Archives for category: art prize

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 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.

flowering_gum_detail

Flowering_gum_Pyett
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I was excited to attend the opening of the Substation Contemporary Art Prize last month because my friend David Thomson was one of 50 finalists in the exhibition.

Overall I was disappointed with the exhibition. The three prizes awarded were all for video works. There were about 13 videos in the show. The SCAP is intended to ‘recognise and encourage innovation in contemporary art practice’.

A video work has to grab my attention or entertain me in the first minute or I turn off. We are so bombarded by video, TV, advertising,  movies, music clips, youtube, that video art has to be really clever or beautiful to stand out (and preferably short!) I dislike work with an obscure conceptual artist statement full of big words that I can’t understand, that I suspect is actually meaningless art wank.

You shouldn’t have to study art theory or have specialist knowledge to appreciate an artwork. I love art, and have studied it for four years, so if I can’t understand the concept behind an artwork, how is the average viewer supposed to understand it?

In the project, by Eric Bridgeman, was a video diary filmed during a artist residency in Canada in 2011. Bridgeman dressed up as a golliwog character and cavorted around his studio in front of a camera. I thought it was self-indulgent narcissism, and I couldn’t believe it when it won first prize and the judge described it as a ‘layered work’ about being an outsider. I don’t understand how this work has any more artistic merit than, say, reality TV footage or an amateur video diary on Youtube. I couldn’t watch the whole thing, I found it repetitive and boring.

bridgeman_in-the-project-005
Still from In the project, Eric Bridgeman, video/DVD, 2012

I think that in 100 years time, video art may be seen as a fad in modern art from the 1960s until now, especially popular since the 1990s. After several decades, the medium is hardly ‘innovative’. The art world is cyclical. It depends on what the art schools are encouraging students to do, and critics and curators are promoting, and it seems they are still pushing video and multi-media work rather than traditional painting, drawing and printmaking. Read the rest of this entry »

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