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.
This was an amazing collaboration – painted blocks by school children to make a portrait of their outgoing principal. I remember very similar wooden cubes being used in early schooling to aid counting practice.
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.
Notice the reflection. The subject is incredibly interesting in and of themself.
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.
Are artist couple – the artist intentionally stripped the surroundings.
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.
A very well executed piece of art – the subject is a 102 years old!
This was an interesting comment on souvenirs and the projection of indigenous culture onto artefacts for tourism.
One of at least two self portraits of recent mothers. This one she’s named it clown or similar, and it’s her daughter’s tutu. The other mother self portrait was… not at all to my taste.
A famous TV personality – so the TV behind her shows a reflection of her family. I didn’t realise it was a reflection until reading the children’s blurb. The red bandana’ed man was painted for the portrait prize the year prior by the same artist.
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?
Not my favourites
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.
The caption panel for this said: In my opinion it is axiomatic that if a painting requires an explanatory text it has failed. IN this particular painting, the title is specific. I certainly need someone to explain it! It was called The Arcadian repose
Related to the connections of conscious and sub conscious mind. Incredibly well done, the artist is Michael Peck
Invisibleness: this was a comment on how women of colour are both invisible and highly visible. It’s incredibly true (from my non coloured perspective). In television, mainstream film politics and art, coloured women are largely invisible. Unfamiliarity makes her highly visible in her everyday life. It’s features which are noticed and seem peculiar.
Lastly, they have (outside the exhibit) children’s contributions. I loved the one below:
What a dad
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: