Posts Tagged ‘Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

16
Jun
16

Exhibition: ‘Bill Henson: Landscapes’ at Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum, Victoria

Exhibition dates: 30th April – 30th June 2016

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Bill Henson: Landscapes' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Bill Henson: Landscapes at the  Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum
Photo: © Marcus Bunyan and the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

 

 

Drawing on light

A magnificent installation from one of the world’s great photographers.

Why this artist is not having sell out retrospectives at MoMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou Paris or the Tate in London is beyond me. Is it because of continuing cultural cringe, or the fact that he’s not as well known in Europe and America?

Their loss is our gain.

The darkened room contains only eight images beautifully lit to create a wondrous, enveloping atmosphere. Henson’s night photographs emit light as though a result of the excitation of atoms by energy – the energy of the mind transferred to the light of place. A luminescence of thought is imaged in the photograph through the emission of light … produced not so much by physiological or electromagnetic processes as much as by a culturally informed mind that seems to bring forth its own light. And behold there is light.

As that eminent photographer Minor White used to opine when asked for technical information on his photographs in the back of popular American photography monthlies: for technical information the camera was creatively used.

For me, these are not images of ethereal malevolence or Australian anxiety about our environment and the ominous ordinary. They do not possess that feeling at all. These pictures are about an understanding and contemplation of light and place, a process which is in balance one with the other. Yes, the transient nature of earthly existence but more than that. The soft details of flowers in the grass, or the spatter of rain on water, not noticed until you really look at the image; or the shadow of a truck on a bridge underpass. In my mind I know where this is, in Gipps Street, Abbottsford near the train bridge… or so I believe in my imagination. All of these photographs have a feeling of a subtle vibration of energy in the universe. There is no malevolence here.

My only criticism of this, the first photographic exhibition at Castlemaine Art Gallery, is that there is not enough of it. There needed to be more of the work. It just felt a little light on. Another gallery was needed to make the installation experience fully enveloping. Having said that, congratulations must go to the artist and to gallery who are putting on some amazing exhibitions in the heart of regional Victoria.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All images © Marcus Bunyan and the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

 

 

Opening titles for the exhibition 'Bill Henson: Landscapes' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

 

Opening titles for the exhibition Bill Henson: Landscapes at the  Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum
Photo: © Marcus Bunyan and the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Bill Henson: Landscapes' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Bill Henson: Landscapes at the  Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum
Photo: © Marcus Bunyan and the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled 2005/2006' 2005-2006

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Untitled #9 2005/2006
2005-2006
CL SH541 N2
Type C photograph
127 x 180cm (sheet)
Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled 2005/2006' (detail) 2005-2006

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Untitled #9 2005/2006 (detail)
2005-2006
CL SH541 N2
Type C photograph
127 x 180cm (sheet)
Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Bill Henson: Landscapes' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Bill Henson: Landscapes at the  Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum with Untitled #21 2005/2006 at left and Untitled #9 2005/2006 at right
Photo: © Marcus Bunyan and the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled #21 2005-2006' (detail) 2005-2006

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Untitled #21 2005-2006 (detail)
2005-2006
CL SH541 N2
Type C photograph
127 x 180cm

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled 1999/2000' 1999-2000

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Untitled 1999-2000
1999-2000
Type C photograph
103.8 x 154.0cm (image) 126.8 x 179.9cm (sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds from the Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2005 (2005.501)
Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

 

 

“Our current exhibition, Bill Henson: Landscapes captures the haunting convergence of opposites; two worlds, darkness and light.

These dreamlike pictures pursue the Romantic project by engulfing the viewer in the urban or semi-rural sublime. Through these landscapes, we are immersed in a realm which offers an otherworldly view of the transient nature of earthly existence. The inky depths of the encroaching natural environment suggest a dark abyss, an ethereal malevolence that relates to both the artistic conventions of Renaissance landscape painting and, a uniquely Australian anxiety about our environment and the ominous ordinary.”

Text from the Castlemaine Art Gallery Facebook page

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Bill Henson: Landscapes' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Bill Henson: Landscapes' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Bill Henson: Landscapes' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

 

Installation photographs of the exhibition Bill Henson: Landscapes at the  Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum with Untitled #23, 1998/1999/2000 at right bottom
Photos: © Marcus Bunyan and the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled 2001-2002' 2001–2002

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Untitled 2001-2002
2001-2002
Type C photograph
127 x 180cm (sheet)
Collection of Annabel and Rupert Myer

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled 2001/02' (detail) 2001–02

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Untitled 2001-2002 (detail)
2001-2002
Type C photograph
127 x 180cm (sheet)
Collection of Annabel and Rupert Myer

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition 'Bill Henson: Landscapes' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

 

Installation photograph of the exhibition Bill Henson: Landscapes at the  Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum with Untitled #28 1998 at right
Photo: © Marcus Bunyan and the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled #28' (detail) 1998

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Untitled #28 (detail)
1998
Type C photograph
104 × 154cm

 

Bill Henson. 'Untitled #48' (detail) 1998/1999/2000

 

Bill Henson (Australian, b. 1955)
Untitled #48 (detail)
1998/1999/2000
Type C photograph
127 × 180cm

 

 

Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum
14 Lyttleton Street (PO Box 248)
Castlemaine, Vic 3450 Australia
Phone: (03) 5472 2292
Email: info@castlemainegallery.com

Opening hours:
Thursday – Sunday 12 – 4pm

Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum website

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29
Mar
16

Review: ‘Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan’ at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

Exhibition dates: 15th January – 15th April 2016

 

This is the most profound exhibition that I have seen so far this year. Simply put, the exhibition is magnificent … a must see for any human being with an ounce of understanding and compassion in their body.

While I am vehemently anti-war, and believe that we should have never have been in Afghanistan in the first place, these sensual and skeletal paintings represent the danger that these soldiers exposed themselves to in the line of duty. The sensuousness and vulnerability of their solitary, contorted poses – poses which they themselves chose to for Quilty to paint – reflect an actual event, such as taking cover to engage insurgents. That these naked poses then turn out to have a quiet eroticism embedded in them confirms the link between eroticism, death and sensuality as proposed by Georges Bataille. The three forms of eroticism (physical, emotional, religious) try to substitute continuity (life) for discontinuity (death). In these paintings the soldiers lay bare their inner self. They bring forth experiences that have been buried – their dissociation from the reality of what occurred, the experiences they have repressed, the post-traumatic stress – brought to the surface and examined in these paintings through the re-presentation of suppressed emotions, through a form of emotional eroticism, a primordial rising of eroticism, death and sensuality. An affirming act of life over death.

As an artist, Quilty intimately understands this process. I think a strong element of this exhbition is the feeling that there is something missing, that the range of concerns is lacking something. I suspect this is deliberate. Something is being withheld. And what is being withheld in the paintings is, I believe, narrative.

While there is an overarching text narrative – soldiers painted “after Afghanistan” – and individual paintings have titles such as Sergeant P, Troy Park, Trooper M and Trooper Daniel Westcott, these paintings could almost be of any human being who has been a soldier. Other than the specific triptych of Air Commodore John Oddie (and even then the portraits remind me of the ambiguity of Francis Bacon’s Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, 1953), these paintings could be of any soldier. As Gerhard Ricther observes, “You can only express in words what words are capable of expressing, what language can communicate. Painting has nothing to do with that.” After Richter, you might say that “there is no plan”, there is only feeling in the work of Ben Quilty, embodied through his brush. Here, I see links to the work of that great British painter, Francis Bacon.

“Bacon was deeply suspicious of narrative. For him, narrative seems to be the natural enemy of vision; it blinds… Bacon seems to propose an opposition between narrative as a product that can be endlessly reproduced, as re-presentation – the ‘boredom’ is inspired by the deja vu of repetition – and narrative as process, as sensation. Conveying a story implies that a pre-existing story, fictional or not, is transferred to an addressee. Narrative is then reduced to a kind of transferable message. Opposed to this ‘conveying of story’, ‘telling a story’ focuses on the activity or process of narrative. This process is not repeatable; it cannot be iterative because it takes place, it happens, whenever ‘story’ happens… Bacon’s hostility toward narrative is directed against narrative as product, as re-presentation, not against narrative as process.
(Bacon) does not paint characters, but figures. Figures, unlike characters, do not imply a relationship between an object outside the painting and the figure in the painting that supposedly illustrates that object. The figure is, and refers only to itself.”1

The figure is, and refers only to itself, and it is up to the viewer to actively interpret this telling of the story each time they view one of Quilty’s paintings. There is no transferable message.

Further, much like Bacon’s triptychs, Quilty’s paintings depict isolated figures or figural events on the panels. The figures are isolated in their space and their is never any clear interaction between the figures. “Bacon explains the use of the triptych as follows: ‘It helps to avoid storytelling if the figures are painted on three different canvases’ … The figures never fully become characters, while the figural events are never explained by being embedded in a sequence of events. The figures interact neither with each other nor with their environment. Although Bacon’s paintings display many signs which traditionally signify narrativity, by the same token any attempt to postulate narratives based on the paintings is countered.”2

In these paintings, Quilty does not turn away from the evidence of the soldiers before him who express through their bodies that life is violent. He does not attempt to save the viewer from such unpleasantries. As Bacon comments, “The feelings of desperation and unhappiness are more useful to an artist than the feeling of contentment, because desperation and unhappiness stretch your whole sensibility.” Quilty stretches his sensibility as an artist and as a human being by getting down and dirty with his subject matter, both physically and emotionally. In fact, I would say Quilty becomes his subject, so close does the artist get to the object of his attention (after all, this is also Quilty’s experience of Afghanistan, as much as it is the soldiers who he is painting. The artist is always present in the work). The closer you get to one of his paintings, the more the detail vanishes and the more the paint becomes like blood and guts. The artist presses up against his subject which dissolves into abstraction. A bravura tour de force of painting that it so confident in its intent… [that there are] huge stretches of bare white canvas as flesh, with these striking gestures for throat and nipple executed without fear in one stroke of the brush. The black hole appearing out of the side of the soldiers head reminds me of Carl Jung’s ambivalent feelings toward his unconscious shadow; and at one end of the gallery you have a black hole (Trooper Luke Korman, Tarin Kot, 2012, below) and at the other a white hole (Trooper Luke Korman, 2012, below), such are the energies of yin yang that flow through the lighter of the gallery spaces.

Using what the photographer Imogen Cunningham termed the ‘paradox of expansion via reduction’ – closing in on subject (either physically and/or mentally), the intensity and focus attendant to a clear way of seeing – allows Quilty’s work to be flooded with sensuality and reductive power. The horror of the body, of how fragile we are (Damien Hirst) is expressed through the visceral paint. The viewer’s mind tells the story, creates the horror, the closer you get to the work. As I said earlier, there is no transferable message, no actual interpretation but universal triggers that impinge on the viewer’s mind. Quilty plays with the flow of time and space, memory and war by disassociating himself from traditional narrative. As the quotation below from Peter Handke’s novel Across eloquently expresses it, it is a sense of “being-empty” (Zen), an empty form that is also full at the same time. Every object in Quilty’s opus moves into place and we pass over, quietly, into a place we have never been before, through paintings that picture the unknowable. Something we have never seen or felt before. In painting, I don’t think there are many artists that could have achieved what Quilty has with this body of work.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Word count: 1,125

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Many thankx to Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

  1. Ernst Van Alphen. Francis Bacon and the Loss of Self, 1992 quoted in “Francis Bacon and ‘Narrative’, the Natural Enemy of Vision,” on the ASX website, June 27 2013 [Online] Cited 29/03/2016.
  2. Ibid.,

 

 

“With the light of that moment, silence fell. The warming emptiness that I need so badly spread. My forehead no longer needed a supporting hand. It wasn’t exactly a warmth, but a radiance; it welled up rather than spread; not an emptiness, but a being-empty; not so much my being-empty as an empty form. And the empty form meant: story. But it also meant that nothing happened. When the story began, my trail was lost. Blurred. This emptiness was no mystery; but what made it effective remained a mystery. It was as tyrannical as it was appeasing; and its peace meant: I must not speak. Under its implosion, everything (every object) moved into place. “Emptiness!” The word was equivalent to the invocation of the Muse at the beginning of an epic. It provoked not a shudder but lightness and joy, and presented itself as a law: As it is now, so shall it be. In terms of image, it was a shallow river crossing.”

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Peter Handke. Across. Ralph Manheim (translator). Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000, p. 5.

 

“I do not want to avoid telling a story, but I want very, very much to do the thing that Valery said – to give the sensation without the boredom of its conveyance. And the moment the story enters, the boredom comes upon you.”

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Francis Bacon

 

 

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Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan at the Castlemaine Art Gallery with, from left to right, Sergeant P, after Afghanistan (2012); Trooper Daniel Westcott, after Afghanistan (2012); and Troy Park, after Afghanistan (2012)

 

 

Sergeant P, a Special Operations Task Group soldier, is a survivor of a Black Hawk helicopter crash that claimed the lives of three Australians. Some of the soldiers depicted in the other portraits witnessed the crash and were first on the scene to provide assistance. The memory of this experience, and the friends who did not make it, will stay with these men for a long time.

 

Ben Quilty. 'Trooper Daniel Westcott, after Afghanistan' 2012

 

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

 

Ben Quilty. 'Troy Park, after Afghanistan' 2012

 

Ben Quilty
Troy Park, after Afghanistan
2012
Oil on linen
Collection of the artist

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

 

Installation views of the exhibition Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan at the Castlemaine Art Gallery with, from left to right, Troy Park, after Afghanistan, no. 2 (2012); Trooper M, after Afghanistan (2012); and Trooper M, after Afghanistan, no. 2 (2012)

 

Ben Quilty. 'Troy Park, after Afghanistan, no. 2' 2012

 

Ben Quilty
Troy Park, after Afghanistan, no. 2
2012
Oil on linen
Collection of the artist

 

 

Quilty asked the soldiers to suggest a post that encapsulated some of the emotions that surrounded their experience in Afghanistan. Often the pose is quite contorted, as it reflects an actual event, such as taking cover to engage insurgents.

 

Ben Quilty. 'Trooper M, after Afghanistan' 2012

 

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

 

 

“You can’t really stop out there. You have to keep doing your job and keep moving forward … There is no time, until you get home, to stop and think about it.”

Trooper M

 

Ben Quilty. 'Trooper M, after Afghanistan, no. 2' 2012 (detail)

 

Ben Quilty
Trooper M, after Afghanistan, no. 2 (detail)
2012
Oil on linen
Collection of the artist

 

 

“Sitting for Ben is therapeutic; it does get a lot of stuff off your chest. And actually seeing your portrait on canvas, I think for me it’s definitely a chapter that I can close and leave there.”

Trooper M

 

Ben Quilty. 'Bushmaster' 2012

 

Ben Quilty
Bushmaster
2012
Aerosol and oil on linen
Donated by Ben Quilty through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program in 2013

 

 

Portraiture for Quilty can also take a vehicle as its subject. This destroyed Bushmaster reflects the soldiers’ identity and is a vestige of their physical experience. They risk their lives while carrying out their duties in these versatile military vehicles.

“I met a young man who’d been in the back of a Bushmaster that had blown up. The Bushmaster is the big armoured four-wheel-drive vehicle that’s saving a lot of Australian lives, but even so the explosion caused every single you man inside that vehicle to suffer from concussion and one of them was blown out of the gun turret and landed in front of the vehicle among possibly more hidden explosive devices.”

Ben Quilty

 

Ben Quilty. 'Captain S, after Afghanistan' 2012

 

Ben Quilty
Captain S, after Afghanistan
2012
Oil on linen
Acquired under the official art scheme 2012

 

 

“I think when Ben paints, he’s not looking for what’s on the outside … He’s more after what they’re feeling o what they’ve been through … He’s looking at the inner instead of just the outer.”

Captain S

 

Ben Quilty. 'Lance Corporal M, after Afghanistan' 2012

 

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

 

Ben Quilty. 'Lance Corporal M, after Afghanistan' 2012 (detail)

 

Ben Quilty
Lance Corporal M, after Afghanistan (detail)
2012
Oil on linen
Collection of the artist

 

 

The naked portraits have a sensuousness and vulnerability in their solitary, contorted poses. The rough surface signifies the uniform and body armour that have been stripped away in front of us, and them. We and they recognise what they have endured and achieved.

“I wanted [this soldier] to be naked, showing not only his physical strength but also the frailty of human skin and the darkness of the emotional weight of the war.”

Ben Quilty

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Installation view of drawings from the exhibition Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan at the Castlemaine Art Gallery including, at bottom left, Captain M II, Tarin Kot (October 2011, below) and third from left top, Waiting, Tarin Kot (October 2011, below)

 

 

“This very wild place”

Sitting and talking with the Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, Quilty became intrigued by their experiences. He came to feel responsible for telling the stories of these young men and women.

“I started doing drawings of the soldiers, and hearing their stories about their experiences of being in this very wild place. I realised that I needed to just sit with them … making portraits of these guys in Tarin Kot or wherever I was … getting them to sit still and talk to me about their experience. Those little drawings are a reminder to me of the time that I spent with those people. I hoped that there’d be some remnant of that experience that I could then draw out … to put into the paintings when I returned to Australia.”

Ben Quilty

The trust that Quilty developed with these soldiers in Afghanistan was strong enough to continue at home in Quilty’s studio, where he invited some to sit for larger portraits.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

(top row, first three from left)

Ben Quilty
Private C, Tarin Kot
October 2011
Drawn at Tarin Kot, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
Coloured felt tip pen on paper
Acquired under the official art scheme 2012

Ben Quilty
Trooper M, Special Forces, Tarin Kot
October 2011
Drawn at Tarin Kot, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
Coloured felt tip pen, pencil and ink wash on paper
Collection of the artist

Ben Quilty
Captain Kate Porter
27 October 2011
Drawn at Tarin Kot, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
Coloured pencil and ink wash on paper
Acquired under the official art scheme 2012

(bottom row, first three from left)

Ben Quilty
Sergeant M II, Tarin Kot
October 2011
Drawn at Tarin Kot, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
Pencil and ink wash on paper
Collection of the artist

Ben Quilty
Chinook pilot, Kandahar Airfield
October 2011
Drawn at Kandahar Airfield, Kandahar province, Afghanistan
Pencil and ink wash on paper
Collection of the artist

Ben Quilty
Brigadier General Noorullah, Afghan National Army, Tarin Kot
22 October 2011
Drawn at Tarin Kot, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
Coloured felt tip pen on paper
Acquired under the official art scheme 2012

 

 

While in Tarin Kot, Quilty attended a marching out parade of 400 Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers who had completed training under the Australian Mentoring Task Fore. There he met a senior ANA commander, Brigadier General Noorullah. Just days later, three Australian soldiers were killed at a similar training parade being held at Forward Operating Base Sorkh Bed (aka Pacemaker). Quilty learnt of the incident the day after he left Afghanistan, giving him an even greater sense of the dangers that the soldiers he met face daily.

 

Ben Quilty. 'Captain Kate Porter' 27 October 2011

 

Ben Quilty
Captain Kate Porter
27 October 2011
Drawn at Tarin Kot, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
Coloured pencil and ink wash on paper
Acquired under the official art scheme 2012

 

 

Quilty wanted to meet a cross-section of people serving in Afghanistan – soldiers driving Bushmasters, Chinook pilots, Special Forces soldiers, and both men and women of all ranks – to try to understand who makes up the Australian Defence Force. He met Captain Kate Porter at Tarin Kot. There he spoke to her about her experiences as female in the very masculine community of the Special Operations Task Group, as well as her general experience as a soldier in Afghanistan.

 

Ben Quilty. 'Trooper M, Special Forces, Tarin Kot' October 2011

 

Ben Quilty
Trooper M, Special Forces, Tarin Kot
October 2011
Drawn at Tarin Kot, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
Coloured felt tip pen, pencil and ink wash on paper
Collection of the artist

 

Ben Quilty. 'Waiting, Tarin Kot' October 2011

 

Ben Quilty
Waiting, Tarin Kot
October 2011
Drawn at Tarin Kot, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
Coloured felt tip pen on paper
Acquired under the official art scheme 2012

 

Ben Quilty. 'Captain M II, Tarin Kot' October 2011

 

Ben Quilty
Captain M II, Tarin Kot
October 2011
Drawn at Tarin Kot, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan
Pencil and ink wash on paper
Collection of the artist

 

 

“Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan is an extraordinary Australian War Memorial Touring Exhibition by one of the nation’s most incisive artists, and is of great relevance to all Australians. The exhibition officially opens at Castlemaine Art Gallery on Friday 15 January 2016.

The exhibition itself was the result of the Archibald Prize-winning artist’s three-week tour across Afghanistan in October 2011. Engaged as an Official War Artist, his purpose was to record and interpret the experiences of Australians deployed as part of Operation Slipper in Kabul, Kandahar, and Tarin Kot in Afghanistan and at Al Minhad Airbase in the United Arab Emirates. In fulfilling his brief, Quilty spoke with many Australian servicemen and women, gaining an insight into their experiences whilst serving in the region, and ultimately leaving with an overwhelming need to tell their stories.

Quilty recently spoke on ANZAC Day 2015 and paid tribute not only to those who did not return from Afghanistan and their grieving families, but also to “the young men and women who live amongst us who have paid so dearly and will quietly wear the thick cloak of trauma for many years to come, after Afghanistan.”

The exhibition is a must see as Quilty is arguably one of Australia’s greatest living painters, and this exhibition, with its intense and emotional subject matter is particularly important to Castlemaine, a town with a history of young men and women serving their country far from home. The exhibition has been very well received across the country with over 70,000 visitors attending the works when on display most recently in Darwin. Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial believes Quilty should be considered one of Australia’s great official war artists.

“Ben Quilty’s works follows a truly great tradition at the Australian War Memorial of appointing artists to record and interpret the Australian experience of war.”

“Ben brought to this task all his brilliance, sensitivity and compassion. The works he produced will leave Australians a legacy which informs them not only about the impact of war on our country, but even more importantly, about the effects on the men and women he has depicted,” said Dr Nelson.

Dr Jan Savage, President of the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum Committee of Management said the exhibition, “was significant in understanding the impact of war on serving members of the Australian armed forces and I encourage visitors to attend this most important exhibition.”

Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan is on display at Castlemaine Art Gallery from 15 January until 15 April 2016.

An Australian War Memorial Touring Exhibition, proudly sponsored by Thales.”

Text from the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum website

 

Ben Quilty. 'Tarin Kot, Hilux' 2012

 

Ben Quilty
Tarin Kot, Hilux
2012
Oil on linen
Collection of the artist

 

Ben Quilty. 'Kandahar' 2012

 

Ben Quilty
Kandahar
2012
Oil on linen
Acquired under the official art scheme 2012

 

Ben Quilty. 'Kandahar' 2012 (detail)

 

Ben Quilty
Kandahar (detail)
2012
Oil on linen
Acquired under the official art scheme 2012

 

 

Kandahar Airfield is a multinational vase with approximately 35,000 people from the International Security Assistance Fore, aid organisations, and a pool of local civilian staff. Weapons are carried at all times by both military and civilian personnel, creating a tense atmosphere with a violent undercurrent. Quilty described Kandahar as being a cross between the worlds of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and Catch 22, a surreal, dusty, and violent place. “For the first week in Kandahar, I basically felt like I was dodging rockets. The first night we landed there, two or three rockets landed inside the compound.”

This painting was Quilty’s first visceral response on his return from Afghanistan and i sums up his emotions, particularly his personal experience of Kandahar and being a part of the maelstrom of war.

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan at the Castlemaine Art Gallery with, at centre, Tarin Kot, Hilux (2012) and, at right, Kandahar (2012)

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Installation views of the exhibition Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

 

Returning from war

“You can’t take the experiences out of your head.
You can’t take the damages out of your head.”

John Oddie

 

On his return to Australia, Ben Quilty contacted Air Commodore John Oddie (Ret’d), whom he had met during his Afghanistan deployment, to invite him to sit for a portrait in his studio. From February to October 2011, Oddie had been the Deputy Commander of Australian forces in the Middle east, a position of immense responsibility.

Quilty eventually produced three portraits over five months. These works reveal a man returning from war and its burden of responsibility, exhausted emotionally and mentally, and his progress towards a more positive view of life and of himself as a survivor.

 

Ben Quilty. 'Air Commodore John Oddie, after Afghanistan, no. 3' 2012

 

Ben Quilty
Air Commodore John Oddie, after Afghanistan, no. 3
2012
Oil on linen
Collection of the artist

 

Ben Quilty. 'Air Commodore John Oddie, after Afghanistan, no. 3' 2012 (detail)

 

Ben Quilty
Air Commodore John Oddie, after Afghanistan, no. 3 (detail)
2012
Oil on linen
Collection of the artist

 

 

“I don’t necessarily see beauty, I see insight in what Ben does. That’s reflected in the way he paints … I think his later portraits, done after he’s got to know us better, are different from the raw emotion of the first ones.”

John Oddie

 

Ben Quilty. 'Air Commodore John Oddie, after Afghanistan, no. 1' 2012

 

Ben Quilty
Air Commodore John Oddie, after Afghanistan, no. 1
2012
Oil on linen
Collection of the artist

 

 

“With through a lack of insight or through an unwillingness … I wasn’t always admitting the truth to myself about my life. Ben really took that out and put it on a table in front of me like a three-course dinner and said, well, how about that? And you know, I sort of thought well, I’m not going to come to this restaurant again in a hurry!”

John Oddie

 

Ben Quilty. 'Air Commodore John Oddie, after Afghanistan, no. 2' 2012

 

Ben Quilty
Air Commodore John Oddie, after Afghanistan, no. 2
2012
Oil on linen
Collection of the artist

 

 

“He’s got this one little gash of paint and it brings out this wry smile that I didn’t even know I had … When I stood back and had a look, I was just stunned at the honesty of the painting – until then I hadn’t really been fully honest with myself about what I was feeling.”

John Oddie

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Introductory text from the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Introductory titles and text for the exhibition Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Ben Quilty. 'Trooper Daniel Spain, Tarin Kot' 2012

 

Ben Quilty
Trooper Daniel Spain, Tarin Kot
2012
Oil on linen diptych
Collection of the artist

 

 

In some of the works, Quilty has used dramatic symbols to represent the emotional weight and the sense of emptiness he felt some soldiers brought home with them after Afghanistan. The black hole motif also reflects his own feelings of anxiety and uncertainty during his time there.

“I had such extreme feelings about the smell, sound, emotions of being in Afghanistan … I wanted to convey this.”

 

Ben Quilty. 'Trooper Luke Korman' 2012

 

Ben Quilty
Trooper Luke Korman
2012
Aerosol and oil on linen
Acquired under the official art scheme 2012

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery

 

Installation view of the exhibition Ben Quilty: After Afghanistan at the Castlemaine Art Gallery with, on the far wall, Trooper Luke Korman, Tarin Kot (2012, left) and SOTG, after Afghanistan (2011, right)

 

Ben Quilty. 'Trooper Luke Korman, Tarin Kot' 2012

 

Ben Quilty
Trooper Luke Korman, Tarin Kot
2012
Aerosol and oil on linen diptych
Collection of the artist

 

Ben Quilty. 'SOTG, after Afghanistan' 2011

 

Ben Quilty
SOTG, after Afghanistan
2011
Oil on linen diptych
Acquired under the official art scheme 2012

 

 

As part of his initial idea for the war artist commission, Quilty photographed soldiers of the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan in the same pose. He asked each of them to face the sun with their eyes closed, then open them and stare into the blinding light. At that instant Quilty would take the photograph. “To me, this symbolises what they’re facing, something immense, overwhelming.”

Back in Australia, Quilty attempted to work from these photographs, and created a handful of portraits. He was dissatisfied with the results. Determined to re-establish a personal connection with his subjects, he invited some of them to sit for portraits in his studio.

 

 

Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum
14 Lyttleton Street (PO Box 248)
Castlemaine, Vic 3450 Australia
Phone: (03) 5472 2292
Email: info@castlemainegallery.com

Opening hours:
Monday        10am – 5pm
Tuesday       CLOSED
Wednesday   10am – 5pm
Thursday      10am – 5pm
Friday          10am – 5pm
Saturday      12pm – 5pm
Sunday        12pm – 5pm

Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum website

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12
Nov
15

Exhibition: ‘David Moore: Glimpses of Chewton’ and other art at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

Exhibition dates: 31st October – 31st December 2015

 

David Moore. 'Winter sky' 2015

 

David Moore (Australian, b. 1965)
Winter sky
2015
Oil on linen
© Courtesy of the artist and James Makin Gallery, Melbourne

 

 

The State of Victoria has some truly wonderful regional galleries. I hadn’t been to Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum for a few years and I had forgotten what an absolutely stunning gallery it is. Stylish art deco building, diffused natural light filling the expansive spaces of the wood floored galleries, displaying interesting art works from their collection. I particularly liked the Edward J Shearsby, Ethel Carrick, John Perceval and, my favourite, a most glorious Sydney Long Pastoral scene (1909, below).

To top off an inspirational visit, there was the most beautiful exhibition of small oil on canvas and oil on cedar panel paintings by the artist David Moore: Glimpses of Chewton. These works had me entranced. Comprised of three years work, these paintings are an exploration of the region by the artist who bought a house in the area with his partner. Moore set out to discover Chewton through driving the local roads and by doing small paintings of the views… not the big vista but the small glimpse. As I said to Moore in a recent telephone conversation, small vibrations of energy.

You can really feel that the artist has captured the frequency – and by that I mean the song line – and spiritual energy of the landscape. These are strong paintings with sensuous brush work yet they are quiet and still in their presence before you – sensitive and beautiful. I love the size of them, like small jewels, and they draw you in and hold you. The gridded hang is especially effective. For an artist to feel these vibrations of energy is one thing, for it then to be transferred into the art is an entirely, and difficult, other. The correspondence between Moore’s work and the Sydney Long Pastoral scene is quite delicious to contemplate. Apparently, these were supposed to be preparatory sketches for larger studio based work, which will eventuate over time, but once Moore had started on these “glimpses” he kept going, creating this body of work. I am so thankful that he did, and I am grateful that I visited the gallery to see them. They made my day.

Do yourself a favour, take a day trip to Castlemaine. It’s well worth the visit.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum and David Moore for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Installation photograph of David Moore's exhibition 'Glimpses of Chewton' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

Installation photograph of David Moore's exhibition 'Glimpses of Chewton' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

Installation photograph of David Moore's exhibition 'Glimpses of Chewton' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

Installation photograph of David Moore's exhibition 'Glimpses of Chewton' at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

 

Installation photograph of David Moore’s exhibition Glimpses of Chewton at the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

 

David Moore. 'Hillside shadows' 2015

 

David Moore (Australian, b. 1965)
Hillside shadows
2015
Oil on cedar panel
© Courtesy of the artist and James Makin Gallery, Melbourne

 

David Moore. 'Clear sky' 2015

 

David Moore (Australian, b. 1965)
Clear sky
2015
Oil on cedar panel
© Courtesy of the artist and James Makin Gallery, Melbourne

 

David Moore. 'Approaching storm' 2015

 

David Moore (Australian, b. 1965)
Approaching storm
2015
Oil on linen
© Courtesy of the artist and James Makin Gallery, Melbourne

 

David Moore. 'Stormy sky' 2015

 

David Moore (Australian, b. 1965)
Stormy sky
2015
Oil on linen
© Courtesy of the artist and James Makin Gallery, Melbourne

 

 

David Moore: Glimpses of Chewton

An exhibition of works painted in and around the town of Chewton, in North Central Victoria. Local artist David Moore is one of Australia’s foremost painters and was a recipient of the A.M.E Bale Residental Scholarship and the Norman Kaye award. He teaches painting in Melbourne, and is represented by Chrysalis Galleries in Melbourne.

 

About the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum

Founded in 1913, the Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum has a unique collection of Australian art and fascinating historical artefacts reflecting the early history of the district. The beautiful art deco building, dating from 1931 with several extensions since then, is a work of art itself, with purpose-built galleries, lit largely by natural lighting.

The Gallery and Museum is fully accredited by Museums Australia. It is governed by private trustees and managed by a committee elected by subscribers. State and local government support is provided, and the Gallery has a strong tradition of support from benefactors, local families, artists and patrons.

 

Sydney Long. 'Pastoral scene' 1909

Sydney Long. 'Pastoral scene' 1909

 

Sydney Long (Australian, 1871-1955)
Pastoral scene
1909
Oil on cardboard
Gift of Lady Mary Spencer 1949

 

 

Formerly known as Narrabeen landscape, this painting has been retitled due to uncertainty in its depiction of Narrabeen.

With paintings such as this, Long sought to produce works of the most imaginative kind from his surroundings. A panoramic vista, the artist focused on the patterns of light and shade over the landscape to create a sense of depth, leading the viewer’s eye to the blue hills in the background.

 

Sydney Long. 'Pastoral scene' 1909 (detail)

 

Sydney Long (Australian, 1871-1955)
Pastoral scene (detail)
1909
Oil on cardboard
Gift of Lady Mary Spencer 1949

 

Edward J Shearsby. 'An Impression of Collins Street' c. 1910

 

Edward J Shearsby (active c. 1900-30 Melbourne)
An Impression of Collins Street
c. 1910
Oil on board
Estate of Barbara H Gordon 1999

 

 

The high viewpoint and bustling street are similar to Pissarro’s Boulevard Montmartre, morning, cloudy weather 1897 in the National Gallery of Victoria. Impressionism had an enormous influence on Australian artists from the late 19th century, mostly in the form of reproductions brought back by expatriate artists.

 

Edward J Shearsby. 'An Impression of Collins Street' c. 1910 (detail)

 

Edward J Shearsby (active c. 1900-30 Melbourne)
An Impression of Collins Street (detail)
c. 1910
Oil on board
Estate of Barbara H Gordon 1999

 

Frederick McCubbin. 'Golden sunlight' 1914

 

Frederick McCubbin (Australian, 1855-1917)
Golden sunlight
1914
Oil on canvas
Gift of Dame Nellie Melba 1923

 

Frederick McCubbin. 'Golden sunlight' 1914 (detail)

 

Frederick McCubbin (Australian, 1855-1917)
Golden sunlight (detail)
1914
Oil on canvas
Gift of Dame Nellie Melba 1923

 

 

The setting is below the artist’s family home on the Yarra River, South Yarra. Instead of the sight of the industrial stone crusher on the opposite bank, McCubbin has created an Arcadian fantasy of colour and light. Dame Nellie Melba possibly bought the work when she visited the McCubbin’s during an Australian tour. Melba’s father, David Mitchell, had an interest in a local Newstead mine and she visited the Gallery collection prior to donating.

The artist has used a ‘scumble’ technique: building up many layers of thinly applied paint giving a transparent effect. The composition was fist sketched in white and sienna, followed by pigment mixed on the palette and applied with a knife and brush handle to keep the colours pure. Later the work was rubbed with a pumice stone to give a smooth surface. Colours from different layers were allowed to show through. Highlights were applied over the top with paint straight from the tube.

 

E Phillips Fox (1865-1915) 'On the Mediterranean Coast' c. 1911

 

E Phillips Fox (Australian, 1865-1915)
On the Mediterranean Coast
c. 1911
Oil on canvas
Presented 1935

 

Ethel Carrick (1872-1952) 'Untitled (Royal Avenue, Versailles)' c. 1909

 

Ethel Carrick (Australian, 1872-1952)
Untitled (Royal Avenue, Versailles)
c. 1909
Oil on panel
Gift of Major B R F MacNay 1978

 

Ethel Carrick (1872-1952) 'Untitled (Royal Avenue, Versailles)' c. 1909 (detail)

 

Ethel Carrick (Australian, 1872-1952)
Untitled (Royal Avenue, Versailles) (detail)
c. 1909
Oil on panel
Gift of Major B R F MacNay 1978

 

Lina Bryans. 'Plum Tree' 1947

 

Lina Bryans (Australian, 1909-2000)
Plum Tree
1947
Oil on composition board
Purchased with funds from the Felix Cappy Bequest in his memory, 2014

 

Probably painted at Stanhope House, Eltham by the font gate near the cedar tree overlooking the old orchard on the property.

 

Lina Bryans. 'Plum Tree' 1947 (detail)

 

Lina Bryans (Australian, 1909-2000)
Plum Tree (detail)
1947
Oil on composition board
Purchased with funds from the Felix Cappy Bequest in his memory, 2014

 

 

A modernist, Bryans was associated with Frater’s circle which included Ada May Plante and Isabel Hunter Tweddle. Her first works were painted early in 1937 and Basil Burdett selected her Backyards, South Yarra in 1938 for the Herald Exhibition of Outstanding Pictures of 1937. Her work was included in Burdett’s article in Studio (1938) and in the exhibition, Art of Australia 1788-1941, shown at MoMA (New York) in 1941. Bryans went to live in Darebin Bridge House, a converted coach-house at Darebin, in the late 1930s, joining Ada May Plante. Bryans subsequently purchased it using her inheritance, painted and decorated it distinctively and named it “The Pink Hotel”. It became an artists’ colony for Bryans, Plante, Frater, Ambrose Hallen and Ian Fairweather and other artists. It was a centre for a group of writers associated with the journal Meanjin, from whom Lina’s son Edward developed his interest in journalism.

In 1948 Bryans had her first solo exhibition. It included Nude (1945, NGV) and Portrait of Nina Christesen (1947), both painted at Darebin, which she sold later that year and moved to Harkaway, near Berwick. She took a few lessons from George Bell in 1948 and from Mary Cockburn Mercer in 1951. In 1953 she went to America, then to France where she studied for a few months at La Grande Chaumière and visited Mercer in the south of France. Back at Melbourne, she once more became prominent in the city’s artistic and cultural milieu.

Landscape painting was always important to Bryans and throughout the 1960s and 1970s, it became more dramatic and abstract. In 1965 she visited Central Australia and painted extremely colourful modernist paintings of the Australian bush. She was awarded the 1966 Crouch Prize for Embedded Rock (1964, BFAG). Her major work Landscape Quartet from her second solo exhibition, held at Georges Gallery in 1966, was purchased by the National Gallery of Victoria, which awarded her a retrospective in 1982, held at Banyule Gallery in 1982, which subsequently toured regional galleries in Victoria.

Nevertheless, as Forwood notes (2001), her portraits ‘best reveal her contribution to Australian art’, moreover, ‘her seventy-three portraits of friends engaged in the world of art and letters form a pictorial biography of Bryans herself’. Her well-known portrait of Australian writer Jean May Campbell, The Babe is Wise, (named after Campbell’s novel of the year before) was painted in 1940. It is held in the National Gallery of Victoria collection.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

John Perceval (1923-2000) 'Double Sunset' 1961

 

John Perceval (Australian, 1923-2000)
Double Sunset
1961
Oil on composition board
Purchased 1962

 

John Perceval (1923-2000) 'Double Sunset' 1961 (detail)

 

John Perceval (Australian, 1923-2000)
Double Sunset (detail)
1961
Oil on composition board
Purchased 1962

 

Charles Blackman (b. 1928) 'Dream Image' 1963

 

Charles Blackman (Australian, 1928-2018)
Dream Image
1963
Oil on canvas on composition board
Purchased 1964

 

Charles Blackman (b. 1928) 'Dream Image' 1963 (detail)

 

Charles Blackman (Australian, 1928-2018)
Dream Image (detail)
1963
Oil on canvas on composition board
Purchased 1964

 

View of Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum with works in situ

View of Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum with works in situ

 

Two views of Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum with works in situ

 

Clifton Pugh (1924-1990) 'The Crab Catcher' 1958

 

Clifton Pugh (Australian, 1924-1990)
The Crab Catcher
1958
Oil on composition board
Purchased 1958

 

Robert Jacks (1943-2014) 'Goddess' 1959/60

 

Robert Jacks (Australian, 1943-2014)
Goddess
1959-60
Bronze
Gift of the artist 2001

 

Clifford Last (1918-1993) 'Family Group' 1958

 

Clifford Last (Australian, 1918-1993)
Family Group
1958
Limed Pine
Gift of the Subscribers 1958

 

 

Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum
14 Lyttleton Street (PO Box 248)
Castlemaine, Vic 3450 Australia
Phone: (03) 5472 2292
Email: info@castlemainegallery.com

Opening hours:
Thursday – Sunday 12 – 4pm

Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum website

David Moore Facebook page

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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, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor 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.

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