Sunday, September 25, 2005


My brain is still very fluffy from the night before, so this will be a misspelt missshapen fluff.

oh well.

I'm getting Joy Lai in this week to talk about her wor which is at 4A at the moment.

Her work consists of big photographs of skin printed onto banners. I'll save the words for the audio verson.

The 4A opening was a multi roomed extravaganza. There's lotsa stuff on and the new partitions are cute.

The street level space is a room of mirrors and alfoil.


Its a great installation of Lachlan Warners hollow buddhas and mirrors. Lots of bright red easter egg foil on the walls and a real cool take on Yves Kleins blue man in blue easter egg foil. The infinity mirror set up is the best. I remembered the first time I got drunk in a Thai restaurant and felt incredibly happy.

silver, foil, light.

Upstairs I ran into Joy's big skin banners curtaining the space. Through the transparent curtain I could peek through to Main Tans projection/sculpture things.

I reckon there was a nice formalist synaestheisa with the ice katchang (mixture of stuff conveyed by a mixture of stuff - if only martell could find a cocktail version of kachang) but a little less swayed by the other two pieces......... Bags and fish were nice tho. I'm really into the latest fad for plastic bag art.

At the other end, the top floor gallery is split into two small rooms. I didn't "get" Nell's work at all, but what I REALLY liked, was how it inspired all these comments from the punters.... "$2,500 for THAT!? ..... my six year old could do better!!!"

Oh! how many years since I heard this one! for joy! for joy! - all you need to do to ge tthe old duchampSHOK social vibe pumping again is to write on a black cushion with some fabric paint. Her crosses of polaroids of roadside crosses were nice - and this could have become a nice cohesive installation wiht the brushes - but the weird vipassana piece on the back wall, plus the video - didn't add to a sense of cohesion - more confusion. And I am a bit 'over' the sweeping arabesque lines. They evoke Byron Bay, Brett Whitely and dolphins - so should be used with complete abandonment or not at all.

I'm saving the best for last. Our houshold has been sniggering all weekend over this one. Jonathon Vencore's fossils. Nicely arranged in a small red walled room in cute little sample boxes. He's invented a new geology for every day bits. this was very camp, and a bit abject and hence right up the mayhem alley of delight. There's a whole heap of sculpted/resined rocky bits, with titles like "Anusite", "Littlite", "Dentatite", "Erectite", "Bunnite", "Pantitie" "Rimmite". And punters got to match the titles to what was in fornt of the eyeballs. Yum Yum, and I enjoyed explaining why the rimmite looked like a bunch of tongues to some young things.

Crikey - its hard being a critic. Here I am showing that my critical judgement IS largely dictated by my peurile sense of humour. I am also really obsessed by looking at rocks. I can't explain why. Nor can I explain that the one time my mum and better half bonded, was by spending SIX HOURS staring at and sorting geology photographs - after a solid xmas dinner. I think rocks are kind of exquisite and mineral - but also have this evocative quality that feeds into my own anothropomorphising tendences. So I reckon Vencore (note new buzz words) has mobilised this affective register rather well.

Thursday was a biggie for art openings but I managed only two. Before 4A I'd been down at Artspace avoiding pies. I'd killed time before the show wandering out along the cowper wharf. My god its an odd part of sydney, wiht bolted marinas - and Cafe Otto - which was full of scary loking dudes in suits. No women. I kid you not. Is this the new colombian?

ahem. Back to the gunnery. Inside.
Mari Velonaki's animatronic installation pulled the punters into the biggest queue - as eveyrone lined up to enter the space two by two. Its a good piece whihc consists of two wheelchairs moving around and writing letters whihc get spat out like ticker tape on the floor.

sublimely cute

I used the s word with caution and a delicate hint of irony, coz I'm always prickly aobut pompous write ups. But the following link does have nough of the eyeball informtaion wihtout too much dross.......

I paced up the other end of artspace and eyed off the beverages on offer, and decided to decline. Strolling into Eugenia Raskopolous's 'there are no words" I was tempted to agree, and wished I'd imbibed a bit more. But then i left again and decided that I'm open for any challenge.

Her website bit has some nice words about filling up the dark cavernous bit of artpsace with more dark cavernousity.

We're in a region beyond speech, where there are no words, where there cannot be any words. There is only affect; consciousness gagged, choking down on a response which it will never articulate as such.

My own response, was to start looking at the exit sign glinting in the foyer to the toilets. This was probably not a great sign. It was light and polychrome. Her intervention was dark and gloomy. I'm afraid of the dark and quite claustrophobic.

I'm going to call that bit of artpsace - the dark cavern. Coz it is a dark cavern, and evokes emeories of artpsace as an old artists squat. It alos reminds me of an old squat in ultimo. Explosed beams, old bricks, DAMP. DARK. I go in there and can help but imagine old mattresses, bad goon and candlelight, so I'm always impressed when people can transform the space into something else (like Monica Bengoa) , or as the case of the lempriere - fill it with enough bright young things as to distract one from the gloom......

Anyway I saw something at artpsace a few years ago in the dark cave - which had all these projections onto double sided screens - and it was quite intriguiging and engaging. Eugenia's piece reminded me of that - but was less fulfilling. It's HARD to take people into the space of nothing especially when there's lots of other fund stuff happening around. I was reminded of the sensation of being at a warehouse rave without enough chemicals and I left.

Fortunately utopia was not far away. Telervo and Oliver Kalleinen have spent 3 months workign with old hippy communes in Australia, making stories based on experiences creating Utopian communities. As I live in the idyllic surrounds of an artists dystopia myself, I was pretty keen to see what they came up with. the main film is really interesting whacky coumentary amking that is somewhere between Australian Story and Lars Von Trier. I like the juxtaposition of projections of jumperclad old hippies and the black clad cool crowd of artspace. I like how the Kalleinen duo managed to make something unusual and odd, but not evoke a perjorative voyeuristic sensibility. There's the same sort of sympathetic engagement that Lucas's Kellerberrin blog had............. refreshingly free of cringe.

I reckon the Kalleinen's real genius was in creating the complaints workshop in BIRMINGHAM. Imagine that? Getting a whole bunch of whingeing poms to whinge into art. "Compalints
choir" is heartwarming chuckle material. Get info at or go and see the film at artspace - in the room near the counter.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Shlepping, Sllippeng, Sleppign, Spilleng

Dear All

I thought the gestured frantic unsepllchekced typos style was kinda kool - and kinda kept me real and in tha hood of yer average art consooma.

I could diverge more into my own theories of the marked text and typography and post literacy spelling. but I won't. Its a bit 90's after all.

A few comments have alluded to my stylized screen dyslexia.

I do type in a rush
I am unco and slapdash
I do like to leave a gestured, stuttering style in my writing

but if people are sick of reading through a skein of mispellings, then I could carefully make some amends.

anway. to the news.

Monday: listen to 2SER!

Tuesday: "The Space Between" at KUDOS gallery next to the greek orthodox church on Sth Dowling St, paddo

Wednesday: "To think we almost made it" at First Draft which is on chalmers street near central

Thursday: EAST: Sherman and Artspace
CITY: "Out of Place" at Gallery 4A
INNER WEST: "Ambient Abstraction" at SNO galleries in marrickville

Friday: "Insidious" at Sir Hermann Black Level 5 Wentworth Building on city road at Sdyney uni

Saturday: "Tour of Beauty" meet at Ivan Dougherty disobedience show before 2pm and join the bus......

Gallery 4A finally reopens its renovated doors this week, with a big new group show.
I love to signpost contemproary art spaces by their vicinity to PIE CARTS. 4A is across the tram-tracks from harry's special at the capitol theatre, and the show opens on thursday night and runs for a month.

I haven't seen the new show but the invite shows a close up of brown rippled skin. Apparently (according to my neighbour who told me this before coffee) It's one of the pieces from Joy Lai, and the originals are big multi metre numbers. Yum Yum. The show is called "Out of Place" and the other artists are NELL, MEIN TAN, JONATHAN VENCORE and LACHLAN WARNER.
4A is an extremely interesting space and has really good quality shows of interesting, elegant work - which is chellenging without doing the head bludgeoning bit.

You've all Missed the Lempriere. You'll have to do the regular trudge to see the finalists in their natural habitats. Some are even still at ARI's like MOP.

There's a new show opening at Artspace on thursday night as well. One of the rooms has pieces by a finnish couple TELLERVO KALLEINEN and OLIVER KOCHTA-KALLEINEN, who've been exploring alternative documentaries with communities. They know dimitri vilenski well - and so should show something political and interesting, one hopes. Check out

ON things political. UZE MUST giddown to Dockerty (the big gallery next to COFA) this week for disobedience. ( Its is the one chance Australians have of seeing Tony Negri (on video but beta than nothing). Also THIS SATURDAY Squatspace are running the Redfern/waterloo tour of beauty. Thiss should be fun but tickets are already sold out! - but go down & check out the show anayway. You can beg to be invduded on the next bus tour:

Before I continue with more interesting informative stuff, I need to do a grumpy rant. I've been bedridden for over a week, and unable to go ut to shows and art generally. Things got so bad, I have had to resort to the weekend SMH for entertainment. I know it isn't particulary original to whinge about John McDonald, but his columns really really got me down - especially this week. Here I was lying in bed, champing at the bit to get out and see all the nice stuff that gets reviewed in 50 words byt the other herald scribes - and longing to indulge my eyeballs in some contemplative goo - and all the big mac can come up with is a fairly tired whinge about patricia piccinini topped wiht a bit of retrogawgaw fluff about Mr. Squiggle.

It's not just the predictably and poorly disguised reactionary subplots of most of his reviews (fortunately he is slowly moving on from the 80's anger against the postmodernist art cospiracy) - coz in a way I still think that most art opens itself up to a type of infectious pluralism. (Oh god I'm gabbling theory) - I'm trying to say that most art has more going on than a simplified political spin could put on it - its AMBIGUOUS and CONFUSING and this is what makes it interesting............. s if he says something is crap then people can go and take a look and think well maybe it isn't crap (or vice versa)

What really shits me is that I suspect that the big mac decides what he'll write about and then come up with an angle to pitch it to the SMH readership (or their subeditor) and that this process probably takes about thirty seconds. Once having decided on 'the line', he then fluffs out a nice little illustrated sermon..... and .... and..... well, I'm all for moralising about art, it makes more far more interesting reading than "golly gosh, well thats new and COMPELLING" but, I'm finding it a bit too sturm and drang lately. I reckon the big mac needs to go forget the rage against the althussarians, and go read some Deleuze - and contemplate Deleuzes take on Nietsche. Then he should try a couple of bulbs, and a pie and then go to the MCA. And, you know, CHILL.

There are REALLY AMAZING AND GOOD THINGS HAPPENING in art that is being shown in sydney right now. Despite the moribund influences of studio closures, a horrible government, crap dole and charles billich, there are a lot of spaces where you can see interesting stuff - for FREE. There is also shitloads of boring stuff. Streetloads of it, and there new dimensions of boredom being plumbed every day in the interests of curatorial exigency, but I find it a bit whinely and neurotic to be constantly bagging boring shit. JM's point about Piccinini was , you know, OK. Arguable, but, since when was RosOx9 ever a hotbed of challenging contemporary culture? Maybe i've missed something but I thought it was meant to be like the collins&kent of contemproary art - one of those places that display THE BIG NAMES. so people can go there and see officially verfiable,silver stirling hot art market property right now. You don't need to have an opinion or engagement with it at all. I guess this explains the weird architecture (its not a really cruisy place for hanging out and picking your nose; believe me I've tried). No. One goes to the ox to be seen seeing what there is to be seen. The art content is just a side line, one might as well discuss the font on their floorsheets.

I just wish I could read art reviews on paper that are longer than 100 words. And I wish the beastly sermon on saturday could be given to someone who ENJOYS the art a bit more. I don't think this is incompatible with having a critical judgement - but I think (hope believe) that art writing can be done - which enables viewers to engage with and articulate their own responses. Maybe this is too much for the herald. Hell, it certainly is. But JM isn't the antichrist or a terminal fuckwit. He does actually make a point of visiting galleries and geetting to know artists and their work - so why not use the gig he's got to write something that might help more people enjoy art more?

Back to the news.

Wednesday night has a show opening at firstdraft with a scary curatorial statement.

this looks so interesting I'm scared its another slot style plot to undo me. But I'll chuck it in & Uze can make up yur own minds.

To Think We Almost Made It

A magnificent exhibition of such unwavering doubt and investigation
that it is presented only through sheer will and unqualified

Artists Craig Bender, Christopher Hanrahan, Andrew Liversidge, Rob
McLeish, Todd McMillan, Tom McMullan & Tillie Baker, Nigel Milsom,
Michael Moran and Vicki Papageorgopolous present statements as
questions, create beautifully detailed yet frightfully banal sets,
perform destructive actions, compile misguided thoughts, engage in
entropic searches and sing country songs. It hasn’t yet be discerned as
to why. If they knew that, there probably wouldn’t be a point.

Mind you, it has yet to be ascertained as to whether there is a point
or not; but then again, you’ve got to do what you can with what you’ve

Curated by Michael Moran.

Opening night drinks: Wednesday September 21 2005 6-8pm
Exhibition open: Wednesday September 21 to Saturday October 8 2005
Firstdraft opening hours: Wednesday-Saturday 12-6pm

I wish it to be noted that I found this press release informative, thorough and correct.

Thursday looks like it will be one hell of a night with openings left right and centre. Grab yerselves a booze bus and get going.
SNO studio/gallery is an interesting space of mid career artists doing lots of stuff. They've gone retro this month with a special show with the legendary Syd Ball.
The show is called "ambient abstraction" with Syd Ball, Lyn Eastaway, Slavatore Panaterri and Justin Andrews.
If you like abstract pating or wanna see more of the good stuff - then this should be interesting.

11 Faversham Street, Marrickville Thursday, Friday Saturday 1-6pm (phone for

On friday - Sydney Uni Sir Hermann Black has a show by SCA students.The show is called INSIDIOUS: six
contemporary artists responding to the environment.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Snot A Lot

Couldn't give a rave on radio this week

I've lost my voice

I have beeen away from the computer for a few days.

I aslo missed the opening of disobedience (bugger) and Banalities for the perfect house (bugger).

Disobedience has a big bus tour thing on the 24th (organised by suqatspace)
the artlife did a promo:

beofre collapsing I did see a couple of things that made me feel really happy.

One was Zanny Beggs "uniform " installation at mori. she's stretched a whole heap of tiny little canvases with bits of pretty cloth and arranged them up on the wall. the form a pixelaated image of a face -whihc only gets resolved when you Step right back.
Regina walter's big spectacl;e chain stalactite was nice wiht the other drawings. I didn't 'get the video" and everything looks forlorn in the hangar.
Luke Parkers "twin hanging" was a scarey sombre little piece in the back room. Its about the twin hanging of 2 boys in Iran for un husbandlike behaviour. He has some lightboxes with poignant text.

Before collapsing I also went to the MCA Primavera artists floortalks. Primavera made me rool happy this year coz it has a lotta painted stuff.

I was happy to see Monica Behrens crazy pop stuff stuck in a room - and bemused by her 'stupid as a painter' primitivist act. "Yeah, like I'm sooo hungover ...and yeah .... like this is how I kinda do stuff". Keeping it real, and playing dumb against the MCa edcuational staffs query about 'still life being traditional' - so that curator Felicity Fenner - could provide the authentic interpretation of Monica's work.
sorry that last sentence made NO sense.
the paitnings are big bright smooth oil paitnings of big kitsch objects. Like steaks, sausages, McMansions, prawns, a tin of Mr Sheen. Behrens' has arragned them into scenarious she calls still lifes and them painted them. they are cool. I wish she'd acknoweldged Gordon Bennets use of Mr. sheen to stand in for John Howard.

Tom Muller has to fight against my own fearful prejuedice agsaindst that old buzz word "mapping". His work was also minimalist, and geometric. Runways, weather. Dry. He spoke about the passport project tho.

Fiona Lowrys works are spooky and intense but scarily reminicent of Howard Arkley (its the spray can thing), and Madeleine Kelly's floaty weird images are...floaty weird images.

Yukultji Napangati has a whole heap of wormy scenes on the gorund floor whihc segued into another room of indegenouss abstracts by Pedro Wonaeamirri. The latter had lots of rarrking. I don't know much more aobut them than the colours and forms (yet).

Danie Mellors big shield room is absolutely fabbo. He's cast a whole heap of shields (that reminded me of Ned Kelly's armour) and painted them with iconographic hints of lost languages. THIS is mapping. There's a nother whole wall - of ceramic boomerangs too. This is a great opener for the show - and really accessible and engaing on fomral, emotic intellectula and aesthetic levels... But I wondered later about the tastefulness of the MCA - whihc hosted a DINNER in the gallery rom. Seeing a whole heap of plates and cutlery reflecting the formal arrouangements of Boomerancs and shields on the wall kind weirded me out.

Jemima Wyman - has convinced me that I need never pick up a paint brush for the rest of my days. She has done a MASSIVE DAYGLO ENAMEL PANORAMA of Cradle mountain in Tassie. And dried the enamel layers so bits of it shrunk and shrivelled. Its really really really yummy, and engaging and insane.

I was invited to be part of the panel for Michelle Usher's 'feedback' discussion on her installation. The discussion was kinda cool - but the objective/subjective split had me stumped a little (these are the disadvantages of having a degree in scientific epistemology - those terms dont mean much - and popper plus merleau ponty then means complete confusion...... fuck!)

Ignore the above. go see the work. She built a lean to structure with bits of string, canvas and ccurved cardboard in which she could shelter her work - and provide a context where viewers could enter the subject. she's paid such a nice amount of attention to the detial of setting and framing, and placement of potplants, chairs and the combo of works on the wall, the large scrolls and the small images is really really nice. I'm so glad we a re post post object, and post post dichtomising of media. This is a sensuous experiential and evocative work on so many levels.Makes me glad people are still making art.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Painful art

I'm meant to be doing matters tomal but reading through the comments I feel compelled to write some sort of serious response - especially to Ian & others comments about Parr.

What do you really think I would do if I saw someone get hit by a car????

I feel that I would

A) run over to them first
B) call for help
C) sit with them and bear witness to their suffering and terror - or death

For me, good political art is related to the latter - but oh but, art is related to life, and both (for me) at least are intensely related to FAILURE. (I want to do this -but I can't)

witnessing someone suffering is incredibly difficult and distressing and almost unbearable.

My way of bearing witness - or being with someone, or being with myself is to DRAW. Or to write. But drawing involves an immmediate response rahter than the refractory process of finding words........

I watched a close friend dying in hospital last year. I was sitting in a room with other artists. He was passing in and out of conscioussness and throwing up. He was in agony, and he was dying and there was nothing we could do, except to sit with him, so he wasn't alone. At the same time- he was so evidently alone. He begged us not to draw him. We didn't. At this point there was nothing I could do - suffering is a profoundly intimate experience - and yet also a profoundly social one. Later on I cried in my studio, while touching up paintings of him where he'd posed for me and others at a sketch club. Painting a body that no longer existed. Remembering flesh that was only mine to see and remember, not to feel. I finished the painting and gave it to his girfriend - who'd been the main carer as he died. My memories, sensations and impossible grief - all I COULD do with it WAS make a painting. I'm an artist and that's what artists do. Someone said to me that they regarded the exchanges of life drawing as about love, memory passing between people. we draw from someone that has a history of experiences, and who won't be present once they stop posing, and that won't be present when they die. Drawing is bearing witness.

I can't bear to visit the refugees in Villawood. I don't know how I would meet their face without sobbing. They would lose face and so would I. If I'd had the time, I would have attended Parr's live performance to sit with him and to draw him, slowly and intensely - so to have a discrete version of the exchange that is impossible to have. And yes - I would have like to have done a drawing of him, not to have an image of his performance - but to alow myself an extended moment of engaged spectatorship. I (niaively????) beleive that he did reach the Artaudian moment in these performances.

For a bit of context (this is where my life coalesces somewhat.) you can read about my experiences of activism, art and horrible suffering please see "this is what democracy looks like at:

the hard copy is available at COFA art store in a zine on sale where the cash goes to the NSw refugee action coalition.

I really love Jebni's discussion of Woomera 2002 on anti popper.

For my views on 'regarding the pain of others' (the exprience not the sontag book) see:

For my own visceral experience of pain and paint check out:

Hope someone has time to wade through the above.

ON pain and paint, Last night I attended the opening of my friend Steve Kirby at Legge Gallery.

His 6 small peices were in the back section of the downstairs gallery - and kind of next to the large collage works by Peggy Randall.

Both artists have produced these latest body of works while in physical pain. As I said, Steve is my friend, and I know more about his works and his conditions of producing them, so that's what I'll describe here.

Steve has previously shown works at Legge composed of collaged elements of paintings, all floating on a network of ply joints and floating in a box frame. An example of these is currently in the upstairs store room at Legge.

these latest pieces appear far more as representational paintings. There's one on the back insdide cover of september's art almanac. It looks like a bunch of flowers. Noice????

There is a big cultural schism between art criticism which describes art as a serious of semiotic elements - as representations of something (signifiers if you're a structuralist) or metonyic signposts of a discrete experience (if you're a phenomenological neo kantian) .... and the words of artists who experience art as a set of processes, exchanges with the pieces as residues of those experiences.

Steve is preoccupied with focal points - and what a painting becomes in the space within the focal point where it stops being an image. The difference for me between his last 2 shows - were that the collages - look like this:

ie large assemblies of pink blobs - objects/colours/abstracts....... they don't look like anything in particular - except something that the viewer wnats to have acloser look at. Once you are close, you can see the incredible array of marks and elementshat have beencreated and assembled together. Inside each fragment is another paitnng and another world that is incredibly suggestive.

the current paintings look like this:
which is ostensibly a view from his kitchen in the morning.

Up close the image looks like some delicate transluscent oil paint laid over a thick soft warm slab of gesso (plaster) which has bubbles in it. The image is disrupted by the surface of marks and the surface on which it is painted on. The varying densities of pigment in the windows is evocative of the abstract characters that Steve takes into his other works.

As I wrote earlier -he also has a bit from the mask of MArrickville Jelly Wrestling hero "The somnambulist". ( I'm not just adding this for official "quirky" kudos. The mask - a white disk with portals for eyes - evoke the role of viewing, and act as the figure within the painting - the mnemonic element which reminds the viewer of our own viewing into the scene. My favourite bit in the painting is actually the goopy little blue creature on the left (miraculously disguised in a bunch of lowers).

Steve's paintings are all about these strange little goopy creatures that viewers inveitably imagine when we are confronted with somethieng we can't quite understand. He has a strong intellectual interest in "analogic seeing" whihc is the historical process of how visual culture (everything form astronomy, to microscopy and art) has been informed byt eh processes of identificiation and imagination and anthropomorphism of viewers.

The best illustration of this preoccupation in this show (for me) is in the base of flowers. Steve said the only representaiton element is the shadow - whihc he copied onto the board from a shadow cast by a bunch of flowers. The shadows lookk almost lke a bunch of mayan glyphs on stalks. He repainted the vase and flowers - drawing from the shadow - again playing with the tension between object and image. If you have NO CLUE what I'm on about PLEASE go and look at the work. Stand up close and sniff - and go in the day - so you can see the crystalised glints of the gesso - and then stand back, and then move in again. Welcome to painting.

In these works the lumps, air holes and strange blobs act as a disruptive element for our desire to see an image. the present a type of visual static which is a distraction to the smooth play of verisimilitude. They are portals into this other play of objectness and suggestiveness within the medium of paint and the act of painting itself. What is interesting is to note, is the space inside the viewer - between the point of credibiility of an image and where it seems like mess or chaos, or disruption.

For Steve - this space is actually denotative of embodiment - and it is an extremely visceral and inarticulate space of sensation. Where something we look at is no longer an image and not quite a body - then what is it? "un tache" a stain, an abject remnant - it is extremely abject - something not quite us and not us - sort of evacuated from the body and yet intrinsically corporeal. Looking at something confusing in this way - does produce a deeply physical response. As much as I love these works - I and others EDGED AWAY when we tried to have conversations. They are discomforting, and affecting. They were interesting to be among, alone, but really disruptive to a coherent train of thought. they do evoke the strange spaces of being, of being as a confused collection of sensations and urges (oh dear I'm going Deleuzian).

they are also about pain and phsycial discomfort. I'm hesitant to write this because I'll end up presenting Steve's work like those foot and mouth painters. Hell . Everyone has a body - and bodies are painful annoying fleshy coils of mortality for most people - at least some of the time.

The visual censorship of imperfect bodies in consumer culture is not very far fremoved from the public cencorship of impoerfect images in art culture. I know when I'm teaching oil paitning - that I'm fascinated to watch the gestures of cleaning, containment and wiping that so many (women expecialy) engage in. Lots of my students ARE SCARED OF THE PAINT, and the awkward blobs of goop on their palette. The like to have perfect neat slugs of pure tubal paint that they squeeze out and apply onto the canvas as thin dry bits of colour in between pre drawn lines. They like neat palettes. Many othese paitners have neat houses, neat hair and neet bodies, and clothes purchased regularly washed and ironed. Its easy to mock the bourgeousie but its also amazing to note - when women spend most of their lives, wiping, cleaning, correcting themselves and their spaces that they carry this even into something as innoccuous as paint.

Here I'd like to revive my mank manifesto days and declare that the only form of artistic and personal liberation is through embracing chaos and abjection. (but fuck it was hard maintainign my dreadlocks).

What I'd prefer to emphasise -and what is more pluralistic - is that PAINT is an extremely good and safe space where we can explore a different form of embodiment and being in the world. We can be sloppy, and stupid, and messy and confused and cluttered and awkward. No one will die and you don't lose your day job. In painting we can fail and flail and its OK. For me interesting paintings are the ones where some of this fragility is maintained - not a dumb defiance or art brut - but a kind of aspiring, delighted, intense but not quite there yet, confused strange delerium. IN english paint is eaten up by the word pain. What a great language! I don't see pain as a morbid masochistic indulgencevof the tortured soul of 'the artist' (TM). but a space where life in all its mess and pain can be acted out and communicated to others. For viewers this erxists in the point where we fall in love with a work or can't take our eye off it and don't know why.

I'm starting to think of Cixous ravings about Rembrandt's Bathsheba and wishing I could be in Melbourne. Rembrandt rocks - his surfaces are very very embodied. His work "lives" todya not because he painted every day form teh age of 12 upwards and had a fine skill of a 17th century traditional craftsman (if you want see that do statens museuum fer kinst in denmark and you can trawl through rooms of the stuff - its cold). Rembrandt - especially in his later works -but hell its there in much of them - communicates a rich comfort with his own body - as a desiring, fleshy, goopy, aging feeling thing - his eyes are divine byt so art eh hands and faces - and this affective affinity wiht the complexity of feeling a body is what makes his work magic.

This segue is a prologue for me heading off to the MCA this arvo to be the "official painter" at michelle usher's audience forum for the Primavera artists talks. shebang starts at 2.30 - I'll be there by 4pm i guess. I doubt it'll be one of those painful new media vs old media debates (thabks god the 90's are over) so I'm interested to see what will happen.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Mayhem on Monday

Brain is very slow this week

I wnet to a nice opening of monoprints and drawings by PTerea Felows on the weekend. These are all works based on her Brett Whitely shcolarship residency at the Cite in PAris.

Petrea is one of the very few artists who has the drawing skills to pull of a 19th century tres retro tribute to the ville lumiere - and so the boyd of work was fairly unsurprising and quite conservative but still engaging and pleasing collection of images.

My favourite was the gouache on the paper plate of the the inside of Napoleon 3rds deluxe apartment. this guy crapped over Donatella Versace - and you can see the original in stu on the top floor of the Louvre. The smoky birdman on the balcony at Notre Dame - was also pretty nice - she's not a big figure painter - so this was a nice surprise.

There's a lot hapepning this week - and I'm tyring to ignore it.

Tomorrow night a close friend of me has an opening at Legge Gallery tomorrow night. He ernestly assures me that it is complete crap - but the invite image featres the mask from the jelly wrestling champ "the somnambulist" aka micky quick.......... how this ended up in a Bathrust interior is a mystery but proof that the art world is very small.

Mr. & Mrs won the Lempriere cash. A very fair choice - coz it'll be shared between two artists. Mr. & Mrs. are actually married - and are a couple of collaborating cofa students who do performancy stuff together......... this peice is Barneyesque - and less unsettling that the scarey little Britney clone last year........

Primavera is the other hot item of art news: To make up for the strict opening night entry policy they have a free public meet and greet thing on wednesdya arvo at 2.30pm.

" Meet the artists! Gallery talks by Primavera 2005 artists Danie Mellor (ACT), Tom Mùller (WA), Pedro Wonaeamirri (NT), Michelle Ussher (VIC), Monika Behrens (NSW) and Fiona Lowry (NSW)."

Primavera is the MCA's annual and highly-regarded “talent spotting” art event, unveiling works by artists from across the country, many of them the stars of the future! Under the direction of guest curator Felicity Fenner Primavera 2005 questions and re-interprets landscape painting as a genre. In the hands of the younger generation the landscape becomes a place of leisure, a view from the car window, a playing field, home, and a place of environmental concern. Wide-ranging in perspective but sharing a common passion for the Australian landscape and for painting, Primavera 2005 is a great place to see the next generation of young artists showing what’s pertinent to them, and how they’re reworking an old tradition to become fresh and relevant to today’s world.

Artists included are: Monika Behrens (NSW), Madeleine Kelly (QLD), Fiona Lowry (NSW), Danie Mellor (ACT), Tom Mùller (WA), Yukultji Napangati (WA/NT), Michelle Ussher (VIC), Pedro Wonaeamirri (NT), Jemima Wyman (QLD).

The interesting thing will be the disobedience show - opening at Dockerty on Friday.

Knowing the curators and the artists - i believe it will be a very seriously considered use of the gallery space to frame some cultural interventions in social life.

I don't think I can edit the 40 minute interview with Dimitri Vilensky in time. shit. He has 3 videos - exploring the triad of artist/worker/intellectual. This includes some rare footage of TOny Negri - so punters cna at least get a gander at whoat the fuss is about. Squatspace will also be there as well as Suzanne (don't step on my hair!) Victor.

I was at a talk recently where some people were gabbing on about "The death of the artist" (big fat yawn). I'm really into the death of 1980's stalinist structuralism. The ego game is tres vile - but Getting socially ocnsiocus artists do duck out of it in the name of the revolution, Brecht or CCDP, won't help anyone really - and it means that the art star turf gets hogged by boring boy egomaniacs.........

I went to another talk where someone was reviving HABERMAS (See frankfurtschool intellectuals) as an exploration of the gallery as a public forum - moreover - a forum where one could learn how to behave in hte public sphere - itself being a rather selective group.

I guess the blogosphere is more pressing at this point.

but in defence of the big white cube - I like the idea of phsyical proximity to objects and ideas - and having a space where we can learn to engage with them in an honest but reasonably polite manner. I'm not sure if anyone knows how to do this.

I went to Sin city the other night - and was the only person in the cinema screaming with schock, schlock and delight. Everyone else is either feigning or has acutally become "the jaded cinema viewer" - even in the dark! gosh.

So what hope is there in a well lit white cube, where people are even conscious of their haircuts? How can anyone actually pull a face or moan at some gory schlock - or giggle at some silly crap? If publics don't learn or find ways to articulate incomprehension or alienation or confusion - then we do end up with a polarisation of bland ennui of tolerance - or reactionary censorship.

I was provoked to think about this - be remembering when Monica Tichahek finished art school before winning the Lempriere. Her final year piece - showed her suspended from a heap of hooks for hours. Crikey. My hair stood on end and I screamed just looking at it. No one else did. Why the hell not? And I woder if anyone acutally cired when they saw mike parr wiht his face sewn up? OK reading aobut it - it sounds like a banal stunt - but actually seeing someone in the flesh - trying to represent refugees in cocnertration camps - who do the same and CAN'T BE SEEN is emotive stuff. It'd be nice if a gallery would be space where the spectacle of pain could be something other than numbing and silencing....... dunno how tho.