Preview: ANU School of Art Graduates 2009

On Wednesday I scooted off to Patron’s Day at the ANU School of Art in honour of the 2009 Graduate Exhibition. I look forward to each year’s grad show in pretty much the same way as kids look forward to Christmas. The quality of artwork here is often the best you will find anywhere, made by artists who are not yet jaded and spitting with cynicism, or soured by art-world realities and egos. How fortunate we are here in Canberra to have one of the country’s finest art schools (possibly the finest, if some of the stories I hear about other schools are true) in our very own backyard.

I shook off the waves of nostalgia I always get when walking the art school’s creaky floorboards and breathing its (probably toxic) paint-heavy air, and got down to the business of discovering great new art.

As is the annoying way of writers, I am going to break the entire show into a few completely generalized statements, and say that on the whole the workshops were disappointing (glass, photomedia, ceramics and sculpture here’s looking at you), others offered some nice surprises (printmedia, gold & silversmithing, furniture, textiles) and the clear standout of this year was the painting department. It is interesting how these things ebb and flow from year to year – last year there were slim pickings from the painting graduates, and a wealth of treasures from photomedia, but for now the tides have turned.

As a result, the standouts for me are all painters. Keep your eyes out for the following hugely promising graduates:

EMMA BEER: dark and domineering large-scale abstracts. Weighty applications and a muted palette pack an eloquent punch, bring a lump to the throat.

NATALIE MATHER: Cattapan meets Arkley for a stroll through the sun-bleached suburbs. Fresh-faced forays into the construction of space and place proving that home is where you paint it.

CHRIS CARMODY: cheeky opportunist in Canberra’s own ‘Arte Povera’ tradition. Gathered detritus, a love of books and a keen eye for detail combine to prove that art is everything and nothing all at once.

JONATHAN WEBSTER: a peddler of diminutive and unlikely beauty. Move in closer to find a plethora of re-appropriated treasures and delicately drawn line. Thin on paint but high on glitter and alphabet spaghetti.

DANIEL VUKOVLJAK: draws dividends from the boon that is the ANU inkjet research facility. Icons of art history meet heroics of comic book culture in seductively graphic digital collage mash-ups.

I highly suggest you get along and check out the show. Either head to the School of Art TONIGHT to be one of two thousand people attending the grand opening, or pop in before the exhibition closes on December 13. For those of you who tend to be swept off your feet by incredible artwork that you really can’t afford (note to self), then be sure to leave the cheque book at home. If you can afford it, well, come on down!



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