Also here's the invitation to my solo exhibition in Melbourne Jan/Feb 2013
Please click HERE to see some of the paintings
The painting on the invitation is Ad Infinitum Oil on linen 50 x 50 cm
Just before Christmas I spent nearly a day at QAGOMA ie: Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art. For overseas readers, Queensland's State Institutional Art Gallery has two buildings both overlooking the Brisbane River, but separated by a boulevard-like area. The Queensland State Library sits in the middle of the two gallery buildings. Here's a site plan for you.
APT7Currently, QAGOMA is exhibiting the APT7 ie: Asia Pacific Triennial. Every three years since 1993 the gallery mounts this 'flagship contemporary art event' which reveals and exhibits art from the Asia/Pacific region. It is a unique triennial and has placed QAGOMA on a very sure international cultural footing.
This mammoth exhibition has some fascinating art and in this BLOG post I thought I'd write about some of the exhibits that really grabbed my attention in various ways and for various reasons. If you live in or near Brisbane definitely go along to see APT7. If you are going to be visiting Brisbane between now and 14 April 2013 put the APT7 on your list of things to do.
When I walked around a corner in GOMA and saw Japanese artist Takahiro Iwasaki's Reflection Model [Perfect Bliss] [2010-12] I felt my heart miss a beat. It really is beautiful and monumental, even though not oversized. This work is a model of the Houdo [Phoenix Pavilion] built in 1053 near Kyoto in Japan. But, there is a twist. The viewer sees a building as if reflecting itself like a conjoined twin. The pale wooden [cyprus] meticulously built structure hangs from the gallery ceiling, like some kind of hovering spaceship emitting history. It's monumentality lies in its sense of presence. It seems to take hold of time.
The Events Ashore [2005-2008] series of photographs by Vietnamese born An-My Le are quietly arresting. That probably sounds contradictory. I will explain. I initially walked past the set of photographs just glancing at them, but something pulled me back. I was compelled to look more closely. The images of American soldiers, sometimes with other people, were not taken at moments of catastrophic terror or in a bloody aftermath. Instead Le captures incidental moments, replete with emotions that quietly draw the viewer into the ongoing saga of military involvement and activity. This saga, as Le visually suggests, includes non-combative moments and activities. Each image provokes questions. In attempting to answer these questions it becomes apparent that there may be no answers or a need for them, because the very act of questioning embraces the rawness of humanity and reminds us that we are all connected.
I loved Indian artist Sheila Makhijani's paintings. Two of them are Touch Down 2012 and More Or Less Like This 2012, both oil on canvas. Up close and from a distance Makhijani's paintings sang a vision to me. This may sound strange because the paintings are abstract with no representational elements. The vision was something that I sensed, as if all my faculties were stirred. That's probably why I felt compelled to write 'sang a vision to me' as if I 'heard' and saw the vision simultaneously, without sensory division. In fact, her paintings have that quality, which I strive for...to be both vast and intimate at the same time...a sense of simultaneousness. Makhijani's use of paint is luscious, confident and sensual.
Iranian artist Parastou Forouhar's installation Written Room [1999 ongoing] was another work that transported me. Farouhar has written Farsi calligraphy in black paint, on floor and walls, in a large white space in GOMA. Upon entering the room I felt immediately destablised, but whilst it was noticeable it did not trouble me, because I also felt beauty and its accompanying pathos. I wished I knew what the words meant, but I learnt that the script is made up of partial phrases and broken words, so presumably even if you could read Farsi, literal meaning would still slip away; the trap of prosaic didacticism beautifully ignored and avoided. I almost had to hold my arms tightly around me because I felt like dancing, twirling and whirling in this space of words I did not know, as if in the dizziness of dance visual and sentient elements would coalesce and I would understand. If I was a child maybe I would not have let propriety take hold!
*Please check out the Queensland Art Gallery's FLIKR stream of images taken of Paratou Forouhar creating her APT7 Written Room
Another work I really enjoyed was young Aboriginal artist Daniel Boyd's multi channel video A Darker Shade Of Dark . Upon entering the darkened room I was enveloped by the cosmos! Regular readers will know how much I would have loved that and why! The multi screens swathed the room in fuidly moving light and dark glimpses of colourful pulsing stars and celestial bodies. Boyd has used dots to create this really amazing experience. And, it really is an experience rather than something the viewer observes. It is an experience because the viewer is no longer an observer, but a star too and very much part of the cosmic glow. I really felt embraced and included by Boyd's A Darker Shade Of Dark knowing that I, like all of you, am part of the Universal cosmic dust.
Edwin Roseno's Green Hypermarket [2011-12] consisting of 150 round photographs varyiously sized, dominates a major wall in the Queensland Art Gallery. It demands attention, even without you knowing its message critiquing consumerism. It is visually stunning. So much so, that from a distance I thought the images of plants in cans were real objects placed like a sculptural montage installation.
In a section of the APT7 called 'Traversing West Asia' Kazakhstani born artist Almagul Menlibayeva's video Kurchatov 22  tells us about Cold War Russian atomic bomb testing in northern Kazakhstan. It is a disturbing video and a departure from the more raptuous, subtle and lyrical works I've already written about. It held my attention. I also learnt something and because the intent to tell the viewer about the atrociousness of the atomic bomb testing is honest and direct from the very beginning, I welcomed the lesson. The delivery, via a five channel projection, variously portrayed scenes of a desolate landscape or townscape, people recounting in documentary style their memories of bomb blasts, and performative images. Watching Kurchatov 22 at a time when war, violence and mindless massacres continue around the world left me feeling angry at humanity's continuing lack of compassion. Surely we can do better! I've included Kurchatov in my list of work I enjoyed, and grabbed my attention, because despite feeling angry this work has continued, even days later, to make me think. In Menlibayeva's own words the 'romantic punk shamanism' is working!
So, if you visit APT7 enjoy it! There are 75 artists and artist groups from 27 countries across the broad Asia/Pacific region, so there is plenty to see! I will definitely be returning for more visits.