Posts Tagged ‘Niagara Galleries

02
Jan
13

Melbourne’s magnificent eleven 2012

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Here’s my pick of the eleven best artists/exhibitions which featured on the Art Blart blog in 2012. Enjoy!

Marcus

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1/ Review: The work of Robyn Hosking, AT_SALON at Anita Traverso Gallery, Richmond

6th March – 24th March 2012

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Robyn Hosking
The Wing Walker
2011
Mixed media

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Robyn Hosking
The Wing Walker (detail)
2011
Mixed media

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… My favourite has to be The Wing Walker (2011) as an irate Julia Gillard tries to get rid of Kevin Rudd once and for all, even poking him with a stick to push him off the edge of the biplane. Balanced on a slowly revolving turntable with the world at its centre, this political merry-go round is panacea for the soul for people sick of politicians. This is brilliant political satire. The planes are all ends up and even when Julia thinks she has got rid of Kevin there he is, hanging on for dear life from the undercarriage of one of the planes…

Reminding me of the fantasy creatures of Tom Moore, these whimsical manifestations deal with serious, life changing and challenging issues with purpose, feeling and a wicked sense of humour. I really enjoyed this art (and joy is the correct word) because it takes real world issues, melds fantasy and pointed observation and reflects it back, as the artist observes, in a funfair’s distorted mirror. Magic!

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2/ Review: Martin Parr: In Focus at Niagara Galleries, Richmond, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 6th March – 31st March 2012

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This is a fine exhibition of the work of celebrated English photographer Martin Parr at Niagara Galleries, Richmond, albeit with one proviso. The mainly large colour prints are handsomely displayed in plain white frames within the gallery space and are taken from his well known series: Last Resort, Luxury, New British and British Food. Parr’s work is at its best when he concentrates on the volume of space within the image plane and the details that emerge from such a concentrated visualisation – whether it be the tension points within the image, assemblage of colour, incongruity of dress, messiness of childhood or philistine nature of luxury.

And so it goes. The dirt under the fingernails of the child eating a doughnut, the lurid colours of the popsicle and jacket of the kid with dribble on his face, all fantastic… They are joyous paeans to the quirky, incongruous worlds in which we live and circulate. They evidence life itself in all its orthogonal absurdity.

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Martin Parr
England. New Brighton.
From the series Last Resort
1983 – 1985
Pigment print
Edition of 5
102 x 127 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

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Martin Parr
England. New Brighton.
From the series Last Resort
1983 – 1985
Pigment print
Edition of 5
102 x 127 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

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3/ Review: Tourist #5: Disappearing Project 1 – 41 by Nicola Loder at Helen Gory Galerie, Prahran, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 14th March – 7th April 2012

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I have always loved the work of Nicola Loder ever since I saw her solo exhibition Child 1-175: A Nostalgia for the Present at Stop 22 Gallery in St Kilda in 1996. This exhibition is no exception. Loder is the consummate professional, her work is as imaginative and intriguing as ever and there has been a consistent thematic development of ideas within her work over a long period of time. These ideas relate to the nature of seeing and being seen, the mapping of identity and the process of its (dis)appearance…

Loder’s exquisitely sensuous description of disappearance allows us to see the phenomenal word afresh. I look forward with a sense of anticipation to the next voyage of discovery the artist will take me on.

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Tourist #5: Disappearing Project 1 – 41 by Nicola Loder, installation photograph at Helen Gorie Galerie

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Nicola Loder
Tourist #5: Disappearing Project 1-41 (no 11)
2012
Polyester thread, muslin
86 x 69cm

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4/ Review: Jane Brown / Australian Gothic at Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 25th April – 12th May 2012

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Jane Brown
Big Trout, New South Wales
2010
Museo silver rag print
59 x 46 cm

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Jane Brown
Adelong, New South Wales
2011
Fibre based, silver gelatin print
16.5 x 20.5 cm

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This is a good exhibition of small, darkly hewn, traditionally printed silver gelatin photographs, beautifully hung in the small gallery at Edmund Pearce and lit in the requisite, ambient manner. There are some outstanding photographs in the exhibition. The strongest works are the surrealist tinged, film noir-ish mise-en-scènes, the ones that emphasise the metaphorical darkness of the elements gathered upon the stage. Photographs such as Big TroutThe Female Factory, Adelong, New South Wales and Captain’s Flat Hotel, New South Wales really invoke a feeling of unhomely (or unheimlich), where nature is out of kilter. These images unsettle our idea of Oztraliana, our perceived sense of Self and our place in the world. They disrupt normal transmission; they transmutate the seen environment, transforming appearance, nature and form.

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5/ Review: Jacqui Stockdale: The Quiet Wild at Helen Gory Galerie, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 18th April – 19th May 2012

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Jacqui Stockdale
Rama-Jaara the Royal Shepherdess
2012
Type C Print
100 x 78cm

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Jacqui Stockdale
Lagunta Man, Leeawuleena
2012
Type C Print
100 x 78cm

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These are incredibly humorous, magical and symbolic photographs. A thought came into my mind when I was in the gallery surrounded by the work: for me they represented a vision of the Major Arcana of the Tarot (for example Jaguar Hombre could be seen as an inverted version of the Hanged Man with his foot in a figure four, the Hanged Man symbolising the need to just be in the world, yielding his mind and body to the Universal flow). The Major Arcana deal with the human condition, each card representing the joys and sorrows every man and woman can experience in a lifetime. In a way Stockdale offers us her own set of subversive Major Arcana, images that transgress the boundaries of the colonial vernacular, offering the viewer a chance to explore the heart of the quiet wild.

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6/ Review: Littoral by Kristian Laemmle-Ruff at Colour Factory Gallery, Fitzroy

Exhibition dates: 4th May – 26th May 2012

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It was such a joy then to walk around the corner from the CCP to the Colour Factory Gallery and view the exhibition Littoral by emerging artist Kristian Laemmle-Ruff. This is one of the best, if not the best, “photography” exhibition I have seen so far this year. As soon as you walk into the simple, elegant gallery you are surrounded by fourteen large scale horizontal photographs that are suffused with colour variations bouncing across the gallery – here a blue, there a green, now a lush orange palette. The effect is much like Monet’s waterlilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris; seated in the middle of the four curved paintings you are surrounded by large daubs of paint of various hues that have an elemental effect – resonances of earth, air, water, fire – on the viewer. The same affection of colour and space can be found in Laemmle-Ruff’s photographs.

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Kristian Laemmle-Ruff
Olympic Stadium
2012
Type C print
100cm x 67cm

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Kristian Laemmle-Ruff
Truck in Safi
2010
Type C print
100cm x 67cm

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7/ Review: Lost & Found: Family Photos Swept away by the 3.11 East Japan Tsunami at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 1st June – 15th July 2012

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What we are left with in these images are vestiges of presence, remnants or traces of people that have passed on. In a kind of divine intervention, these photographs ask the viewer questions about the one fact that we cannot avoid in our lives, our own mortality, and what remains after we pass on. We can never know these people and places, just as we can never know the place and time of our death – when our “time” is up – but these photographs awaken in us a subconscious remembering: that we may be found (in life), then lost (through death), then found again in the gaze of the viewer looking at the photographs in the future present. We are (dis)continuous beings.

There is no one single reading of these photographs for “there are only competing narratives and interpretations of a world that cannot be wholly, accurately described.” These indescribable photographs impinge on our consciousness calling on us to remember even as the speed of contemporary life asks us to forget. This ethical act of looking, of mourning and remembering, of paying homage to presence acknowledges that we choose not to let pass into the dark night of the soul these traces of our forebears, for each emanation is deeply embedded within individual and cultural memory.

These photographs are a contemporary form of Western ‘dreaming’ in which we feel a link to the collective human experience. In this reification, we bear witness to the (re)assemblance of life, the abstract made (subconsciously) concrete, as material thing. These images of absent presence certainly reached out and touched my soul. Vividly, I choose to remember rather than to forget.

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8/ Review: Berlinde De Bruyckere: We are all Flesh at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 2nd June – 29th July 2012

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The main work We Are All Flesh (2012) reminded me of a version of the game The Hanged Man (you know, the one where you have to guess the letters of a word and if you don’t get the letter, the scaffold and the hanged man are drawn). The larger of the two hanging pieces featured two horse skins of different colours intertwined like a ying yang paux de deux. Psychologically the energy was very heavy. The use of straps to suspend the horses was inspired. Memories of Rembrandt’s The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp and The Godfather rose to the surface. My favourite piece was 019 (2007). Elegant in its simplicity this beautiful display case from a museum was dismantled and shipped over to Australia in parts and then reassembled here. The figurative pieces of wood, made of wax, seemed like bodies drained of blood displayed as specimens. The blankets underneath added an element of comfort. The whole piece was restrained and beautifully balanced. Joseph Beuys would have been very proud.

The “visceral gothic” contained in the exhibition was very evident. I liked the artist’s trembling and shuddering. Her narratives aroused a frisson, a moment of intense danger and excitement, the sudden terror of the risen animal

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Berlinde De Bruyckere
We Are All Flesh
2012
Treated horse skin, epoxy, iron armature
280 x 160 x 100 cm
Courtesy the artist, Hauser & Wirth and Galleria Continua

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Berlinde De Bruyckere
019
2007
Wax, epoxy, metal, glass, wood, blankets
293.5 x 517 x 77.5 cm
Private Collection, Paris

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9/ Review: Light Works at NGV International, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 23rd March – 16th September 2012

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This is an intimate and stimulating photographic exhibition at the NGV International featuring the work of artists Mike and Doug Starn, David Stephenson, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Bill Henson, Adam Fuss, Simone Douglas, Park Hong-Chun, Eugenia Raskopoulos, Sam Shmith, Christoph Dahlhausen and Patrick Bailly-Maitre-Grand. It is fantastic to see an exhibition of solely contemporary photographs at the National Gallery of Victoria taken from their collection (with nary a vintage silver gelatin photograph in sight!), one which examines the orchestration of light from which all photography emanates – used by different photographers in the creation, and there is the key word, of their work. Collectively, the works seem to ooze a mysterious inner light, a facing towards the transcendent divine – both comforting, astonishing and terrifying in part measure.

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Hiroshi Sugimoto
Japanese 1948-, worked in United States 1972-
Winnetka Drive-In, Paramount
1993
Gelatin silver photograph
42.3 x 54.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by the Bowness Family Fund for Contemporary Photography, 2009
© Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy The Pace Gallery, New York

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Mike Starn
American 1961-
Doug Starn
American 1961-
Sol Invictus
1992
Orthographic film, silicon, pipe clamps, steel and adhesive tape
175.0 x 200.0 x 35.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds donated by the National Gallery Women’s Association, 1994
© Doug Starn, Mike Starn/ARS, New York. Licensed by VISCOPY, Sydney

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10/ Review: Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 28th September – 11th November 2012

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In his visual mosaics Crewdson engages our relationship with time and space to challenge the trace of experience. His tableaux act as a kind of threshold or hinge of experience – between interior and exterior, viewer and photograph. His photographs are a form of monism in which two forces (interior / exterior) try to absorb each other but ultimately lead to a state of equilibrium. It is through this “play” that the context of the photographs and their relationship to each other and the viewer are “framed.” This device emphasises the aesthetic as much as information and encourages the viewer to think about the relationship between the body, the world of which it is part and the dream-reason of time. This intertextual (n)framing (n meaning unspecified number in mathematics) encourages the viewer to explore the inbetween spaces in the non-narrative / meta-narrative,”and by leaps (intuitive leaps, poetic leaps, leaps of faith)” encourage escapism in the imagination of the viewer. It is up to us as viewers to seek the multiple, disparate significances of what is concealed in each photograph as “felt knowledge” (Walter Benjamin), recalling to mind the sensory data placed before our eyes, something that can be experienced but cannot be explained by man: “the single moment of the present amidst the transience of life and searching for some kind of eternal truth.”

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Installation photograph of the series Beneath the Roses from the exhibition Gregory Crewdson: In a Lonely Place at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Melbourne

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© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

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11/ Exhibition: Janina Green: Ikea at Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 28th November 28 – 15th December 2012

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Installation photograph of 'Ikea' by Janina Green at Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne

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Installation photograph of Ikea by Janina Green at Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne

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Janina Green. 'Orange vase' 1990 reprinted 2012

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Janina Green
Orange vase
1990 reprinted 2012
Silver gelatin print on fibre based paper, handtinted with orange photo dye
85 x 70 cm

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Fable = invent (an incident, person, or story)

Simulacrum = pretends to be a faithful copy, but it is a copy with no original

Performativity = power of discourse, politicization of abjection, ritual of being

Body / identity / desire = imperfection, fluidity, domesticity, transgression, transcendence

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Intimate, conceptually robust and aesthetically sensitive.
The association of the images was emotionally overwhelming.
An absolute gem. One of the highlights of the year.

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23
Mar
12

Review: ‘Martin Parr: In Focus’ at Niagara Galleries, Richmond, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 6th March – 31st March 2012

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This is a fine exhibition of the work of celebrated English photographer Martin Parr at Niagara Galleries, Richmond, albeit with one proviso. The mainly large colour prints are handsomely displayed in plain white frames within the gallery space and are taken from his well known series: Last Resort, Luxury, New British and British Food. Parr’s work is at its best when he concentrates on the volume of space within the image plane and the details that emerge from such a concentrated visualisation – whether it be the tension points within the image, assemblage of colour, incongruity of dress, messiness of childhood or philistine nature of luxury.

The best photographs have a wonderful frisson about them, a genuine love of and resonance with the things he is imaging. This frisson can be seen in all of the photographs in this posting but most notably in :

  • The incursion of the surreal red colour to left in England. New Brighton (top, below) and Parr’s masterful use of vertical and horizontal lines within the image. Note the verticality: of the child’s toy, the two children themselves, the pillars of the pavilion and the lighthouse holding the whole image together at right. If this lighthouse were not there the eye would fall out of the image. As it is it is contained, forcing the viewer to look closely at the absurdity of the melting ice cream and the splashes that have fallen on the ground.
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  • The complexity of the photograph England. New Brighton (second from top, below) where the eye does not know what to rest upon, constantly jumping from object to object. Do you look at the women on the ground, the shoes to right, the piece of fabric to left, the screaming baby, the sunlit pink umbrella, the women in blue bikini up the ramp, the long elongated shadowed wall with peek-a-boo heads leading to the outlined figures at the vanishing point of image – the top of the ramp. The understanding of light (with the use of flash) and the construction of the image is superlative. Wow!
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  • The incongruity evidenced in the photograph England, Ascot. 2003: the over tight pink sateen dress with unfortunate stain (which the eye is irrevocably drawn to), applique bow linked through to hideous flower embossed handbag which then contrasts with the seated women behind in hat and purple floral dress. In the large print in the gallery the background is more out of focus than in the small reproduction here, allowing the viewer’s eye an avenue of escape via the grass and deck chair beyond.
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  • The delicious, choreographed mise-en-scène of Australia, The Melbourne Cup. 2008 – the suits, ties and glasses, the teezed hair, the alcohol – where none of the participants is looking at the camera, where only the ladies hand clutches at the back of the man’s shoulder. They look down, they look left, they look right, they look away, they never engage with each other or the viewer. The critical space in this assemblage is the distance between the man and the woman’s noses, that vitally small space of separation that is a synonym for the interactions occurring in the rest of the image. The blindness of Lux’ry, its crassness, its stain.

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And so it goes. The dirt under the fingernails of the child eating a doughnut, the lurid colours of the popsicle and jacket of the kid with dribble on his face, all fantastic. There are moments of stasis, for example in the contemplative photograph Australia. South Hedland. Blackrock Tourist Park. 2011 (below) taken from Parr’s new series Australia, where Parr has photographed Australian life in three Western Australian port cities, Fremantle, Broome and Port Hedland. See the video at the bottom of the posting and listen to Parr talk about his work.

This is all fine and dandy, dressed up in polka dots and a lurid bow tie, but when the photographs become too reductive, as in the large photograph in the exhibition England. Dorset. West Bay. 1997 (see first column, fourth down) there is really not enough to hang your hat on. This feeling of over simplification, as though the photographer has said to himself “here’s something I have seen that you haven’t recognised, and I think it is important for you to recognise it” – the perceived essentialness of the object – can become a bit strained. I know that these type of images are part of the series about British or Scottish food or about objects from a specific place but do they really have this grand an importance in the scheme of things? This feeling is reinforced in the exhibition, and this is my proviso to show, when the images such as Scotland. Glasgow. Fairy cakes. 1999England. Blackpool. 1995 (bread and butter on a plate on red check cloth) are presented at A4 size surrounded by heavy white frames. These photographs have to be large to have any chance of working at all and at the small size they fall flat.

The size of a photograph raises interesting questions about the display of contemporary photography. The giant light boxes of Jeff Wall, the huge group portraits of Thomas Struth, the huge portraits of Thomas Ruff, the huge environments of Candida Hofer and the huge panoramas of Andreas Gursky (to name but a few) are all points in case. Would they work at a smaller size? No. They rely on scale and detail, visual impact for their effect: the same with Martin Parr. What is really ‘In Focus’ is the visualisation of the artist, his ability to envisage the final print at this large size. The A4 prints in this exhibition simply do not work at that size, for these photographs.

Think of Ansel Adams’ famous Monolith, The Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, Calif., (circa 1926). Originally printed as a contact 8″ x 10″ from the negative, Adams gradually increased the size of this image till it became a huge print as tall as a man in his later life. The image works at multiple sizes, it spoke to him (and the viewer) at all these sizes: the small contact is intense and gem-like, the larger imitating the monolithic structure of the Face itself. I feel that some large contemporary photographs are quite vacuous at this large size, that there is no reason for them to be at this size. In other words it is not appropriate for the image. Conversely it would seem that artists previsualise for this size in the end print, which is fine, but that the print cannot exist, cannot breathe in the world at a smaller size. Is this a problem? Does this matter? I believe it does, especially when a photograph is displayed at a size that simply doesn’t work. I was always taught to print a photograph at an appropriate size for the image, whatever size(s) that may be (and there can be multiples), as long as it has resonance for that particular image.

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Francesca Woodman installation photograph at The Guggenheim Museum, New York. Note the small, vintage prints on the far wall.

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As evidenced in this exhibition, if the photograph cannot “work” at the size that it is to be exhibited then it should not be displayed at all – it is a diminution not just of the artists vision but of the resonance of the photograph, in this case going from large to small. In an upcoming posting about the retrospective of the work of American photographer Fransceca Woodman, there is an installation photograph of the exhibition at The Guggenheim, New York (see above). Her vintage prints (seen in the background) – small, intense visions – have been printed at a huge scale (with her permission) and they simply do not work at this floor to ceiling height. They have lost all of their intimacy, which is one of the strengths of her photography. Again, I believe it is a diminution of the artists vision and the integrity of the photograph, this time from small to large. Artists are not always right. The same can be said of the retrospective of Cartier-Bresson that I saw at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh in 2005. One room out of four had very small, intense vintage prints in brown hues and the other three galleries had large 20″ x 24″ grainy prints with strong contrast that really ruined any response I had to the work as evidenced by the vintage prints. They were almost reproductions, a simulacra of the real thing. I had a feeling that they weren’t even by the artist himself. The same could be said here.

To conclude I would say this is a fine exhibition of large photographs by Martin Parr that would have been even more focused without the small A4 prints. They are joyous paeans to the quirky, incongruous worlds in which we live and circulate. They evidence life itself in all its orthogonal absurdity. I love ’em!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to the artist and Niagara Galleries for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Martin Parr
England. New Brighton.
From the series Last Resort
1983 – 1985
Pigment print
Edition of 5
102 x 127 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

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Martin Parr
England. New Brighton.
From the series Last Resort
1983 – 1985
Pigment print
Edition of 5
102 x 127 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

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Martin Parr
Australia. South Hedland. Blackrock Tourist Park. 2011.
From the series Australia
2011
Pigment print
Edition of 5
101.6 x 152.4 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

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Martin Parr
England, Ascot. 2003.
From the series Luxury
1995 – 2009
Traditional C-type print
Edition of 5
101.6 x 152.4 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

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Martin Parr
Australia, The Melbourne Cup. 2008.
From the series Luxury
1995 – 2009
Pigment print
Edition of 5
101.6 x 152.4 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

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Martin Parr
England. Ramsgate. 1996.
From the series New British
1994 – 1996
Traditional C-type print
Edition of 5
105.5 x 157.5 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

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Martin Parr
England. Bristol. Car boot sale. 1995.
From the series British Food
1994 – 1995
Traditional C-type print
Edition of 33
18 x 25.5 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

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No Worries: Martin Parr – FotoFreo 2012

Magnum photographer Martin Parr was asked by FotoFreo Festival Director Bob Hewitt to photograph three Western Australian port cities, Fremantle, Broome and Port Hedland. Photographer David Dare Parker was assigned to document the project, the work titled No Worries.

© David Dare Parker

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Niagara Galleries
245 Punt Road
Richmond, Melbourne
Victoria, 3121
Australia
T: +61 3 9429 3666

Opening hours:
Tues – Sat 11am – 6pm

Niagara Galleries website

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

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