Review: ‘The Way Things Appear’ by Anne Zahalka at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 29th June – 24th July, 2010



Anne Zahalka
‘National Portrait Gallery #1’



Anne Zahalka
‘National Portrait Gallery #5’



A patchy exhibition by Anne Zahalka at Arc One Gallery, Melbourne. I can’t help feeling that we have seen this before, and done better, in the work of Candida Hofer and Thomas Struth.

Although the square photographs are taken by a medium format film camera (a Hasselblad I suspect) and printed as C-type prints (hence the lush colours) because the camera was handheld this means that, in some of the photographs, little is actually in focus. While this may add to the immediacy of the images, like a quick snapshot as Zahalka prowls the galleries, it detracts from the clarity of the previsualisation of the artist whilst also detracting from the visual depth of field that the subject matter needed.

On the positive side there are some lovely spatial relationships between the figures in the paintings and the busts on the pedestals: in one particular photograph (National Portrait Gallery #2, 2010) there is an almost symbiotic relationship between the man in the painting at left, the bust of the man on the pedestal and the man at the very left in the right hand painting. This arrangement is like a triple portrait of the same person. A similar understanding of the spatial relationships within the image frame can be seen in National Portrait Gallery #1′ (see photograph above), one of the more successful photographs in the series, with it’s wonderful red flocked wallpaper and gilt frames.

On the right hand side of the gallery there are numerous vertical colour photographs taken on a 35mm camera that feature the back of people looking at a work of art (see National Gallery of Australia, Masters of Paris #5, 2010). These are basic photographs that seek to conceptualise the act of looking at art as a tourist industry to no great affect or insight into the condition being examined.

Many thankx to Angela Connor and Arc One Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photograph for a larger version of the image.



Anne Zahalka
‘National Portrait Gallery #3’



Anne Zahalka
‘Prado Museum, Madrid’



Arc One Gallery
45 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, 3000
T: (03) 9650 0589

Opening hours:
Tue – Sat 11am – 5pm

Arc One Gallery 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.

July 2010
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