Sydney Art Safari In Short

As some of you have garnered from the previous post, I snuck away to Sydney last week for a whirlwind art safari. Given the limited time (and budget) I barely scratched the surface of what was on offer, but a few quick thoughts follow…

ARTSPACE People joke about the snobbery to be met in Sydney galleries but stepping into Artspace really does give one the impression of what it would be like to be invisible. Ah well. Maybe it was just a bad day?  Windows impersonating other windows by Wilkins Hill was a mile over my head, and I found myself instead preoccupied by the worrying possibility that rats would probably very much enjoy the vast offering of almonds that makes up a large portion of the exhibition. At first look I also assumed Sam Smith’s Permutation Set was beyond my comprehension, but on a second, closer inspection I decided it was more likely I just didn’t find it very interesting. My pick is Simon Denny’s Introductory logic video tutorial –  a witty meditation upon technology’s lost generations.

MCA Somewhat deflated after Eliasson’s Take Your Time (read HERE) I meandered through We Call Them Pirates Out Here and Almanac: The Gift of Ann Lewis AO still largely unmoved by anything (bus lag?) but pleased to see not one but two works by the late and legendary Canberran Neil Roberts on display. I was brought to my senses by Sylvie Blocher’s What Is Missing – a selection of audaciously engaging video works that had me so absorbed I all but forgot where I was and what I was doing (also perhaps some level of bus lag).

Michael Zavros

MUSEUM OF SYDNEY Disappointed to discover I’d just missed the Martin Sharp survey show I instead have a gander at Up The Cross – Rennie Ellis & Wesley Stacey. A show like this is particularly appealing when viewed in the palpable history of the Quay, and the MOS provided me with a far more immediate and intimate experience than when I saw No Standing Only Dancing at the National Gallery of Victoria in late 2008. It only reaffirmed my belief that photography from 70s Australia is about as good as it gets and re-ignited my usual desires to have been born decades earlier than I actually was.

ART GALLERY OF NEW SOUTH WALES After getting my Nolan/Whiteley/Tucker/Boyd fix, and being mildly alarmed by the sophistication of high school art these days (Artexpress), I popped upstairs to Wilderness, the Balnaves contemporary painting exhibition. I was immediately struck by overarching ugliness of this exhibition. And I liked it. Garish colours, harsh light, hard lines and warped perspectives join forces in a clashing cacophony. The fourteen artists included in the show all work around similar ideas of nature and the natural, whether real or imagined, and for the majority it would seem these ideas are twisted and troubling – upon leaving the show I am notably unsettled. Most memorable inclusions are works by Lousie Hearman, Fiona Lowry and Michael Zavros. Nice to see so many women in the line-up and nice to see a whole show dedicated to painting.

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