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The cafe and shop building


I didn’t know what to expect but was told by a local to see the Teshima Museum. It is one of my favourite places I visited in Japan. Perched on a cliff overlooking the Seto inland sea are two white concrete dome structures. You follow a winding path and wait for your turn to enter. Finally you take off your shoes, put on slippers and walk into a large curved space with two round holes in the roof, open to the sky.

As you enter you notice pools and puddles of water on the floor. Drops of water seep out of tiny holes and join together, continually moving and merging. Long snake-like drops glide towards larger puddles. Small blobs grow larger until they start rolling along the floor and flowing into other blobs and becoming bigger puddles.

Being in the space is hypnotic and calming. You can see sky, clouds and trees through the roof openings. The museum is open to the air, sounds and natural light and when it rains, rain falls inside. I spent over an hour watching the water move and the light change.

The museum is a collaboration between artist Rei Naito and architect Ryue Nishizawa.

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Morning tea in the cafe

A selection of work from the Blake Prize is showing at Wangaratta Art Gallery until 8 January 2017. Highlights for me were 1. a marble sculpture by Robert Hague, ‘The Messenger’ which depicts a severed head veiled in drapery. It is reminiscent of funeral monuments and quite beautiful, and also a bit creepy. A small bird is carved the figure’s throat.
2. ‘Kenosis’ by Yardena Kurulkar, which won the prize. A series of photos showing the disintegration of a terracotta heart. The heart is a replica of a human heart and is shown in stages of weathering until it dissolves. An interesting and powerful concept.
3. ‘Kurtal’ by Tom Putuparri Lawford. I thought this looked like a cross, a traditional looking indigenous object with a black body and white feathers sticking out from the top. It’s made from human hair among other things, and is actually a headdress to be worn during rain bringing ceremonies in the desert.
4. A collaboration between an Australian and a Balinese artist. I didn’t take note of the name of the work or the artists, and I haven’t been able to find it online. The work is dominated by traditional Balinese paintings of the nine gods that protect the island. Small paintings of tourists have been added, basically ‘partying’ and exploiting the native population in their search of a good time. It shows the ugly side of Australian tourism to Bali, but it looks like a beautiful tapestry until you start looking more closely.

The Blake Prize was started in 1950 to encourage religious art, and conversations about faith, spirituality, religion, hope, humanity, social justice, belief and non-belief. The entries are not restricted to works related to any faith or any artistic style, but any work entered must have a recognisable religious or spiritual integrity.

The Messenger -- Robert Hague

The Messenger — Robert Hague


Kenosis -- Yardena Kurulka

Kenosis — Yardena Kurulka


Kenosis -- Yardena Kurulka (detail)

Kenosis — Yardena Kurulka (detail)

I recently spent the weekend at a cottage in Hepburn Springs with a beautiful garden at the edge of the forest. I was especially struck by a bare tree covered by a net which reminded me of a bridal veil.

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Ghost tree, watercolour, 2016

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Thistle, watercolour, 2016

My response to the violent attacks on citizens in Paris, and the military strikes in Syria and racist warmongering rhetoric which seems to be drowning out truth and common sense, is the following quote from Martin Luther King Jr –

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

– and also to remember that the majority of people in the world are good and doing no harm to others.

With all the talk about terrorism and ‘ISIS’ in the media recently, my favourite astrologer posted about the goddess ‘Isis’ and this reminded me of my love of ancient egyptian art and mythology. [note that the terrorist organisation should be referred to as ‘Daesh’].

Isis the goddess is a timeless expression of the Divine Feminine, also known as Aphrodite, Hera and Artemis, and is devoted to empowering others. Read the full post by Mystic Medusa here.

These paintings are from 2011.

Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art. Andy Warhol

I love this quote from one of my favourite artists. Lately I haven’t been doing any art, and I’ve been thinking about that elusive thing ‘inspiration’.

Pablo Picasso said, and I agree:

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.

He was a very prolific artist, constantly drawing and painting, and I think this is a great artistic method. But what if you don’t ‘feel like’ doing art?

In my second year of art school I realised that some of my fellow students were too scared to actually start a painting. That blank canvas or sheet of paper is intimidating. And we rarely, if ever, make a painting that is as good as we imagine.

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. Sylvia Plath
We have to allow ourselves to make bad paintings, terrible drawings, stifle our inner critics, and keep going.

Sometimes, just going to the studio, ‘showing up’, and starting to play around with colour, scribbling something, flicking through books and images I’ve collected, will give me an idea for a painting. And sometimes I will just start painting without have a clear idea of where I’m going. This can lead to an unexpectedly good painting, and also to a shit painting that I’ll turn to the wall, to maybe paint over another day.

I believe Charles Baudelaire was right when he said Inspiration comes of working every day. Unfortunately, there’s no quick or magical solution to not being inspired. I think you just have to keep working.

And I love this quote from Banksy: Think outside the box, collapse the box, and take a f**king sharp knife to it.

Postscript

I came across a wonderful commencement speech that talks about gaps in your resumé, fallow periods in creativity, and life not going according to plan.

How can we learn not to panic as future ministers or scholars or mothers when we are “not getting any work done” or when we lose direction altogether, when there is no plan, when the manuscript is delayed or the child is ill, when the love affair sours and there is no point in getting up, … Or when the sheer cruelty, racism, and blindness of the world can be kept at bay no longer, but storm our inner barriers, making normal productive life impossible? Yet in these … career detours, lie gestation and receptivity, what the Japanese call “hollowness” to the divine. In these nonproductive times, new things are hatching, being born in the darkness…

The full text is here.

IMG_3178Big yam Dreaming (detail)

Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s Big yam Dreaming is one of my favourite paintings by an Australian artist. It’s a powerful and huge (8 metres x 3 metres) painting covered with a tangle of curving white brushstrokes, forming an organic pattern that represents the roots of the yam and the cracks of the earth in desert country, and also the spiritual sense of country of this indigenous artist.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye was born in 1910 in a remote desert area known as Utopia, 230 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs. Her work was inspired by her cultural life as an Anmatyerre elder, and her lifelong custodianship of the women’s Dreaming sites in her clan country, Alhalkere.

Although Emily only started painting when she was in her late 70s, she produced over 3,000 paintings in the course of her eight-year painting career. For most of her life she had only sporadic contact with the outside world. It was not until she was 80 that she became, almost overnight, an artist of national and international standing.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s visions of Alhalkere are her personal cultural legacy to the world. Whenever Emily was asked to explain her paintings, regardless of whether the images were a shimmering veil of dots, raw stripes seared across the surface or elegant black lines, her answer was always the same:

Whole lot, that’s whole lot, Awelye (my Dreaming), Arlatyeye (pencil yam), Arkerrthe (mountain devil lizard), Ntange (grass seed), Tingu (Dreamtime pup), Ankerre (emu), Intekwe (favourite food of emus, a small plant), Atnwerle (green bean), and Kame (yam seed). That’s what I paint,
whole lot.

IMG_3172Big yam Dreaming (Anwerlarr anganenty), 1995, synthetic polymer paint on canvas

Emily completed Big yam Dreaming in only two days, the same time it took assistants to prime the canvas black. She sat cross-legged on the three-by-eight metre canvas spread flat on the ground and painted her way to the edges, ‘knitting’ one section onto another without preliminary sketching, scaling or reworking.

When you consider that she never studied art, never came into contact with the great artists of her time and did not begin painting until she was almost 80 years of age, there can only be one way to describe her. She was just a genius.
– Akira Tatehata – Director, National Museum of Art, Osaka

I visited the Bendigo Art Gallery last week to see the Ben Quilty show. I’ve been a fan of his painting since I saw one of his car crash paintings and a documentary about him where he spoke about Australian masculinity and what inspired him. European settlement and the plight of Indigenous Australians are ongoing themes in his work.

What fascinates me is the amount of paint he uses! When I look closely I always wonder how long his work must take to dry. I love his dramatically rough painterly style.

Kuta Rorschach No. 2, 2014, oil on canvas (detail)Kuta_Rorshach_detail

Three of his Rorschach series of large landscapes are almost symmetrical mirror images, reflected from a central vertical axis.
Fairy Bower Rorschach, 2012, oil on linen (detail)Fairy_bower_rorshach Read the rest of this entry »

I will show the worldUntitled (I will show the world how brilliant I am), 2014, David Shrigley

David Shrigley’s black humour is on display at NGV International until 1 March and I highly recommend the show for those who like a bit of absurdity in art. You will LOL (I did). His crude cartoon-y drawings comment on the everyday banality of modern life.

I particularly enjoyed the ‘general store’ and merchandise, including several wonderful books explaining his dystopian world view. Just reading the titles was amusing. Unfortunately, the tshirts were not for sale.

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I did, however, buy a postcard:

your artwork is terrible
© David Shrigley 2013

Twenty-two of Tony Tuckson’s beautiful abstract paintings have been bequeathed to our public art galleries by his widow Margaret, who passed away in September.

Tuckson was deputy director at the Art Gallery of New South Wales from 1957 until his death in 1973, and the conflict he perceived between this position and his art practice made him reticent about exhibiting his work.

Untitled – yellow 1970–73

Untitled – yellow 1970–73


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I visited the Geelong Contemporary Art Prize recently. Forty-two painters make up a diverse show ranging from figurative and photorealistic painting to text-based and abstract work. I love painting and I enjoyed the wide range of styles and techniques used.

Adam Pyett’s Flowering Gum had deliciously thick paint and brushstrokes, scrapes and roughly applied patches of colour showing some of the underpainted canvas. I loved the sketchy and spontaneous quality of the work.

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Flowering_gum_Pyett
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