Archives for category: NGV

tree trunks and dandelionsI think of Van Gogh primarily as a colourist, although his vivid colourful paintings were mostly painted in the last couple of years of his art career. His detailed descriptions of nature and his paintings can be found in his letters to Theo, his brother. Here he describes a landscape he painted at Arles in 1888:

A meadow full of very yellow buttercups, a ditch with iris plants with green leaves, with purple flowers, the town in the background, some grey willow trees — a strip of blue sky.
If they don’t mow the meadow I’d like to do this study again, because the subject matter was really beautiful…A little town surrounded by countryside entirely covered in yellow and purple flowers. That would really be a Japanese dream, you know.

And a beach at Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer:

I took a walk along the seashore one night, on the deserted beach. It wasn’t cheerful, but not sad either, it was — beautiful.

The sky, a deep blue, was flecked with clouds of a deeper blue than primary blue, an intense cobalt, and with others that were a lighter blue — like the blue whiteness of milky ways. Against the blue background stars twinkled, bright, greenish, white, light pink — brighter, more glittering, more like precious stones than at home — even in Paris. So it seems fair to talk about opals, emeralds, lapis, rubies, sapphires. The sea a very deep ultramarine — the beach a mauvish and pale reddish shade, it seemed to me — with bushes.

At Arles he painted the same subjects over and over — wheat fields, fruit trees, olive trees, flowers, cypresses. One of my favourite paintings from the show is an olive grove. The sky is a delightful pale green with orange, yellow and blue accents, and the ground lavender blue, orange, green and pale brown.

olive grove with 2 olive pickersIt’s hard to imagine how revolutionary these paintings were at the time. They influenced many painters including Matisse and the Fauves. His vision was unique and the bold and surprising way he used colour is still amazing.

Van Gogh and the seasons is at the NGV Melbourne until July 9.

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

Standouts from a short visit to Melbourne Now at NGV St Kilda Road:

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Agatha Gothe-Snape’s video screens installation Powerpoints (above). This work looks very much like advertising with ‘slogans’ and snippets of text that cycle continuously. I liked it a lot.

Daniel Crooks’ video work An embroidery of voids 2013, was also a favourite. Spliced footage of Melbourne laneways and back alleys takes you on an imaginary tour. It is mesmerising. There’s a sense of menace that seems to be building up to a violent conclusion due to the atmospheric soundtrack, but nothing happens.

Anastasia Klose’s Popup Shop, where she is selling Tshirts and other merchandise. Playing with the idea of the artist as a product and ‘selling out’, Klose is a charming salesperson for her ‘souvenirs’.

The volume of work means this is a show to return to several times. The show runs until 23 March 2014.

 

A few weeks ago now I visited the Monet exhibition at NGV. Absolutely loved it. I remembered seeing some of his paintings in Paris years ago at the Musée d’Orsay and L’Orangerie, but it was lovely to see so many of his paintings here in Melbourne.

The cafe was appropriately decked out with orchids…

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It was interesting to see some works I hadn’t seen before, like the landscape ‘Field of Yellow Irises at Giverny’ which had a freshness in the bright yellow, green and pale blues, and a beautiful sketchy roughness. There were also paintings of weeping willow trees in reds, browns and greens that I’d never seen before.

Field of Yellow Irises near Giverny - Claude Monet

One of my favourites was a large painting of water lilies and agapanthus in greens, purples, yellows and pinks. I loved the unfinished section in the in the bottom corner that showed bare canvas. When you look at his large almost abstract portrayals of reflections on water and lilies, you can see he was a forerunner of abstraction.

Agapanthus and Waterlilies - Claude Monet

There was also a beautiful video of Monet’s garden. At the end of his life Monet had cataracts and after being operated on, his colour perception changed dramatically – what a terrible thing to happen to a master of colour! The notes said he wanted to destroy some of his earlier paintings, but fortunately he didn’t. His round wire-framed glasses are displayed in a case along with a wooden palette and a pipe. The exhibition runs until 8 September.

The red hat, William Frater, 1937, oil on canvas

The red hat, William Frater, 1937, oil on canvas

This is a portrait of Lina Bryans (1909–2000) by her friend and fellow artist William Frater. Lina Bryans was an important part of the modern movement and a member of literary and artistic circles in Melbourne during the late 1930s and 1940s. Her vibrant paintings are characterised by bold brushwork and the expressive use of colour which is applied directly onto the canvas. In 1937 Bryans began painting portraits of her friends. Her most famous work, The babe is wise, is a portrait of the writer Jean Campbell who had recently published a novel of the same name.  (NGV blurb)

I visited the NGV St Kilda Road today with a friend from Adelaide and we spent some time lying on the couches in the Great Hall admiring the leadlight ceiling by Leonard French. The hall is a beautiful cathedral-like space bathed with light and the coloured glass mosaic reminds me of a kaleidoscope. It’s the largest stained glass ceiling in the world (according to Wikipedia).

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