Posts Tagged ‘afterimage

05
Aug
18

Review: ‘Dale Cox: Inner Logic’ at Australian Galleries, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 24th July – 12th August 2018

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'Usurper Ruminant' 2016

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969)
Usurper Ruminant
2016
Acrylic on gold enamel on board
120cm x 90cm

 

 

Clarion call

The sky is blue, the sun is shining and yet, in this era of the Anthropocene, the Earth is in deep shit. Through the activities of a virus, a contagion that infests the planet…. that is – the ego, the selfishness of the individual human and, collectively, of the human race – “we are perhaps amongst the first to contemplate not just our own finite existence, but the doomed fate of the Earth itself.”

My friend Dale Cox’s exhibition Inner Logic at Australian Galleries dissects this situation in a most intelligent and imaginative manner. Instead of didactic protest, Cox uses the language of Australian pastoral landscape, iconic edifice and stratigraphic cross section to make ironic comment on popular culture, history and religion. As you dissect the various influences and concepts within the work you chuckle to yourself at the artist’s inventiveness and humour.

Mixing the tight style and formal, classical beauty of Australian colonial painting (with reference in particular to the work of John Glover) with the uncanny sense of reality and precision found in the paintings of Jeffrey Smart, Cox twists his realities and points of view. Shopping trolleys have a strange perspective when filled with Australian colonial landscapes; aircraft stairs seem strangely twisted as they lead to a geological cross-section topped with verdant greenery (a journey through time); clouds in the burning landscape look like that of an atomic bomb; an Uluru-like profile of Elvis in the Australian bush is dotted with tents and encampments; and Australian ute’s of unlikely shape sit at the base of a constructed Elvis edifice, the most prominent thing to my mind in the painting being the four air conditioning units at the base of the construction cabin, sitting in an absolutely barren landscape. The perspicacity of Cox’s (re)marks is exemplary.

My favourite works in the exhibition are the Usurper paintings. Here Cox condenses the customs, traditions and rituals of the human race (colonisation, farming, habitation – power, possession, destruction and modification of the environment and its animals) onto the body of the (b)ovine family, the livestock “genetically modified over time through the artificial selection of desirable traits by humans, with a view to increasing the docility of the animals, their size and productivity, their quality as agricultural products, and other culturally desired features,”1 to serve humans who are substantially dependent on their livestock for sustenance and other purposes. These artificial bodies, these illegitimate usurpers, float on a sea of gold enamel and wood grain form.

Cox’s declamations, his inner logic if you like, document in the most inventive way the liturgy of errors of the human race. His work is a clarion call for humans to be better custodians (for that is what we are) of the Earth. Through his subversive paintings, the artist “challenges the myopic tendency for us humans to fixate on ourselves in a way that bodes poorly for our ability to see the bigger picture and act as stewards for the entire planet rather than as self serving, selfish species.” (Email to the author, 28 July 2018). His humors (basic substances which are in balance when a person, or in this case the Earth, is healthy) add to the raised voices against the naysayers of global warming, the backward looking fossil fuel industry, the power of nations and corporations, and the vested interests of the rich and powerful, mainly men. It’s time for the dreamers, the artists, and the spiritual to confront these dinosaurs of the past, so that they may shape the future. So that the human race can cast aside their shadow and learn to walk on the Earth without leaving tracks.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to Dale Cox for allowing me to publish the text and the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Shaman

“There are two kinds of people in this world.

There are those who are dreamers and those who are being dreamed.

There comes a time in every mans life when he must encounter his past.

For those that are dreamed, who have no more than a passing acquaintance with power, this moment is usually played out on their death beds as they try to bargain with fait for a few more moments of life time.

But for the dreamer, the person of power, this moment takes place alone, before a fire, when he calls upon the spectres of his personal past to stand before him like witnesses before the court…

I am not speaking of remembering the past. Anyone can remember the past, and in remembering we frame it to serve and justify the present. Remembering is a conscious act and therefore subject to embellishment. Remembering is easy.

The person of power sits alone before the fire and confronts his past. He hears the testimony of these spectres and he dismisses them one by one. He acquits himself of his past. If you comprehend this, the man of power has no past. No history that can claim him. He has cast aside his shadow and learnt to walk in the snow without leaving tracks.”

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Dr Alberto Villoldo

 

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'Usurper Transplant' 2016

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969)
Usurper Transplant
2016
Acrylic on gold enamel on board
120cm x 90cm

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'Usurper Glover' 2016

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969)
Usurper Glover
2016
Acrylic on gold enamel on board
120cm x 90cm

 

John Glover (England 1767 - Australia 1849, Australia from 1831) 'The River Nile, Van Diemen's Land, from Mr Glover's farm' 1837

 

John Glover (England 1767 – Australia 1849, Australia from 1831)
The River Nile, Van Diemen’s Land, from Mr Glover’s farm
1837
Oil on canvas
76.4 x 114.6 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1956

 

 

John Glover’s colonial landscapes can be divided into two groups: pastoral scenes of the land surrounding his own property, and pre-contact Aboriginal Arcadias. Although the Aboriginal figures are at times generic, they are shown as active participants in the landscape. Such scenes were, however, entirely imagined, as Glover encountered very few Tasmanian Aboriginal people while in the colony. Glover had not experienced the conflict or witnessed the violence between Tasmanian Aboriginal resistance fighters and white settlers during the 1820s. By the time of his arrival in 1831, the Tasmanian Aboriginal survivors had been forced to leave Country and relocate to Flinders Island.

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'Tract 38 (Burning landscape)' 2012

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969)
Tract 38 (Burning landscape)
2012
Acrylic on canvas
102 x 152cm

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'Tract 38 (Burning landscape)' 2012 (detail)

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969)
Tract 38 (Burning landscape) (detail)
2012
Acrylic on canvas
102 x 152cm

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'Flight SQ2118 to Thailand' 2018

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969)
Flight SQ2118 to Thailand
2018
Acrylic on board
81 x 122cm

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'Rewilding II' 2018

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969)
Rewilding II
2018
Acrylic on board
81 x 122cm

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'Anticolonial' 2018

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969)
Anticolonial
2018
Acrylic on board
81 x 122cm

 

 

Inner Logic 2018

The motifs and elements in this exhibition are all related to our human predicament; to this era of the Anthropocene and our unique capacity amongst living things to contemplate our own mortality. While we have grappled with our impermanence for thousands of years, we are perhaps amongst the first to contemplate not just our own finite existence, but the doomed fate of the Earth itself. A kind of double death.

It’s a lot to take on board.

Perhaps, unsurprisingly, we are well practiced at diversion, denial and a kind of wishful thinking when it comes to our fate. Religion has served us rather well as a kind of ‘soft landing’ into the unknown; furnishing us cradle to grave with a reassuring framework towards a life after death.

It is an intoxicating idea that when we die we go elsewhere. Anything but death seems like a plan. Indeed, many opine that a belief in an afterlife is essential to the very fabric of humanity, that our lives would be meaningless if it simply ended. Perhaps there is an inner logic to this: Is there a point to a life that simply ends?

Our aversion to annihilation runs deep, and in light of some fairly compelling arguments that it is so, humanity is slow to accept the deal. And now that we are facing mounting evidence that we are hurtling towards an environmental collapse of our own making, it seems the all too human ability to simply avert our gaze is once again at play. Desperate times call for desperate measures in collective denial, and so it seems we enter the post-truth era.

There are myriad ways in which we pull off this practised art of self-delusion. Central to it is our unerring fascination with ourselves, our own species. ‘Anthropocentricity’ has served us for millennia as an essential tool of survival by strengthening our ties as family units, tribes, villages and, by extension, nations. The gods we created invariably took a patriarchal form, and we still cling to these heroic manifestations of our own image.

Even our innate altruism appears limited to all things ‘us’. We seem ill-equipped as stewards of the planet of being capable of seeing the bigger picture, of accommodating the survival of all species. All animals are necessarily hardwired to fixate on their own collective survival at the expense of other species, but it is humans alone who can progress that exclusivity to global obliteration.

I generalise, of course. Many manage to stare reality squarely in the face, and many more understand the importance of the broader environment. And it will get harder to remain wilfully ignorant, as the ecological collapse is well underway, overtaking even the gloomiest of predictive models. It is in plain sight and will only become harder to ignore.

The environmental problems we face appear too colossal for individuals to consider; it all seems too overwhelming, too daunting. These are not ‘human-sized’ problems after all. But if we can apply the same collective fervour and inventiveness we applied to bettering our human lot, if we can find a global will to turn our remarkable capacity for enterprise in science, technology and innovation to repairing the planet as a whole, we may have just cause for hope.

Dale Cox

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'The Bungle Bungles' 2018

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969)
The Bungle Bungles
2018
Acrylic on board
122 x 244cm

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'Always on my mind' 2018

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969)
Always on my mind
2018
Acrylic on board
101 x 244cm

 

 

Anthropocene definition

Relating to or denoting the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.

Evolutionary psychology definition

Evolutionary psychology is a theoretical approach to psychology that attempts to explain useful mental and psychological traits – such as memory, perception, or language – as adaptations, i.e., as the functional products of natural selection.

The purpose of this approach is to bring the functional way of thinking about biological mechanisms such as the immune system into the field of psychology, and to approach psychological mechanisms in a similar way.

In short, evolutionary psychology is focused on how evolution has shaped the mind and behaviour. Though applicable to any organism with a nervous system, most research in evolutionary psychology focuses on humans. (Text from the Science Daily website)

Evolutionary psychologists argue that much of human behaviour is the output of psychological adaptations that evolved to solve recurrent problems in human ancestral environments…

Evolutionary psychologists hold that behaviours or traits that occur universally in all cultures are good candidates for evolutionary adaptations including the abilities to infer others’ emotions, discern kin from non-kin, identify and prefer healthier mates, and cooperate with others. (Text from the Wikipedia website)

Tract definition

A short piece of writing, especially on a religious or political subject, that is intended to influence other people’s opinions; a large area of land; a major passage in the body, large bundle of nerve fibres, or other continuous elongated anatomical structure or region.

Usurper definition

A usurper is an illegitimate or controversial claimant to power, often but not always in a monarchy. In other words, a person who takes the power of a country, city, or established region for themselves without any formal or legal right to claim it as their own. Usurpers are both those who overtake a region by often unexpected physical force, as well as individuals or organisations who overtake a region through political influence and subterfuge – though the word “usurper” denotes a single person; either an individual who acted alone, or the leader of a group which supported their controversial claim.

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'Untitled (Lunar lander of wood)' 2012

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969)
Untitled (Lunar lander of wood)
2012
Acrylic on board
51 x 77cm

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'Cold War Reliquary' 2014

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'Cold War Reliquary' 2014

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'Cold War Reliquary' 2014

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'Cold War Reliquary' 2014

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969)
Cold War Reliquary
2014
Mixed media Wood acrylics gold enamel metal rock glass
Dimensions variable
Created for the Blake Prize

 

 

Cold War Reliquary 2015-16

A reliquary (also referred to as a shrine or by the French term châsse) is a container for relics. These may be the purported physical remains of saints, such as bones, pieces of clothing, or some object associated with saints or other religious figures. (Wikipedia definition)

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My sculpture is a vessel- a craft, a portal, a reliquary. Like many Religious objects its serves as a nexus, a transport between Earth and Heaven. The Apollo Lunar Module carried the first Human to the Moon landing on July 20 1969. I was 3 months old. Russia had landed an unmanned craft safely on the moon ten years earlier. The ‘Space Race’ was chiefly an assertion of Ideological superiority between Communism and Capitalism, and the most symbolic battlefield of the ‘Cold War’.

I have long thought of mans tentative forays into space as a kind of membrane piercing journey into the Spiritual – the body released of its Earthly mass and transcended into the Heavens. The reference to a Religious Relic and object of Art – a reliquary for the precious moon rock it houses within the glass dome, elevates a Mechanical Machine to the status of a Religious Relic and is intended to supplant and parody the Christian Canon that asserts our ascension to Heaven (or Hell) upon death.

The essential role of Science as the facilitator of Space Exploration is significant, and as such the Spacecraft itself is venerated here as a Religious object.

The use of Quasi Religious painted panels directly references early Christian Art, whilst most of the Latin Inscriptions are direct translations of NASA Radio Transcripts between (Earth) Base Command and the Astronauts during the critical stages of the Moon landing, and the first historic moments upon landing. Buzz Aldrins remark as he first set foot on the moon was “Beautiful, beautiful. Magnificent desolation.” In Latin Magnificus in desertum.

Dale Cox

 

 

 

Cold War Reliquary

The Cold War Reliquary is a vessel – a spacecraft, and a Holy Relic. Like many Religious objects, it serves as a nexus, a transport between Earth and Heaven.
I have long thought of man’s forays into space as a kind of membrane piercing journey into the Spiritual – the body released of its Earthly mass and transcended into the Heavens. This reliquary for the precious moon rock it houses within a glass dome, elevates a Mechanical Machine to the status of a Religious Relic and playfully parodies the Space Race as the era in which Science finally transcended Religion.

 

Inner Logic continues Dale Cox’s insightful and evocative explorations into environmental, spiritual and anthropological themes; investigating the impact of humankind on this planet and our collective search for meaning.

“The motifs and elements within the current exhibition of my paintings all are in some way or another related to our human predicament and this era of the anthropocene and our unique capacity amongst living things to contemplate our own mortality,” says Cox, “We humans have been grappling with our own mortality for thousands of years. Are we today, however amongst the first generations to contemplate not just our own finite existence, but also the doomed fate of the Earth itself? A kind of double death…”

Inner Logic presents a dynamic series of recent paintings in Dale Cox’s highly distinctive visual language, in which elements from the natural world and icons from popular, religious, industrial and historical culture are assembled in precarious, yet harmonious balance upon a backdrop of the vast unknown. Meticulously executed in acrylic paint, these works are visually intricate and conceptually dense, yet the clarity and significance of their message resonates with immediacy and power.

Dale Cox is equally proficient in sculpture as he is in painting and works across a wide range of media. This exhibition presents the artist’s compelling Cold War Reliquary (Finalist in the 64th Blake Prize); a magnificent recreation of the Lunar Lander spacecraft realised as a gilded religious receptacle, “My sculpture is a vessel – a spacecraft, a portal, a reliquary. Like many religious objects its serves as a nexus, a transport between Earth and Heaven. I have long thought of man’s forays into space as a kind of membrane piercing journey into the spiritual – the body released of its Earthly mass and transcended into the Heavens. This reliquary for the precious moon rock it houses within a glass dome, elevates a Mechanical Machine to the status of a Religious Relic and playfully parodies and challenges the Christian Church.” Dale Cox, 2018

Press release from Australian Galleries

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'Art Mart' 2018

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969)
Art Mart
2018
Acrylic on board
120 x 89cm

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'Albert' 2018

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969)
Albert
2018
Acrylic on board
160 x 122cm

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'The wonder of you' 2018

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969)
The wonder of you
2018
Acrylic on board
120 x 90cm

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969) 'The wonder of you' 2018 (detail)

 

Dale Cox (b. 1969)
The wonder of you (detail)
2018
Acrylic on board
120 x 90cm

 

 

Australian Galleries
35 Derby Street,
Collingwood 3066
Phone: +61 3 9417 4303

Opening hours:
Open 7 days 10am to 6pm

Australian Galleries website

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29
Jun
16

Australia as an After Image: Middle Australia and the politics of fear

June 2016

 

 

“An afterimage … is an optical illusion that refers to an image continuing to appear in one’s vision after the exposure to the original image has ceased.”1

 

I don’t usually mix politics and art on this website but today, before the general election this Saturday in Australia, I ask this question: what kind of country do we want in the future? One that cares about human beings of all ages, races, sexualities, socio-economic positions and health – or one that has no vision for the future and which is governed by market greed.

As an immigrant I am forever grateful that I can call Australia home. I arrived in 1986 and got to stay as a permanent resident because of a gay de facto relationship. I was one of the lucky few. But today, dear friends, I feel that something has gone terribly wrong with this country. Looking back nearly 30 years later I wonder what has happened to that progressive country that was an unpolished diamond, a bit rough around the edges but generous and welcoming when I arrived all those years ago. Things seem to have gone backwards, terribly backwards over the last 30 years. It’s almost as though the country of hope and fun that I arrived in is just an afterimage located in my memory, a vision that continues to flicker in the recesses of the mind but is no longer present in actuality.

Today, as with many countries in the Western world which are edging towards the right through a “conservative movement” with clearly defined tenets and agenda, we live in a country governed by the politics of fear. This politics of fear – grounded in rampant capitalism where making a buck takes precedence over the lives of people: its business – and linked to the Christian fundamentalist right and the “re-engagement between church and state” – is, as David Kindon notes, “moving Australia away from the notion of a secular democracy.”2

Australia is now a less generous place than it was 30 years ago, ruled by god-given, government-aligned order. Bugger the pensioners, cut the arts program funding, get rid of public health care, call for plebiscite on gay marriage where the bigots can come out of the woodwork and other people decide whether you are deemed “equal” to them, imprison vulnerable people in state run concentration camps where the government has the right to hurt other people… and the list goes on and on: Border Force as a quasi paramilitary force for our protection, more people in jail than at any time in our history (due to the privatisation of the jails = money, profit), and “new anti-protest laws [In New South Wales which] are the latest example of an alarming and unmistakeable trend. Governments across Australia are eroding some of the vital foundations of our democracy, from protest rights to press freedom, to entrench their own power and that of vested business interests.” (Sydney Morning Herald)

Further, there is the “privatisation of government assets and services, attacks on public broadcasting services, deregulation of the private sector, and widespread cuts in the public sector.” (Kindon) As ever, the rich get richer, the miners get wealthier, and the poor get screwed. More entitlements were delivered to the wealthy and the corporate sector despite having seen the “end of the age of entitlement” announced by the Treasurer. Those very vested business interests.

This situation is not akin to the concept of “permanent temporariness” used to describe the plight of the Palestine State but is akin to that of a “permanent blindness” of a nation. Middle Australia will not hear what they don’t want to hear, will not see what they don’y want to see. Today, nationalism has become framed in terms of external (and internal) threats. Xenophobia in the recent Brexit poll in the UK is mirrored by simmering racism in this sun blessed country. Otherness, difference, liberal views, alternative thinking and, heaven forbidden, being an open and responsible member of the human race (on human rights, on global warming, on not being in wars we have no business being in) are all seen as threatening to the middle-brow status quo. Steady as she goes for “Team Australia” and if you’re not with us, you’re against us. Yes, let’s stick with this mob for a little while longer…

WAKE UP AUSTRALIA BEFORE ITS TOO LATE!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

1. Anon. “Afterimage” on Wikipedia. [Online] Cited 21/09/2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afterimage
2. Kindon, David. “The Political Theology of Conservative Postmodern Democracies: Fascism by Stealth,” on the A Fairer Society website [Online] Cited 29/06/2016

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

 

 

David Moore (Australia 06 Apr 1927 – 23 Jan 2003) 'Migrants arriving in Sydney' 1966, printed later

 

David Moore (Australia 06 Apr 1927 – 23 Jan 2003)
Migrants arriving in Sydney
1966, printed later
gelatin silver photograph
30.2 x 43.5 cm image; 35.7 x 47.0 cm sheet
Gift of the artist 1997
© Lisa, Karen, Michael and Matthew Moore

 

Mervyn Bishop. 'Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into the hands of traditional land owner Vincent Lingiari, Northern Territory' 1975

 

Mervyn Bishop
Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pours soil into the hands of traditional land owner Vincent Lingiari, Northern Territory
1975
Type R3 photograph
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Hallmark Cards Australian Photography Collection Fund 1991
© Mervyn Bishop. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

 

 

Persons Of Interest – Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) surveillance 1949 -1980
Author Frank Hardy in the doorway of the Building Workers Industrial Union, 535 George St, Sydney, August 1955
NAA A9626, 212

 

Lifejacket and lifebuoy from the 'MV Tampa' 2001

 

Lifejacket and lifebuoy from the MV Tampa
2001
Wallenius Wilhelmsen MV Tampa collection
National Museum of Australia

 

“There was one man from Nauru who sent me a letter that I should have let him die in the Ind … the Indian Ocean, instead of picking him up. Because, the conditions on Nauru were terrible. And that is a terrible thing to tell people, that you should have just let them drown.” – Arne Rinnan, Captain of the MV Tampa

 

 

Juan Davila
A Man is Born Without Fear
2010
© Juan Davila, Courtesy Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art

 

J.W.C. Adam. 'Asylum seekers protesting against detention at Villawood Immigration Detention Centre on 22 April 2011' 2011

 

J.W.C. Adam
Asylum seekers protesting against detention at Villawood Immigration Detention Centre on 22 April 2011
2011
CC BY-SA 2.5

 

 

“And when we call these places of horror in the Pacific ‘concentration camps’, that is an appropriate term, because that is what they are.

And when we accuse the Australian government of selectively torturing brown-skinned people in the way the Nazis chose the Jews and other groups to torture and ultimately eliminate, that is an appropriate thing to do, because we all know, in our heart of hearts, that if these people fleeing oppression were white, English-speaking Christians (white Zimbabweans, say) then their treatment would be completely different.”

Berger, David. “It’s Okay to Compare Australia in 2016 with Nazi Germany – And Here’s Why,” on the New Matilda website May 22 2016 [Online] Cited 29/06/2016

 

Ben Quilty. 'Trooper M, after Afghanistan' 2012

 

Ben Quilty
Trooper M, after Afghanistan
2012
Oil on linen
Collection of the artist

 

Keast Burke (New Zealand, Australia 1896 - 1974) 'Husbandry 1' c. 1940

 

Keast Burke (New Zealand, Australia 1896 – 1974)
Husbandry 1
c. 1940
Gelatin silver photograph, vintage
30.5 x 35.5 cm image/sheet
Gift of Iris Burke 1989

 

Cronulla race riots 2005

 

Cronulla race riots 2005

 

 

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14
May
12

Exhibition: ‘Andy Warhol: Polaroids / MATRIX 240’ at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California

Exhibition dates: 27th January – 20th May 2012

 

Andy Warhol. 'Untitled' Pages 8 and 9 of The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, Vol. III

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Untitled
Pages 8 and 9 of The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, Vol. III
of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Twenty-Year Report, 1987–2007

 

 

ONE PERSON has found one of the images below offensive; so just for them please note that his posting has a PENIS and A-RRRRRR-SE rating. For all others, enjoy another spectacular Andy posting!

Marcus

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Many thankx to BAM/PFA for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image (especially the two images directly below). View the complete The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program Vol. III as a pdf (3.7Mb pdf)

 

 

“I’ve never met a person I couldn’t call a beauty.”

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Andy Warhol

 

 

Andy Warhol. 'Untitled' Pages 38 and 39 of The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, Vol. III

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Untitled
Pages 38 and 39 of The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, Vol. III
of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Twenty-Year Report, 1987–2007

 

 

The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive presents Andy Warhol: Polaroids / MATRIX 240. The exhibition features a selection of Warhol’s Polaroid portraits drawn from an extraordinary gift of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to the museum. From 1970 to 1987, Warhol, armed with his Polaroid Big Shot camera, captured a wide range of individuals – the royalty, rock stars, executives, artists, patrons of the arts, and athletes who epitomised seventies and eighties high society, but also as many unknown subjects. From January 27 through May 20, 2012, BAM/PFA will feature a group of approximately forty of these photographs, including portraits of Caroline, Princess of Monaco; Diane von Furstenberg; and O.J. Simpson.

Famous for his contributions to Pop Art, Warhol used photography as a central part of his art-making process. Before turning to fine art, Warhol worked in advertising and commercial art, experiences that informed his approach to portraiture. In 1962, he debuted his first silkscreen paintings of celebrities, serialising pictures he pulled from magazines and press photos. In addition to using found images, Warhol eventually incorporated his own photography into his practice. In 1969 he launched inter/View magazine, which featured his photos of celebrities. By the 1970s and 1980s, portrait commissions were a major source of his income, and many of his Polaroids would serve as the basis for these works.

While each of the images in Andy Warhol: Polaroids is unique, the consistency of composition, poses, and plain white backdrop equalises the superstars and lesser-known subjects. To Warhol, they were all beautiful people. But even within this uniform staging, we see the artist finding numerous ways to create memorable, varied, and iconic compositions. Though these photos may be small in size, together the Warhol Polaroids provide a glimpse into the artistic process of one of the twentieth century’s most important artists.

From 1970 to 1987 Andy Warhol took scores of Polaroid and black-and-white photographs, the vast majority of which were never seen by the public. These images often served as the basis for his commissioned portraits, silk-screen paintings, drawings, and prints. In 2007, to commemorate its twentieth anniversary, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts launched the Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program. Designed to give a broad public greater access to Warhol’s photographs, the program donated over 28,500 of Warhol’s original Polaroids and gelatin silver prints to more than 180 college and university museums and galleries across the country. Each institution received a curated selection of over one hundred Polaroids and fifty black-and-white prints.

The number of images he took at each session varied as greatly as the figures he photographed. Repetition, a recurring motif in Warhol’s paintings, plays both a conceptual and practical role in his photography. By making several Polaroids, he had more material from which to work. By shooting at length, more about the sitter was exposed. Seen all together, the Polaroids destabilise the iconic status that a Warhol image assumes when displayed singly. On its own, a Polaroid image is fully identified with the artwork that ultimately grew out of it; the face depicted becomes a kind of signifier for larger cultural concepts of beauty, power, and worth.

Text adapted from “Andy Warhol’s Photographic Legacy,” in The Andy Warhol Photographic Legacy Program, Vol. III of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Twenty-Year Report, 1987–2007 (New York: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc, 2007), 4-5.

View the complete Vol. III as a pdf (3.7Mb pdf)

Text and press release from the BAM/PFA website

 

Andy Warhol. 'Billy Squier' 1982

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Billy Squier
1982
Polacolor 2
4-1/4 x 3-3/8 in.
Gift of the The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

Andy Warhol. 'Daryl Lillie' 11/1978

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Daryl Lillie
11/1978
Polacolor 2
4-14 x 3-3/8 in
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

Andy Warhol. 'Heather Watts' after June 1986

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Heather Watts
after June 1986
Polacolor ER
4-1/4 x 3-3/8 in.
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

 

From 1970 to 1987 Andy Warhol took thousands of Polaroid pictures, the vast majority of which were never seen by the public. These images often served as the basis for his commissioned portraits, silkscreen paintings, drawings, and prints. Warhol captured a wide range of individuals with his Polaroid Big Shot camera. The royalty, rock stars, industrialists, artists, patrons of the arts, and athletes who epitomised 1970s and 1980s high society, as well as unknown sitters, are represented with a sense of dignity and verve. Warhol was interested in a new definition of ”Society” that emerged in this period. In the introduction to the 1979 publication Andy Warhol’s Exposures, the artist wrote:

“Now it doesn’t matter if you came over on the Mayflower, so long as you can get into Studio 54. Anyone rich, powerful, beautiful, or famous can get into Society. If you’re a few of those things you can really get to the top.”1

Warhol’s images not only documented, but participated in, the creation of this new social world, satisfying both the need of his subjects to be seen and the desire of the viewer to gain access to this milieu through the act of looking. Warhol worked in advertising and commercial art before turning to fine art, experiences that informed his approach to portraiture. In 1962, he debuted his first silk-screen paintings of celebrities, serialising pictures appropriated from magazines or press photos of the time. In addition to employing found images, Warhol eventually incorporated photography into his practice and, in 1969, started a magazine (originally called inter/VIEW) that often featured his own photographs of celebrities. By the 1970s and 1980s, portrait commissions became a main source of his income.

Warhol’s Polaroids are strikingly intimate, an effect achieved in part by his personal relationship with the sitters and in part by formal aspects of the images. The artist often provided a luncheon in advance of the photo session, establishing a bond with his subject and a tone for the shoot. In the resulting Polaroids, the sitter is in direct eye contact with Warhol and the camera. The strong sense of immediacy created by the sitter’s open gaze is enhanced by the tight compositions in which the subject, pressed up close to the picture plane, is isolated from any context. A feeling of vulnerability appears in some of the portraits (as suggested by the bared shoulders of Unidentified woman (blond with bangs), for example), indicating a willingness to be exposed as well as the seductive nature of the artist and the photo shoot itself. The closeness forged between photographer and sitter and captured by the camera offers an illusion of sharing these private moments and of entering into Warhol’s circle of beautiful people and their glamorous lives.

While each image is unique, the consistency of composition, poses, and plain white backdrop equalises the celebrities and the unknown subjects of Warhol’s Polaroids. After all, to Warhol, they were all beautiful people. Polaroids of individuals who are not immediately recognisable pique our curiosity. Who is the enigmatic Frau Buch? Like many of Warhol’s subjects, she is photographed with a prop. The small dog that she hugs may not identify her, but it suggests a dimension of her personality. In other Polaroids, Warhol used props as identifying elements like the attributes in Renaissance portraiture – major-league baseball pitcher Tom Seaver is shown with his mitt and NFL legend O.J. Simpson clutches a football. The teddy bear in the arms of the subject of Unidentified girl (blue t-shirt with teddy bear) represents an aspect childhood that everyone can relate to, although the girl is actually a scion of the new high society: Jade, the daughter of Mick and Bianca Jagger.

Warhol’s Polaroids were designed to be source material for his canvases. He would direct the sitter in a series of poses, which gave the artist ample material from which to create the subsequent silkscreen portraits. Subjects such as fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg and patron of the arts Daryl Lillie are photographed wearing thick white makeup, black eyeliner, and bright red lipstick that evoke the stage or a high-fashion photo shoot; however, the makeup also served to flatten the images for a smooth effect in the screen-print transfer. The Polaroid Big Shot’s strong flash overexposes many images and increases the contrast, an effect Warhol deployed in the subsequent silkscreens; the flash also seems to catch each sitter – celebrities and unknowns alike – in the sudden glare of a paparazzo’s camera.

Warhol’s Polaroids borrow from paparazzi and high-fashion photography and at the same time elevate an inexpensive, everyday medium to the realm of high art. Warhol embossed his name in capital letters in the lower right-hand border of most of the Polaroids, marking them as a painter would sign a canvas. For Warhol, coming from the world of advertising, this was also a kind of branding. He wrote of Jade Jagger: “She never calls me Andy always Andywarhol, as if it were one word – or a brand name, which I wish it were.”2 Warhol’s portraits confuse the boundaries of advertising and art, high and low, celebrity portraiture and the depiction of everyday people, and even photography and painting. His subjects are perpetually illuminated by the afterimage of a flashbulb, their faces immortalised by Warhol’s style

Fabian Leyva-Barragan, Curatorial Intern
Stephanie Cannizzo, Assistant Curator

 

  1. Warhol, Andy and Colacello, Bob . Andy Warhol’s Exposures (New York: Andy Warhol Books / Grosset & Dunlop, Inc., 1979), p. 19
  2. Ibid., pp. 28-29

 

Andy Warhol. 'Pia Zadora' 1983

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Pia Zadora
1983
Polacolor ER
4-1/4 x 3-3/8 in.
Gift of the The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

Andy Warhol. 'Tom Seaver' 1977

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Tom Seaver
1977
Polacolor Type 108
4-14 x 3-3/8 in.
Gift of the The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

Andy Warhol. 'R.C. Gorman' 1979

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
R.C. Gorman
1979
Polacolor Type 108
4-1/4 x 3-3/8 in.
© The Andy Warhol Center for the Visual Arts

 

 

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

BAMPFA is located at 2155 Center Street
between Oxford Street and Shattuck Avenue, in downtown Berkeley
Phone: (510) 642-0808

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Sunday, 11am – 7pm
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive website

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17
Apr
11

Review: Bill Henson at Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 30th March – 21st April 2011

 

Bill Henson. 'Image No.9 from an Untitled sequence 1977' 1977

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Image No. 9 from an Untitled sequence 1977
1977
Gelatin silver print

 

 

This is an exquisite exhibition by one of Australia’s preeminent artists. Like Glenn Gould playing a Bach fugue, Bill Henson is grand master in the performance of narrative, structure, composition, light and atmosphere. The exhibition features thirteen large colour photographs printed on lustre paper (twelve horizontal and one vertical) – nine figurative of adolescent females, two of crowd scenes in front of Rembrandt paintings in The Hermitage, St. Petersburg (including the stunning photograph that features The return of the prodigal son c. 1662 in the background, see below) and two landscapes taken off the coast of Italy. What a journey this exhibition takes you on!

Throughout his career Henson has carefully and thoughtfully mined the history of art to create personal mythologies that have wider universal implications. His work is a spiral feeding back into itself. As it ascends so it expands. His inquiry has been consistent and persuasive – themes and techniques that were evident in the very first photographs still appear many years later. For example, the very early photograph Image No.9 from an Untitled sequence 1977 (above) features a Mannerist-influenced elongated body, a form that appears in the latest exhibition in several of the works. Other influences have been, in early work, the Baroque (Untitled 1983/84, below), Rembrandt’s use of chiaroscuro in the Paris Opera Project (Untitled 21/51, below), the Pre-Raphaelite (used in most of his figurative work, especially in the faces, see below). In the current exhibition the influence of Caravaggio on the form of the body and the relationship between a work and Leonardo da Vinci’s Head of Christ (c. 1494-5, below) is evident as is the implementation of a flattened perspective that is opposed to the principles of linear perspective, used in Dutch still life of the 17th century (see ‘The Art of Describing’1) that Henson employed in early photographs of crowds (Untitled 1980/82, below) – now reappearing in the two photographs taken in front of the Rembrandt paintings.

Henson’s vulnerable bodies have always been marked, bruised and subject to distress, emerging into the light in fragments – unsure in their relationship to life, spirit and mortality. His naked adolescent subjects occupy interstitial spaces: the gap between spaces full of structure, between childhood and adulthood – fluid spaces of adventure, exploration and problematic transience. Using this metaphor the photographs invite the viewer to examine their own social identity for this is never fixed and stable, is always in a state of flux; we, the viewer, have an intimate relationship to this period in our life not as some distant memory but with a sense of wonder and appreciation.

The new photographs, with their languorous, limpid figures have a certain malaise to them – the disintegrating body, the surface of the skin all blotchy hues of blue, pink and purple as if diseased – are translucent like a chrysalis …. the inner light seeming to magically emerge from under the skin. As John McDonald in his excellent article (an essential read!) in The Age comments,

“The bodies of teenagers are transformed into living sculptures, infused with a slivery-blue sheen, every bruise and blemish captured in unsettling detail. Henson does not provide us with fantasy objects; he makes us feel how lonely it can be within our own skins. These are disturbing images but not because they feature naked adolescents. They are disturbing because they have the beauty of old master paintings or antique statuary but depict beings of flesh and blood. They are disturbing because they touch parts of the psyche we might prefer to avoid, stripping away the social self, leaving us as defenceless as a snail without its shell.”2

As McDonald notes, these bodies are more melancholy than erotic although they do possess, powerfully, that ability to image “the primeval deity who embodies not only the force of love but also the creative urge of ever-flowing nature, the firstborn Light for the coming into being and ordering of all things in the cosmos.”3 In this sense they emerge from darkness into the (dying of the) Light and possess a foreboding sense of death as well as elegiac sensuality: the placement of a hand, the hair of a person enveloped in darkness languidly resting on an exposed stomach, easily missed if not being attentive to the image.

Henson’s photographs have been said by many to be haunting but his images are more haunted than haunting. There is an indescribable element to them (be it the pain of personal suffering, the longing for release, the yearning for lost youth or an understanding of the deprecations of age), a mesmeric quality that is not easily forgotten. The photographs form a kind of afterimage that burns into your consciousness long after the exposure to the original image has ceased. Haunted or haunting they are unforgettable.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

  1. See Alpers, Svetlana. The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century. University Of Chicago Press, 1984
  2. McDonald, John. “Bill Henson,” in The Age newspaper. April 9th 2011 [Online] Cited 17/04/2011
  3. Anon. “Eros,” on Wikipedia [Online] Cited 17/04/2011

.
Many thankx to Jan Minchin and Tolarno Galleries for allowing me to publish the four photographs from the exhibition in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All photographs © the artist and Tolarno Galleries.

All photographs published other than the ones supplied by Tolarno Galleries are published under fair dealing for the purposes of criticism or review (Commonwealth of Australia Consolidated Acts: Copyright Act 1968 – Sect 41).

 

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled' 1980/82

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Untitled
1980/82
Gelatin silver photograph
28 × 47 cm

 

David Bailly. 'Self-Portrait with Vanitas Symbols' c. 1651

 

David Bailly (Dutch, 1584-1657)
Self-Portrait with Vanitas Symbols
c. 1651
Oil on canvas

 

Bill-Henson. 'Untitled' 1983-84 Triptych

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Untitled 1983/84
1983-84 Triptych
Type C colour photograph
Each 98.3 x 73.6 cm

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955) 'Untitled 21/51' 1990-91

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Untitled 21/51
1990-91
Paris Opera Project
Type C photograph
127 × 127cm
Series of 50
Edition of 10 + 2 A/Ps

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled #125' 2000-03

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Untitled #125
2000/2003
LMO SH163 N15A
Type C photograph
127 × 180cm
Edition of 5 + 2 A/Ps

 

Sir John Everett Millais (English, 1829-1896) 'Ophelia' 1851-52

 

Sir John Everett Millais (English, 1829-1896)
Ophelia
1851-52
Oil on canvas
Tate Britain

 

 

Tolarno Galleries is pleased to present Bill Henson’s most recent body of work.

Comprising 13 photographs depicting glowing interiors, stunning landscapes and softly lit figures, this exhibition shows, as David Malouf declared in 1988, that ‘Bill Henson is a maker of magic.’

Henson’s spellbinding new works push photography into the realm of painting. His masterly compositions, captured at twilight, remind us of Caravaggio. Hauntingly beautiful, they express a palpable tenderness through subtle gestures and exquisite modulations of colour. Such photographs tell us why Bill Henson is one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists.

Born in Melbourne, he had his first solo exhibition, at the age of 19, at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1975. Since then he has exhibited extensively in Australia and internationally. In 1995 he represented Australia at the Venice Biennale with his celebrated series of cut-screen photographs.

In 2003 his work appeared in Strangers: The First ICP Triennial of Photography and Video at the International Center of Photography, New York.

A major survey of his work was held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Victoria in 2005. This landmark exhibition attracted record visitor numbers for a contemporary art exhibition in Australia. The following year he exhibited a major body of work in Twilight: Photography in the magic Hour at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Press release from Tolarno Galleries

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled' 2010/11

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Untitled
2010/11
NH SH346 N10B
Archival inkjet pigment print
127 x 180 cm
Edition of 5

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled' 2009/10

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Untitled
2009/10
CL SH733 N35B
Archival inkjet pigment print
127 x 180 cm
Edition of 5

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled' 2009/10

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Untitled
2009/10
CL SH767 N17B
Archival inkjet pigment print
127 x 180 cm
Edition of 5

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled' 2009/10

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Untitled
2009/10
NH SH353 N33D
Archival inkjet pigment print
127 x 180 cm
Edition of 5

 

Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, 1452-1519) 'Study for the head of Christ for The Last Supper [Testa di Cristo]' c. 1494-5

 

Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, 1452-1519)
Study for the head of Christ for The Last Supper [Testa di Cristo]
c. 1494-5
Drawing on paper
40 x 32 cm
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milano

 

 

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

Opening hours:
Tue – Fri 10 am – 5 pm
Sat 1 pm – 5 pm

Tolarno Galleries website

Heide Museum of Art 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: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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