Ahn Sekwon

 

Sekown Ahn. 'Disappearing Lights of Weolgok-dong II', 2007

 

Sekwon Ahn (Korea, b. 1968)
Disappearing Lights of Weolgok-dong II
2007
Chromogenic photograph
Courtesy of the artist © Ahn Sekwon

 

Dae-Soo KIM 'Untitled' from the series 'Bamboo' (1998-2008) 1999

 

Dae-Soo Kim (Korea, b. 1955)
Untitled from the series Bamboo (1998-2008)
1999
Gelatin silver photograph, printed 2007
Santa Barbara Museum of Art; museum purchase with funds provided by PhotoFutures

 

Bien-U Bae. 'Kyung ju' from the series 'Sonamu' 1985

 

Bien-U Bae (Korea, b. 1950)
Kyung ju from the series Sonamu
1985
Gelatin silver photograph
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; museum purchase with funds provided by Photo Forum

 

 

This October, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, presents Chaotic Harmony: Contemporary Korean Photography, the most comprehensive exhibition of contemporary Korean photography to ever be shown in the United States. Organised by Anne Wilkes Tucker, The Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography at the MFAH, and Karen Sinsheimer, Curator of Photography at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Chaotic Harmony features large scale photographs by 40 Korean artists, many of who have never before exhibited in international museum exhibitions and whose work will be on view in the United States for the first time in this show. At the MFAH, the works will be on display in the Audrey Jones Beck Building’s Cameron Foundation Gallery, as well as the Lower Beck Corridor, from October 18, 2009 through January 3, 2010, presenting a fascinating window onto the vital and constantly evolving country, Korea.

“As South Korea has exploded onto the international trade scene, South Korean artists have also emerged onto the global stage, which the recent high auction prices for Korean artwork attest to. Despite this fact, Korean art is still rarely presented in the United States, and the specific field of Korean photography is even less explored here,” said MFAH director Peter C. Marzio. “Following the MFAH’s tradition of presenting pioneering photography exhibitions, we are pleased to exhibit this brilliant survey of contemporary South Korean photography, which can be seen in the enhanced context of Your Bright Future and the museum’s Arts of Korea gallery.”

“Operating under a relatively new democracy in South Korea, artists experienced a burst of creative energy and freedom of expression in recent decades, and an entirely fresh perspective of modern-day Korea is presented in this show,” added curator Anne W. Tucker. “The photographers in ‘Chaotic Harmony’ observe the country’s notable growth in terms of industry and urbanisation and convey the resultant issues as well as reflect on the country’s ancient culture and religions.”

Within the exhibition, two distinct generations of Korean artists are represented: those born in the mid-1950s and 1960s, during a succession of military dictatorships when the country was still largely agrarian, and those born in the 1970s, predominantly in urban areas and who came into maturity in the new democratic era which began in 1987. With two exceptions, one work by each artist is included. Through recent works by both generations of photographers, Chaotic Harmony explores Korea through five thematic sections: land and sea; urbanisation and globalisation; family, friends, and memory; identity: cultural and personal; and anxiety.

 

Land and Sea

Most of the work represented in the Land and Sea section of the exhibition was created by the first generation of Korean artists who traveled abroad for their graduate educations and brought their new ideas back to dramatically effect photographic styles in Korea. Nevertheless, many of them remained tied to Korean landscapes and traditions while embracing new aesthetic ideas. The extraordinarily beautiful land and seascapes in this section celebrate Korea’s surrounding oceans and the forests that cover large sections of its mountainous terrain. In addition, these photographers often explore religious practices that are primarily tied to nature. BAE Bien-u’s Kyung ju (1985, see photograph above) from the series Sonamu (which translates to sacred pine grove), documents mist-shrouded pine trees surrounding Gyeongiu, the ancient city of the Shilla kingdom (A.D. 668-935). KIM Young-sung’s Untitled photograph (2005) from the Dolman series, shows a man standing atop one of Korea’s 50,000 dolmans (or ancient tombs). Over 60 percent of the world’s 80,000 dolmans are located in Korea. Gap-Chul Lee has documented shamanism (as well as Buddhism) in Korea for decades, but most specifically in his series Conflict and Reaction (1990-2001).

 

Urbanisation and Globalisation

An ancient civilisation, South Korea has recently transformed into one of the world’s major global economies. Three-fourths of the population is categorised as urban, with half living in the country’s six major cities. Seoul is the world’s fourth largest metropolitan area. This section of the exhibition responds to the shift of the population from rural to city living, and the entrance of Korea on to the world stage. Young-Joon CHO’s Usual & Circle – Seoul Namdaemun, Rho Gwang-hyo (2005) is a diptych: the image on the left presents an urban area teeming with stores, advertisements, people, and traffic, while the image on the right isolates a woman who we would not have otherwise noticed in the larger view of the city. Her expression of emotional distress is consistent with all the isolated figures in the series. Ahn Sekwon documented Seoul’s rapid physical changes by photographing one particular neighbourhood of the Weolgok-dong section of Seoul in 2005, 2006, and 2007 as the old homes are destroyed to make room for new high rises. The resulting triptych (see photographs above) dramatically conveys the destruction of the modest-scale homes to make way for the towering scale of a modern city.

 

Family, Friends, and Memory

Family, Friends, and Memory reflects the tensions in shifting societal values and practices as Korea continues its rapid growth. Traditionally, families followed Confucian norms: the father was the respected head of household and made decisions for his wife and children, financially supporting the family and arranging schooling and marriages. Social values have changed with increasing awareness of Western cultures through travel and the importation of Western products and media. Also with dramatic urban growth, came shifts from homes to crowded high rises, the entrance of women into the workforce, and other changes. Sunmin LEE’s photograph, Lee, Sunja’s House #1 – Ancestral Rites (2004, see below), portrays traditional values playing out in a modern setting: the men and boys of a family conduct traditional rituals in one room while the women watch from the doorway. Sanggil KIM’s Off-line: Burberry Internet Community (2005, see photograph below) depicts a modern phenomenon: people who met over the internet, united by a common passion, in this case, that of wearing Burberry Check (registered as a trademark of the Burberry brand) and enjoying an “off-line” get-together.

 

Identity: Cultural and Personal

Between 1910 to 1945, Japan annexed Korea and systematically attempted to eradicate Korean culture and identity, for example, by banning Korean literature and language from schools. Only six years after World War II, Korea was devastated by the Korean War. This section of Chaotic Harmony investigates what it means to be Korean today after this disruptive history. Some artists, such as Bohnchang KOO, seek to reclaim past cultural history, by photographing treasured and uniquely Korean items such as Celadon – the main type of ceramic produced in ancient Korea and generally exalted as Korea’s most significant artistic legacy. Jungjin Lee in term photographs native crafts from Korean folk culture. Exploring more personal aspects of identity is Yeondoo JUNG’s Bewitched #2 (below), a diptych juxtaposing images of the same teenager, mopping the floor of a Baskin Robbins in her day job and exploring the Arctic regions in her dream job (see photographs below); and Hyo Jin IN’s Violet #01 from the High School Lovers series (2007, below), which portrays an openly lesbian couple.

 

Anxiety

The “Anxiety” section of Chaotic Harmony investigates the constant tension provoked by strained relations and the potential of a violent outbreak between North and South Korea. Jung LEE’s Bordering North Korea, #2 (2005), from her 2005-2008 series of the same title, offers a view of North Korea seen from China and them superimposes over it an accompanying text chosen from the set phrases that North Koreans are allowed to say to the few foreigners who gain access to the country, such as Our country is the paradise of the people. She wants the viewer to experience both the beauty of the land and the palpable repression evident in the political slogans. Seung Woo Back references the subliminal fear of an attack from North Korea by staging “invasions” of toy soldiers that march across a family’s yard and up their wall to the kitchen window ledge, presumably unbeknownst to the person whose silhouette is visible though the window.”

Press release from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston website [Online] Cited 11/11/2009 no longer available online

 

Yeondoo Jung. 'Bewitched #2' 2001

 

Yeondoo Jung (Korea, b. 1969)
Bewitched #2
2001

 

Sanggil Kim. 'Off-line: Burberry internet community' 2005

 

Sanggil Kim (Korea, b. 1974)
Off-line: Burberry internet community from the series off-line (2005)
2005
Chromogenic photograph
Santa Barbara Museum of Art; museum purchase with funds provided by PhotoFutures
© Sanggil Kim

 

JeongMee Yoon (Korea, b. 1965) 'Seo Woo and Her Pink Things' from 'The Pink and Blue Project' (2005-8)

 

JeongMee Yoon (Korea, b. 1965)
Seo Woo and Her Pink Things, from The Pink and Blue Project (2005-8)
© JeongMee Yoon

 

 

In “Family,” the last section of her essay, Sinsheimer addresses the traditional and changing structures of the Korean family: inter-racial marriage, Confucian traditions, the nuclear family, and the effects of consumerism on the younger generation. Sunmin Lee’s photograph of an ancestral ritual, Lee, Sunja’s House #1 – Ancestral Rites (2004, below), represents the loosening of Confucian practice as the participants wear Western dress. Yet modernisation goes only so far, since the women do not take part in this vestige of patriarchal society.

A pair of photographs from Jeong Mee Yoon’s The Pink & Blue Project (2005-8, above), created during her studies in New York, shows portraits of children surrounded by their accumulated belongings arranged neatly on the floor. All pink for girls and all blue for boys, the massed items, suggest that a global consumerist culture, rather than national or ethnic values, determine male and female versions of identity and acquisition. As the author observes, these images of children engulfed by material abundance are “a portrait of consumerism.”

Hyewon Yi. “Review of Chaotic Harmony: Contemporary Korean Photography [exhibition catalog],” in Trans-Asia Photography Review Volume 1, Issue 1, Fall 2010 Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License

 

PA-YA. 'Noblesse Children #12' from the series 'Noblesse Children' 2008

 

PA-YA (Korea, b. 1971)
Noblesse Children #12 from the series Noblesse Children (2008)
2008
Chromogenic photograph
Santa Barbara Museum of Art; museum purchase with funds provided by PhotoFutures

 

Sunmin LEE. 'Sunja's House #1 - Ancestral Rites' from the series 'Woman's House II' (2003-2004) 2004

 

Sunmin Lee (Korea, b. 1968)
Lee, Sunja’s House #1 – Ancestral Rites from the series Woman’s House II (2003-2004)
2004
Chromogenic photograph
© Sunmin Lee, courtesy of the artist

 

Sungsoo Koo. 'Tour Bus' from the series 'Magical Reality' (2005-2006) 2005

 

Sungsoo Koo (Korea, b. 1970)
Tour Bus from the series Magical Reality (2005-2006)
2005
Chromogenic photograph
Courtesy of the artist © Sungsoo Koo

 

Chan-Hyo Bae (Korea, b. 1975) 'Existing in Costume_1' 2006

 

Chan-Hyo Bae (Korea, b. 1975)
Existing in Costume_1 from the series Existing in Costume (2006)
2006
© Chan-Hyo Bae

 

 

Chan-Hyo Bae has chosen the iconography of queenliness to express his own feelings of cultural estrangement. Originally from South Korea and currently living in London, England, Bae begins from very simple, common sentiments of foreignness. His works – large-format colour prints, in which he plays unidentified female British monarchs from the 13th to 19th centuries (all his works are untitled) – initially appear to be a cheeky sort of wish fulfilment. One is readily reminded of Yasumasa Morimura, the Japanese artist who casts himself in Western art’s biggest roles, and also, perhaps, of the phenomenon of cosplay – the subculture of dressing up like fictional or historical characters – which originates in Japan but has become popular throughout Asia and the rest of the world. Bae seems to be performing a blatant paradox: that of the outsider gleefully destabilising the hierarchies of a culture about which he has admittedly fantasised, but which has forbade him full entrance because of an unalterable ethnicity.

Text from the photography-now website [Online] Cited 09/05/2019

 

Hein-kuhn Oh (Korea, b. 1979) 'So-young Kang, Age 16, 2003'

 

Hein-kuhn Oh (Korea, b. 1979)
So-young Kang, Age 16, 2003 from the series Girl’s Act (2001-05)
2003
© Hein-kuhn Oh

 

Hyo Jin In (Korea, b. 1975) 'Violet #02' from the series 'High School Lovers' (2007)

 

Hyo Jin In (Korea, b. 1975)
Violet #02 from the series High School Lovers (2007)
2007
© Hyo Jin In, courtesy Sarah Lee Artworks & Projects

 

Bohnchang Koo 'In the Beginning I' 1991

 

Bohnchang Koo (Korea, b. 1953)
In the Beginning, I
1991
Gelatin silver print with thread on paper
53 x 37 1/2 inches (135 x 95 cm)
© Bohnchang Koo

 

 

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts

Opening hours:
Monday and Tuesday 10am – 5 pm
Wednesday – Friday 10am – 10 pm
Saturday and Sunday 10am – 5 pm

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston website

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18
Nov
09

Review: ‘Heavenly Vaults’ by David Stephenson at John Buckley Gallery, Richmond

Exhibition dates: 7th – 28th November 2009

 

David Stephenson. 'Nave, Laon Cathedral, Laon, France' 2006/07

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955)
Nave, Laon Cathedral, Laon, France
2006/07

 

 

I remember many years ago, in the mid-1990’s, seeing the wonderful Domes of David Stephenson displayed in Flinders Lane in what is now fortfivedownstairs gallery. They were a revelation in this light filled space, row upon row of luminous domes seemingly lit from within, filled with the sense of the presence of divinity. On the opposite wall of the gallery were row upon row of photographs of Italian graves depicting the ceramic photographic markers of Italian dead – markers of the impermanence of life. The doubled death (the representation of identity on the grave, the momento mori of the photograph) slipped quietly into the earth while opposite the domes ascended into heaven through their numinous elevation. The contrast was sublime.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the latest exhibition Heavenly Vaults by David Stephenson at John Buckley Gallery, Richmond.

The problems start with the installation of the exhibition. As you walk into the gallery the 26 Cibachrome photographs are divided symmetrically down the axis of the gallery so that the prints reflect each other at both ends and each side of the gallery. It is like walking down the nave of a cathedral and observing the architectural restraint of the stained glass windows without their illumination. Instead of the punctum of light flooding through the stained glass windows, the varying of intensities, the equanimity of the square prints all exactly the same size, all reflecting the position of the other makes for a pedestrian installation. Some varying of the print size and placement would have added much life and movement to a static ensemble.

Another element that needed work were the prints themselves which, with a few notable exceptions, seemed remarkably dull and lifeless (unlike their digital reproductions which, paradoxically, seem to have more life!). They fail to adequately represent the aspirations of the vaults as they soar effortlessly overhead transposing the earth bound into the heaven sent. In the earlier work on the domes (which can be found in the book Visions of Heaven: The Dome in European Architecture) the symmetry of the mandala-like domes with their light-filled inner illumination worked well with the square format of the images making the photographs stand as equivalents for something else, other ineffable states of being.

“The power of the equivalent, so far as the expressive-creative photographer is concerned, lies in the fact that he can convey and evoke feelings about things and situations and events which for some reason or other are not or can not be photographed. The secret, the catch and the power lies in being able to use the forms and shapes of objects in front of the camera for their expressive-evocative qualities. Or to say this in another way, in practice Equivalency is the ability to use the visual world as the plastic material for the photographer’s expressive purposes. He may wish to employ the recording power of the medium, it is strong in photography, and document. Or he may wish to emphasize its transforming power, which is equally strong, and cause the subject to stand for something else too.”1

As Minor White further observes,

“When the image mirrors the man
And the man mirrors the subject
Something might take over”
2

 

When the distance between object and image and image and viewer collapses then something else may be revealed: Spirit.

In this exhibition some of the singular images such as the Crossings, Choirs and Nave of the Church of Santa Maria, Hieronymite Monastery, Belém, Portugal (see photograph below) work best to achieve this revelation. They transcend the groundedness of the earthly plane through their inner ethereal light using a reductive colour palette and strong highlight/shadow detail. Conversely the diptychs and triptychs of Nave and Choir (see photographs below and above) fail to impress. The singular prints pinned to the gallery wall are joined together to form pairs and trios but in this process the ‘space between’ the prints (mainly white photographic paper), the breathing space between two or more photographs that balances their disparate elements, the distance that Minor White calls ‘ice/fire’, does not work. There is no tension, no crackle, no visual crossover of the arches and vaults, spandrels and flutes. Here it is dead space that drags all down with it.

I found myself observing without engagement, looking without wonder or feeling – never a good sign!

The photographs of Domes and Vaults have served David Stephenson well for numerous years but the concept has become tired, the inspiration in need of refreshment through other avenues of exploration – both physical and spiritual.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

.
Many thankx to Daniel and John Buckley Gallery for allowing me to reproduce the photographs from the exhibition. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

  1. White, Minor. “Equivalence: The Perennial Trend,” in PSA Journal, Vol. 29, No. 7, pp. 17-21, 1963 [Online] Cited 08/05/2019
  2. White, Minor. “Three Canons,” from Mirrors, Messages, Manifestations. Viking Press, 1969

 

David Stephenson. 'Choir, Laon Cathedral, Laon, France' 2006/07

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955)
Choir, Laon Cathedral, Laon, France
2006/07

 

David Stephenson. 'St. Hugh’s Choir, Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln, England' 2006/07

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955)
St. Hugh’s Choir, Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln, England
2006/07

 

 

Installation view of Heavenly Vaults by David Stephenson at John Buckley Gallery, Richmond

 

David Stephenson. 'Nave, Cathedral of St. Barbara, Kutná Hora, Czech Republic' 2008/09

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955)
Nave, Cathedral of St. Barbara, Kutná Hora, Czech Republic
2008/09

 

David Stephenson. 'Choir, Cathedral of St. Barbara, Kutná Hora, Czech Republic' 2008/09

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955)
Choir, Cathedral of St. Barbara, Kutná Hora, Czech Republic
2008/09

 

 

“While the subject of my photographs has shifted…my art has remained essentially spiritual – furthermore than two decades I have been exploring a contemporary expression of the sublime – a transcendental experience of awe with the vast space and time of existence.”

.
David Stephenson

 

 

Internationally renowned photographer David Stephenson has dedicated his practice to capturing the sublime in nature and architecture. Fresh from a successful exhibition at Julie Saul Gallery in New York, Stephenson returns to John Buckley Gallery for his third highly anticipated exhibition Heavenly Vaults. The exhibition will feature 26 selected prints from his latest monograph published by Princeton Architectural Press; Heavenly Vaults: From Romanesque to Gothic in European Architecture. Shaun Lakin, Director of the Monash Gallery of Art, will launch the book and exhibition at the opening, November 7th.

Stephenson began to photograph Gothic vaults in Spain and Portugal in 2003, while completing the work for his Domes project, and his first monograph Visions of Heaven: the Dome in European Architecture. He began to focus on the Vaults project in 2006, photographing Gothic churches and cathedrals in England, Belgium and France. With the assistance of an Australia Council Artist Fellowship in 2008-09, Stephenson completed extensive fieldwork for the Vaults project, intensively photographing Romanesque and Gothic architecture in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Germany. The exhibition at John Buckley Gallery coincides with the launch of his second monograph, Heavenly Vaults: from Romanesque to Gothic in European Architecture, published by Princeton Architectural Press, New York.

Even though the traditional systems the underpinned church architecture have lost their unequivocal power, David Stephenson’s photographs capture the resonance of those times. More importantly his work also suggest that the feelings of aspiration, transcendence, and infinity these buildings evoke in the viewer have an ongoing relevance beyond the religious setting and help us understand who and what we are.

Excerpt from Foreword, Heavenly Vaults, by Dr Isobel Crombie 2009

.
David Stephenson’s new book of photography is a love letter to the intricate, seemingly sui generis vaults of Europe’s Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals and churches.

Press release from the John Buckley website [Online] Cited 11/11/2009 no longer available online

 

David Stephenson. 'Nave, Church of Santa Maria, Hieronymite Monastery, Belém, Portugal' 2008/09

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955)
Nave, Church of Santa Maria, Hieronymite Monastery, Belém, Portugal
2008/09

 

 

‘While the subject of my photographs has shifted from the landscapes of the American Southwest and Tasmania, and the minimal horizons of the Southern Ocean, and the icy wastes of Antarctica, to sacred architecture and the sky at both day and night, my art has remained essentially spiritual – for more than two decades I have been exploring a contemporary expression of the sublime – a transcendental experience of awe with the vast space and time of existence.’

David Stephenson 1998.1

With poetic symmetry the Domes series considers analogous ideas. It is a body of work which has been ongoing since 1993 and now numbers several hundred images of domes in countries including Italy, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, England, Germany and Russia. The typological character of the series reveals the shifting history in architectural design, geometry and space across cultures and time, demonstrating how humankind has continually sought meaning by building ornate structures which reference a sacred realm.2 Stephenson photographs the oculus – the eye in the centre of each cupola. Regardless of religion, time or place, this entry to the heavens – each with unique architectural and decorative surround – is presented as an immaculate and enduring image. Placed together, the photographs impart the infinite variations of a single obsession, while also charting the passage of history, and time immemorial.

1. Van Wyk, S. 1998. “Sublime space: photographs by David Stephenson 1989-1998,” National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne np
2. Hammond, V. 2005. “The dome in European architecture,” in Stephenson, D. 2005, Visions of heaven: the dome in European architecture, Princeton Architectural Press, New York p. 190

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955) 'Choir, King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England' 2006/07

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955)
Choir, King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, England
2006/07

 

David Stephenson. 'Crossing, York Minster, York, England' 2006/07

 

David Stephenson (Australian born America 1955)
Crossing, York Minster, York, England
2006/07

 

 

John Buckley Gallery

This gallery is now closed.

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10
Nov
09

Review: ‘Unforced Intimacies’ by Patricia Piccinini at Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 22nd October – 21st November 2009

 

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965) 'The Strength of one Hand (With Canadian Mountain Goat)' 2009

 

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965)
The Strength of one Hand (With Canadian Mountain Goat)
2009
Silicone, fibreglass, human hair, clothing, Canadian Mountain Goat

 

 

We are the clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly! – yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost forever:

Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings
Give various response to each varying blast,
To whose frail frame no second motion brings
One mood or modulation like the last.

We rest. – A dream has power to poison sleep;
We rise. – One wandering thought pollutes the day;
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
Embrace fond foe, or cast our cares away:

It is the same! – For, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free:
Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but Mutability.

Mutability by Percy Bysshe Shelley

 

 

When human imagination takes flight, as it does in this exhibition, the results are superlative. Piccinini is at the height of her powers as an artist, in full control of the conceptual ideas, their presentation and the effect that they have on the viewer. Witty, funny, thought-provoking and at times a little scary Piccinini’s exhibition (paradoxically entitled Unforced Intimacies) is an act of revelatio: the pulling aside of the genetic curtain to see what lies beneath.

Featuring hyperrealist genetically modified creatures and human child figures Piccinini’s sculptures, drawings and video seem passionately alive in their verisimilitude (unlike Ricky Swallow’s resplendently dead relics at the NGV). In The Strength of one Hand (With Canadian Mountain Goat), the title perhaps a play on the traditional Zen koan The Sound of One Hand Clapping, a meditation on the nature of inner compassion, a walrus-child balances on one hand on the back of a Canadian Mountain Goat. The walrus-child has extended eyes, a voluminous lower lip with whiskers under the nose; the hyperreality of the hand on the back of the goat makes it seem like the hand will come alive! A mane of hair flows down the walrus-child’s back to feet that are conjoined – like an articulated merman – ending not in flippers but in toes complete with dirty, cracked and broken nails. Here the natural athleticism of the mountain goat, now dead and stuffed, is surmounted by the mutated walrus-child’s natural athleticism, poignantly suspended like an exclamation mark above the in-animate pommel horse.

In Balasana (The Child’s Pose) a child reposes in the yoga position on a tribal rug. Balanced on top of the child is a stuffed Red-necked Wallaby that perfectly inverts the concave of the child’s back, it’s front feet curled over while it’s rear feet are splayed. The luminosity of the skin of the child is incredible – such a technical feat to achieve this realism – that you are drawn to intimately examine the child’s face and hands. The purpose of The Child’s Pose in yoga is that it literally reminds us of our time as an infant and revives in us rather vivid memories of lying in this position. It also reminds us to cultivate our inner innocence so that we in turn may see the world without judgement or criticism. The paradoxes of the ‘unforced’ intimacy between the child and the wallaby can be read with this conceptualisation ‘in mind’.

With The Bottom Feeder (2009) Piccinini’s imagination soars to new heights. With the shoulders of a human, the legs and forearms of what seems like a marsupial, the lowered head of a newt with intense staring blue eye (see photograph above), luminescent freckled skin covered in hair and a rear end that consists of both male and female genitalia that forms a ‘face’, the hermaphroditic bottom feeder is a frighteningly surreal visage. Inevitably the viewer is drawn to the exposed rump through a seemingly unforced interactivity, examining the folds and flaps of the labia and the hanging scrotum of this succulent feeder. Here Piccinini draws on psychoanalysis and Lacan’s theory of the mirror stage in a child’s development – where the child wants to merge with the mother to erase the self/other split by fulfilling the mother’s desire by having sex with her – thus erasing the mother’s lack, the idea of lack represented by the lack of a penis.1

As Jean Baudrillard notes of the mass of bodies on Brazil’s Copacabana beach, “Thousands of bodies everywhere. In fact, just one body, a single immense ramified mass of flesh, all sexes merged. A single, shameless expanded human polyp, a single organism, in which all collude like the sperm in seminal fluid … The sexual act is permanent, but not in the sense of Nordic eroticism: it is the epidermal promiscuity, the confusion of bodies, lips, buttocks, hips – a single fractal entity disseminated beneath the membrane of the sun.”2

An so it is here, all sexes merged within the anthropomorphised body of The Bottom Feeder, a body that challenges and subverts human perceptions of the form and sexuality of animals (including ourselves) that inhabit the world.

In Doubting Thomas (2008), my favourite piece in the exhibition, a skeptical child with pale and luminous skin is about to put his hand inside the mouth of a genetically modified mole like creature that has reared it’s hairy snout to reveal a luscious, fluid-filled mouth replete with suckers and teeth. You want to shout ‘No, don’t go there!’ as the child’s absent mother has probably already warned him – to no avail. Children only learn through experience, I suspect in this case a nasty one.

.
The terrains the Piccinini interrogates (nature and artifice, biogenetics, cloning, stem cell research, consumer culture) are a rematerialisation of the actual world through morphological ‘mapping’ onto the genomes of the future. Morphogenetic fields3 seem to surround the work with an intense aura; surrounded by this aura the animals and children become more spiritual in their silence. Experiencing this new world promotes an evolution in the way in which we conceive the future possibilities of life on this earth, this brave but mutably surreal new world.

This is truly one of the best exhibitions of the year in Melbourne.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

 

  1. Klages, M. Jacques Lacan. Boulder: University of Colorado, 2001 [Online] Cited 09/10/2009 no longer available online
  2. Baudrillard, Jean. Fragments: Cool Memories III, 1990 – 1995. London: Verso, 1997, p. 74
  3. “A morphogenetic field is a group of cells able to respond to discrete, localised biochemical signals leading to the development of specific morphological structures or organs.” Morphogenetic field definition on Wikipedia [Online] Cited 05/05/2019

 

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965) 'The Strength of one Hand (With Canadian Mountain Goat)' 2009

 

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965)
The Strength of one Hand (With Canadian Mountain Goat)
2009
Silicone, fibreglass, human hair, clothing, Canadian Mountain Goat

 

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965) 'The Strength of one Hand (With Canadian Mountain Goat)' (detail) 2009

 

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965)
The Strength of one Hand (With Canadian Mountain Goat) (detail)
2009
Silicone, fibreglass, human hair, clothing, Canadian Mountain Goat

 

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965) 'The Bottom Feeder' 2009

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965) 'The Bottom Feeder' 2009

 

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965)
The Bottom Feeder
2009
Silicone, fibreglass, steel, fox fur

 

Patricia Piccinini. 'The Bottom Feeder' (detail) 2009il

 

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965)
The Bottom Feeder (detail)
2009
Silicone, fibreglass, steel, fox fur

 

 

Exploring concepts of what is “natural” in the digital age, Patricia Piccinini brings a deeply personal perspective to her work.

Rachel Kent notes: “Since the early 1990s, Piccinini has pursued an interest in the human form and its potential for manipulation and enhancement through bio-technical intervention. From the mapping of the human genome to the growth of human tissue and organs from stem cells, Piccinini’s art charts a terrain in which scientific progress and ethical questions are intertwined.”

Text from the Tolarno Galleries website [Online] Cited 05/05/2019

 

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965) 'Doubting Thomas' 2008

 

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965)
Doubting Thomas
2008
Silicone, fibreglass, human hair, clothing, chair

 

Patricia Piccinini. 'Doubting Thomas' (detail) 2008

 

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965)
Doubting Thomas (detail)
2008

 

Patricia Piccinini. 'Doubting Thomas' (detail) 2008

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965) 'Doubting Thomas' 2008

 

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965)
Doubting Thomas (detail)
2008

 

 

“Time and again my work returns to children, and their ambiguous relationships with the (only just) imaginary animals that I create. Children embody a number of the key issues in my work. Obviously they directly express the idea of genetics – both natural and artificial – but beyond that they also imply the responsibilities that a creator has to their creations. The innocence and vulnerability of children is powerfully emotive and evokes empathy – their presence softens the hardness of some of the more difficult ideas, but it can also elevate the anxiety level.”

.
Patricia Piccinini quoted on the Kaldor Public Art Projects website [Online] Cited 05/11/2009 no longer available online

 

“I am interested in the way that contemporary biotechnology and even philosophy erode the traditional boundaries between the artificial and the natural, as well as between species and even the basic distinctions between animal and human.”

.
Patricia Piccinini quoted on the Artlink website [Online] Cited 05/05/2019

 

 

Patricia Piccinini. 'Balasana' 2009

 

Patricia Piccinini (Australian, b. 1965)
Balasana
Silicone, fibreglass, human hair, clothing, Red-necked Wallaby, rug
2009

 

 

Tolarno Galleries
Level 4, 104 Exhibition Street,
Melbourne, Vic, 3000
Phone: +61 3 9654 6000

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 10am – 5pm
Saturday 1 – 5pm

Tolarno Galleries website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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