As per my 2017 goals, I’m trying to make an effort to do cultural things, that I enjoy but often pass me by. If I’m smart, I can time my visit to the Archibald portrait prize with the weekend for complimentary tickets for people who bank with the major sponsor, ANZ. Last year, I went a weekend late, but there’s been a black out and so they were extending the generous deal in the following weekends! Again, I mis-timed this visit, but they did reduce the price to concession, which was a nice bonus.
Going to the exhibit alone, I had so many thoughts, so I started drafting this post (in notes in my phone).
Australia seems so small sometimes – none more so that attending the annual portraiture prize this year.
For example, Ahn Do is a well known comedian, whose written at least one book “the happiest refugee”, his family having migrated from Vietnam. But also, he’s more recently had a tv show where he paints portraits – usually known characters so there’s interest in the conversation as much as the outcome. Therefore; not at all surprising one of his works is in the exhibit.
Then there were staid paintings, and on reading the blurbs, all dull and boring in their similarities: chairman of this board or that. Largely conservative but redeemed by philanthropy. The conservatism, politically, was actually expressed by listing the subjects family line. It just bored me. And it was a commission for one of the board he sits on. How is it that people have high executive roles 9-5 and also chair boards? It’s just not something I’m buying into.
There’s also a lot of artists painting other artists (the next picture). That figures. Like fashion designers modelling. And then there’s pieces that I think “I saw this last year” or was it last prize, when the style remains consistent if the subject has changed.
It’s not to say the prize wasn’t without some stunning pieces but overall, there weren’t many I loved or appreciated.
Another coincidence was a stunning portrait of an old (you can surely say that of people older than a centrists?) women, a dancer and choreographer. What surprised and delighted me was that she was painted by a plastic surgeon. The juxtaposition of a wrinkly old lady by a person whose career in some part is about refining and restoring skin.
Some pieces do not seem to indicate any talent. Even any real investment of time to make something – be it thoughtful or beautiful. I wonder if that art is just someone making a joke at the expense of the gallery or the ticket buyers?
The black with white writing was plastic sheeting with ‘unstirred’ house paint. Seriously? And the blurb was as inane. At least the bottom right was related to Cane and Abel and a self portrait, and it seemed a little more considered at least.
In addition to the Archibald, there’s the Sulman and Wynne’s – one is indigenous art, another is landscapes.
Lastly, they have (outside the exhibit) children’s contributions. I loved the one below:
As I expected, I’m thankful I took the time to look at this art (and then the gift store – I love museum and gallery gift stores). It helped me think and ponder what I do and don’t like. Do you have a favourite of the art I photographed?
Oh, and Lucinda, I couldn’t help but think of you: