Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Alex Kopps and Alex Knost: 'Peripheral' @ Nine Lives Gallery

You know those moments just outside your vision, just outside the moment; you're aware of them but simultaneously, you're not. They are the accidents you wish you documented.  'Peripheral' by  Californian surfer duo, Alex Kopps and Alex Knost picks up on this idea, taking those moments on the edge and putting them into the centre. 

Alex Kopps will be screening  an abstract analog video artwork, founded on reflections and optical tricks, Kopps manipulates  the glitches in point and shoot digital cameras. Alex Knost  will exhibit large optical prints of snap shot photography. With a handful of limited prints and drawings on show, it's going to be a good night....

Exhibition Opens tomorrow night (Thursday March 31st)
From 6pm
Nine Lives Gallery
5F Winn St
Fortitude Valley

Monday, March 28, 2011

Who is this Shida?

"You've probably seen his work before." I say to my friend on our way to Shida's latest exhibition at Melbourne Until Never Gallery. He's hard to miss, head down to the Valley or one of the usually sparse back street alleys of Brisbane and you're bound to see his work there. In Melbourne's Hoiser Lane, Shida's other worldly characters stand out amongst the outdoor gallery and tourist cameras that has become the lane way. 

We walk up a seemingly never ending staircase with no air conditioning, on a painfully hot Melbourne day to see Shida's newest exhibition, 'Crystals of the Colossus,' I swear to her it's going to be worth it. When we get there it's obvious why Shida with his clearly defined style is fast becoming one of Brisbane  street art's most recognisable names........ 

Art Collective: So how did Shida come about?

Shida: The pseudonym itself I came up with about 7 years ago looking for a "tag" to write graffiti with. Not to much thought went into it, i was 14 and just wanted something that sounded Japanese. 

AC: What does a typical day for Shida entail?

S: I wake up around 11am, check my emails, try do something proactive with my art whether its working on paintings, things for the street or just having a sketch. Go for a wonder, hangout with my girl friend, play video games. I think I pretty much have the easiest lifestyle possible.

AC: In your work we see these reoccurring eccentric, seemingly intergalactic characters. Who are they and where did they come from?

S: Stylistically my characters developed from using continuous lines and repetitive natural strokes, making them ideal for painting quickly on the street without plans. This evolved over time into what I do today. The characters themselves are all involved in a world of my own imagining. The more I paint the richer this world becomes. While I have narratives sometimes running through my mind and in the painting these are constantly changing.

AC: Can you explain Crystal of the Colossus?
S: The "Crystals of the Colossus" is one of the mythologies behind my world. You can see one telling of the story here:

 However it like everything else is just a small part of the whole picture.

AC: Your work must keep you busy , do you think your painting has become an extension of yourself?

S: Completely, I am Shida. When I work through my art on the streets and canvas I feel like I'm communicating with the world on a deeper level than in any other way in my life. 

Is there a distinction between your street works and gallery pieces?

S: There is definitely a distinction. The the street offers freedom of scale, and has no commercial over tones, while studio work has no time constraints and allows for a greater variety of mediums. I'm definitely illustrating the same world in both but the approach and intent are different.

AC: What part does  the space/ the environment play in designing a work for the street?

S: Well I prepare most my stickers and posters and then go out and just find some where they will fit. However when painting on the street I never approach a wall with a plan, that way I can make the best possible use of the environment.

AC: Favourite surface to work on?

S: Raw flat cement. 

AC: Best paste-up glue?

S: Pro Tip :)
Boil water and mix in flour, cooking till boil. Aim for the constancy of shampoo. Add sugar for stickiness and salt to deter slugs and to avoid freezing in colder climates. Add as much pva glue/ fabric medium/ gel medium as you can afford to salvage up, the higher the chemical content of the glue the lower chance the pasteup has of rotting in damp/dirty environments.

AC: If you could paint any wall, anywhere, where would it be?

S: Where ever the world's largest is. :)

Check out some more images from Shida's exhibition at Until Never Gallery. All photos by Devika Galardi 


Friday, March 18, 2011

Aussie Portraits from the NGA

 Australian Portraits 1880 – 1960 is a major touring exhibition of The National Gallery’s collection of portraits by Australian artists. The exhibition, consisting of 54 paintings by 34 artists, is in its last week at the University of Queensland Art Gallery finishing on the 27th of March.

This exhibition, despite the boring title, is fantastic. The calibre and range of artists is very impressive, boasting works by Frederick McCubbin, George Lambert, Margaret Preston, Grace Cossington-Smith, Albert Tucker, Sidney Noland, Russel Drysdale, William Dobell and many more. The figures in the portraits range from friends, family, artists and poets to persiennes, flappers, bushranger and serial killers, each portrait concealing and revealing certain aspects of the sitter.

The exhibition was broken up into four categories. The first two, ‘The Victorians 1880-1900’ and ‘The Edwardians 1900-1920’ were hung on rich red walls which complemented, and in a bizarre way authenticated, the viewing experience of these traditional paintings as it creates the feeling of an old world salon. The standouts for me in these first two sections were portraits by Tom Roberts & George W Lambert.

Tom Roberts, 'Study of Lena Brasch' c.1893, via NGA

Tom Roberts, Study of Lena Brasch c.1893 is an unfinished, vibrant portrait full or energy and excitement. Roberts captures the beauty and elegance of his sitter by portraying her as shy and demure with her eyes cast downward and face turned from the audience, as if she was hesitant to reveal too much of herself. Yet Roberts has given her life and personality through the use of thick bold lines, dramatic splashes of bright colour and rapid brushstrokes. This style so untypical of Roberts is only enhanced by the juxtaposition of some of his finished portraits such as An Australian Native 1888, which is a full-length portrait depicting life like realism.

Tom Roberts, 'An Australian Native' 1888 via NGA 

There are two George W Lambert portraits, Chesham St 1910 and Weighing the Fleece 1921, both show the incredible skill and attention to detail of the artist. Chesham St is a self-portrait of Lambert baring his chest in a brazen and unashamed way. This presentation of himself definitely reveals a lot of his personality and validates the claims that he was an extrovert and loved being the centre of attention.

George W Lambert, 'Chesham St' 1910 via NGA

George W Lambert, 'Weighing the Fleece' 1921 via NGA

The second half of the exhibition contains the sections ‘The Modernists 1920-40’ and ‘Forties and Fifties’. With the new outlook on Modern art in Australia came the new approaches to portraiture. This part of the exhibition hosts more female artists than any other section with works by Grace Crowley, Margaret Preston, Nora Heysen and Grace Cossington-Smith, suggesting that Australian Modernism flourished through females. 

The exhibition then finishes with the ‘Forties and Fifties’, which compared to ‘The Modernists 1920-40’ is a lot more male dominated with strong portraits exploring eternal questions. One of the more interesting portraits is Ian Fairweather’s, who depicts himself in his 1962 self-portrait not with paint but as paint, embodying the broad gestural brushstrokes as an expression of himself.

Ian Fairweather, 'Self Portrait' 1962 via NGA 

Lastly, and what I personally consider the best portrait present, is William Dobell’s Sketch Portrait of Dame Mary Gilmore. In this portrait Dobell does not just paint a person - he captures a character. The small painting of the famous Australian poet is a predecessor for the portrait of Dame Mary Gilmore that can be found on the Australian $10 note and won Dobell the 1943 Archibald.  The quick expressive strokes, muted colour scheme and elongated neck reveal the sitter’s dignity and character, which I believe is an essential element to a great portrait.

William Dobell, 'Sketch portrait of Dame Mary Gilmore' c.1956 via NGA

The best way to view this exhibition is with, as the curator Dr Anna Grey said, a reveal and conceal attitude. There is no such thing as an absolute portrait and many of the paintings present, especially the early ones, are constructs of how the sitter wished to be viewed. So go have a look at the exhibition before it moves on and make up your own opinions on the fantastic range of Australian portraits.

Ashleigh Clarke

More images below

Dusan Marek, 'My Wife' c.1952 via NGA

Margaret Preston, 'Flapper' 1925 via NGA

Agnes Goodsir, 'The Parisienne' 1924 via NGA

Grace Cossington-Smith, 'Study of Head: Self Portrait' 1916 via NGA

Albert Tucker, 'A Man's Head' 1946 via NGA

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Breaking Boundaries: Stuart Ringholt and the Naked Tour @ IMA **** Warning this post contains nudity

Lately I've been thinking about getting naked, and wondering if when it comes down to it, I can do it in public. I'm talking of course about Stuart Ringholt's naked tour at the opening of 'Let the Healing Begin,' held at the Institute of Modern Art this Saturday.
Stuart Ringholt, 'Circles Passing,' 2007. via www.annaschwartzgallery.com

Ringholt is opening the exhibition with a tour, conducted from 4-5pm and oh yeah he is going to be naked. Full on right? But the catch is, in order to go on the tour you also have to be naked.

  In undertaking this exercise Ringholt is challenging the relationship between performer and audience, yeah, I know, but before you ride the event off completely, try and think of it as a bit of an emotional exercise. After all this exhibition is all about healing and testing the physical and emotional boundaries of the human body. So why not test yours? 

COSEY FANNI TUTTI 'Sex Une Bonne Idée', Nuffield Gallery, Southampton, UK. 1975

Cosey Fanni Tutti and Genesis P-Orridge in Cease to Exist no. 4, LAICA, USA, 1976.
via Art Lurker

 And is it such a big deal? I mean this isn't the first time nudity has been involved for arts sake. I'm talking about Yves Klein and his Actions during the 1960's and then Cosey Fanni Tutti's performance pieces in the 70's. I think, despite perhaps this arguably more conservative era, the art world tended to be more liberal around this time. 

 Yves Klein, Anthropométries de l'époque bleue, Galerie internationale d'art contemporain, Paris, March 9th 1960.

Of course nudity in art is hardly rare, but I think what highlights this case is the fact that it is in Brisbane- we tend to brush public nudity for arts sake as being something much more European. Yet it was only last year when Stephen Tunick adorned the Sydney Opera House with masses of flesh, 5200 people in fact. However I can't  help but wonder if there is a kind of safety in numbers when it comes to public nudity? Maybe I'm just trying to psyche myself up here, but I keep making a mental list of pros and cons, pro; it would be an amazing experience. Con; my tan is quite patchy. But for those of you who are thinking of taking the plunge, there are some really good pros...

Bonne chance,


'Let the Healing Begin'
Institute of Modern Art
Saturday, March 5th
Tour at 4-5pm followed by the opening at 5pm.