Thursday, May 22, 2014

VGA, Melbourne museum, and Goma visits

Recently I have visited a few exhibitions and here are some of my highlights.

The Victorian Gallery of Art was wonderful. I was particularly delighted with its display of Renaissance paintings from its own collection, and also the three Dutch Baroque florals..yes only three amongst the many rooms of mostly religious works.

Artists like De Heem (below) excelled in the secular depiction of fruits and flowers, whilst alluding to the transcience and impermanence of life. Stilleven, still life painting, became a celebrated  genre in its own right.

Jan Davidsz de Heem
Still Life with fruit
Oilk on canvas, 1640 - 50
"De Heem invented thge Pronkstilleven, or the sumptuous still life"..(VGA)
(The green square in the top left quadrant is a  reflection of the exit sign on the opposite wall:)

Close up of de Heem's painting.

Leopold Stoll
Flowerpiece, oil on canvas, 1837
There are 39 varieties of fruit and flowers in this work, and since the the 15th century Dutch artists had taken a scientific approach to the renderings of flowers and fruit. Accuaracy of detail was vitally important as can be seen with close up photos of  Stoll's painting.

Jan Francois van Dael
Flemish Flowerpiece 1811
Oil on canvas

Below..close ups of van Dael's Flowerpiece..

As the gallery rooms wound around, gradually the viewer entered the art of the 20th century. Here are a few pieces that stood out for me, although there were so many more.

Siesta, Oil on canvas, 1900
Gorgeous work.. and below is a close up of Bonnard's paint application..strong use of impasto.
Mark Rothko,
Untitled..Red, 1956, Oil on Canvas.
This is the first time that I have seen a Rothko other than a digital image..I did not weep!!

David Hockney
The Second Marriage, 1963
Oil, gouache and collage of torn wallpaper on canvas.
This was a large work and I loved the use of different media, and also the configuration of three cnavases sided together to form the illusion of a box..metaphor for marriage??

Whilst in Melbourne, I stayed with my Mexican friend, and so we were both keen to see the Aztec exhibition at the Melbourne museum. I won't go into the details of Aztec culture, but I have taken some photos of the stone sculptures on display..haunting portrayals of a culture that flourished for only two hundred years.

Back in Brisbane, I finally went to Goma in the last days of its much advertised exhibition "Falling back to earth" by Cai Guo-Qiang, and have been thinking how I felt about this exhibition. Strangely, I don' t really seem to feel connected to it at all. The exhibits are definitely large spectacles and quite beautiful to see, but I didn't feel touched or excited or intellectually stimulated by it. Of course it's interesting to read the didactics, and the blurbs put out by the gallery about this artist and his philosophy, but all said and done, it did not "touch" me in any particular way. I had been surprised to read that the "Heritage" exhibit was inspired by the artist's visit to Stradbroke and his very Arcadian view of the lakes. The ensuing exhibit was very much more global in context than specific to the original site. As I sat and gazed at the replicas of animals surrounding the constructed lake, and the leaping wolves in the next room, I wondered how many Chinese factory workers had sewed and fabricated these items without any understanding of the eventual purpose of their work. I had felt quite devoid of emotion and wondered if the labourers behind these works had also felt as listless.

I much more enjoyed the fallen gums on display..only because they were natural and so very tactile. They at least did not have a manufactured quality but still resounded with all the wonderous shapes of an organic life form.

Later in the day, I  made my way over to QAG to see what paintings were on offer, and once again I was thrilled with a line up of early Northern European oil paintings depicting religious themes. They were from about the early 15 th century and ranged from Flemish and Dutch to German works .(sorry but I did not take any photos here! ) I was smitten by the gorgeous patina of the oils on old oak panels. These works were intimate in scale, and the artist's hand was still evident in the brush stokes and the gentle application of the glazes. Five hundred years had not erased the feeling of personal involvement.

I will leave now with a quote from Alain de Botton and John Armstrong as read in a VGA flyer..
Art edits down cpmplexity and helps us to focus, for a brief period of time, on life's most meaningful aspects".      I like that!

No comments:

Post a Comment