Sunday, August 28, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
Memory of Ice I, watercolour, 49 x 20.5 cm
Memory of Ice II, watercolour, 20 x 19.5 cm
Memory of Ice III, graphite, 19.5 x 16.5 cm
Our group exhibition opening last at Alliance Francaise in Canberra last night was splendid, it was lovely to see some familiar faces and also to make some fantastic new friends :) These are a few more of my drawings from the show, which will remain open until 16th Sept if you would like to check it out! The inspiration for these particular drawings continues on from thoughts and memories of walking on Fox Glacier in New Zealand last year.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Hi everyone :) I have a few exciting exhibitions coming up, the first of which is opening next Thursday (August 25th). Below are the details for the exhibition, I hope to see you there!
Canyon, scratchboard, 54 x 78 cm (18 panels)
Annika Romeyn (Printmedia & Drawing)
Hyun-Hee Lee (Gold & Silversmithing)
Tommy Balogh (Painting)
Elisabeth De Koke (Ceramics)
Melinda Willis (Glass)
opening 6.30pm Thursday 25th August
exhibition continues until 16th Sept
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
As an artist the subject matter of my work is primarily nature based so the opportunity to hike, drive, and sketch in the spectacular Spanish Pyrenees mountain range was a very direct inspiration for my future work. I became particularly fascinated with the geological history of the region when I saw a display of marine fossils in the visitor’s centre of Parque Nacional Ordesa y Monte Perdido - Walking through this mountainous alpine region it was extraordinary to think that once (400 million years ago) it was tropical rainforest and the sea separated Spain and France. For the first part of my stay in the Pyrenees I was based in a tiny, fairytale, stone town called Torla, just outside the national park, and loved hiking the high and low trails through Ordesa Valley with cow bells tinkling in the background.
looking out at the mountains from Torla
partly a bar Torla + partly the train to Bilbao later on
I also explored the dramatic terrain of Canyon Anisclo as well as participating in a day of canyoning with Luis from Compania Guias de Torla, which involved exploring 2 canyons or "barrancos" (Viandico & Furco) by walking/swimming/sliding down the river and jumping/abseiling when we encountered a waterfall. Turns out I love canyoning, it was amazing! Being able to access areas of the river that couldn't have been seen any other way gave me a dramatically different and inspiring perspective on the landscape.
Canyoning near Ordesa National Park
From Ordesa, which was considered part of Aragon, I drove to Parc National D’Aiguestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici in Catalunya, again a very different, but absolutely amazing terrain marked by an abundance of beautiful, shining alpine lakes. In Aiguestortes I was able to spend a night in the secluded mountain Refugi Colomers, which allowed me plenty of time to complete the longer lake track circuiting around all the lakes in the area including the surreal dark waters and ice of high altitude lakes still surrounded by snow.
Aiguestortes National Park
view from Refugi Colomers
On the way to Bilbao from the Pyrenees I stopped for half a day in Zaragoza where I enjoyed seeing some of Goya’s early frescoes in the Basilica.
At the Guggenheim, Bilbao I was immediately struck by the organic freedom of Frank Gehry's architecture, especially inside the foyer where the tall curving walls made me imagine I was inside a shell or a skeleton. I also appreciated Gehry's design for the innovative way that he integrated existing elements of the city and the river. A number of great exhibitions were on display at the Guggenheim including the fantastic, contemporary, private collection of D. Dakalopoulos, “The Luminous Interval.” However, my favourite area was, by far, the permanent space devoted to the giant, experiential work of sculptor Richard Serra, which gained power and sensory effect the most time I spent with it.
Frank Gehry's Guggenheim, Bilbao
Richard Serra, "The Matter of Time"
The Museo de Bellas Artes, Bilbao held a wonderful collection of Spanish painting, of which I especially enjoyed the dark, swirling brushwork of Ignacio Zuloaga, and the special exhibition “Sacred Gold” exploring symbolism in pre-hispanic Columbian gold-work. Bilbao's Alhondiga had a very imaginative foyer with forty-three columns of different design and materials intended to represent important or popular materials and styles used over time, and in different cultures.
Monday, August 8, 2011
coolest tour guide ever
I found many of the artworks in the Museo d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona interesting and provoking, but many artworks were at also initially challenging to understand or identify with. This was one instance where joining the daily group tour proved to be amazingly helpful. It turned out that knowing a little more of the context, the social and political situation in Spain at the time the work was made, usually helped in understanding why it was made and why it was important. I enjoyed the video/sculpture/performance work of Sterbak who both used technology to alter bodily experiences and the experience of natural forces, such as gravity. While in a way gravity defying, Sterback's creation also seemed to expose elements of restriction in technology and fashion.
Jana Sterbak, "Remote Control II"
Another highlight of my time in Barcelona was a beautiful classical Spanish guitar concert by Xavier Coll at an amazing art nouveau theatre, Palau de la Musica Catalana, adorned with colourful mosaics, stained glass, and sculpted relief figures and horses emerging from the walls and ceiling.
Palau de la Musica Catalana
From Barcelona I took a day trip to Montserrat where a huge monastery was somehow built high in the mountains, accessed by cable car! The surrounding area was a wonderful place for walking with numerous trails and interesting, bulbous rock formations. My friend David and I walked to summit of Sant Jeroni where there were amazing views of most of Catalunya, before heading back down to look around the Basilica and hear the boy’s choir perform. Unfortunately the boy's choir turned out to be a major tourist attraction and the Basilica was filled to more than capacity with people squeezed in like a rock concert! Returning afterwards I was able to better appreciate the Basilica in peace and quiet.
Summit of Sant Jeroni, Montserrat
the ghost of the Basilica, Montserrat
David on the train back from Montserrat
I also took a day-trip from Barcelona was to Figueres to visit the Teatre – Museo Dali, which was interesting and effective as a surrealist object, however I found that the strange furnishings and environment of the Museum often distracted from, rather than adding to the impact of the best paintings.
Teatre – Museo Dali, Figueres
In the tiny town of Figueres there was a camp of protestors, part of the same nation-wide movement that I mentioned earlier, however instead of the thousands of gatherers I saw in Barcelona, there were about 7 dedicated protesters in Figueres and half of those were juggling/dog-walking.
Protest central in Figueres
Fundacio Joan Miro was an extremely well laid out museum with a fantstic and very unusual temporary exhibition "Genius Loci" made up of immersive installations inspired by and experienced in tandem with songs by independent musicians/bands from Barcelona. It was great to discover some new music in an unexpected environment, I particularly enjoyed Mishima and even bought their CD "Set Tota La Vida," which, later on, became the soundtrack for some long drives in the Pyrenees. My favourite artwork in the permanent collection of the Fundacio Joan Miro was a huge tapestry with amazingly innovative use of heavy texture and dimension.
Miro, "Tapis de la Fundacio"
The Barcelona Caixaforum had a fantastic exhibition of art and artifacts from the Teotihuacan, an ancient city close to Mexico. Amazingly enough, later on in Bilbao, I met a friendly archaeologist form Mexico who works at Teotihuacan. Another exhibition "The Cinema Effect: Illusion Reality and the Moving Image" was honestly one of the best surveys of video art I have seen, I was particularly captivated by Antony McCall's interactive video/installation/drawing(?!) using linear light.
The Museo Picasso gave an insightful, chronological overview of Picasso's life and work, putting into context the many styles he adopted while helping to explain the influences that caused these transitions. It was a very valuable experience to see Picasso's extensive "Las Meninas (after Velazquez)" series, especially after seeing Velazquez's original painting in the Prado in Madrid. I have really begun to appreciate Picasso's interest in shape and composition, when looked at in this way elements of the painted that appear unfinished if you expect them to be figurative (eg bottom right hand corner) actually help to balance the image and break down the picture plane.
Picasso, "Las Meninas (after Velazquez)"
Velazquez, "Las Meninas"
Fundacio Antoni Tapies opened my mind to the philosophical concerns of Spanish painter Antoni Tapies and enabled me to discover that maybe my work has more in common with him that it would appear, specifically the desire to "give a cosmic dimension to an insignificant object... expressing a desire to give value to small things." Aesthetically, I enjoyed the primal nature of Tapies' marks and materials with lines often incised in sand attached to the canvas.
Antoni Tapies, "Matter in the Form of a Foot"
Inside Gaudi's La Pedrera was an exhibition called "Eating Art: from the still life to Ferran Adria", which featured this wonderful painting by Antonio Lopez, I was really attracted to the combination of drawing, painting and collage causing interesting disruptions in the painted surface and creating sensitive layers of real and abstract.
Antonio Lopez, "Dinner"
The Museo Nacional D'Art de Catalunya was a large Museum with some great temporary exhibitions -one focusing on Courbet & ideas of realism and the other on the drawings and artwork of Torres-Garcia. The permanent collection featured a fantastic collection of Gothic and Renaissance altarpieces and sculptures while in the 19th century section I was excited to see Fortuny's "La Batalla de Tetuan," a huge composition of tiny figures, which viewed up close are quite loose and gestural, adding to the energy and activity of the scene.
Mariano Fortuny, "La Batalla de Tetuan"
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Barcelona is a wonderfully eclectic and artistic city, filled with fantastical modernista architecture and more than a few great museums. I happened to visit at an interesting time as the nation-wide political protests (calling for democracy and addressing major issues including high unemployment rates) were in full swing with hundreds of people camping and thousands gathering in Plaza Catalunya, nearby my hostel. I often took time to walk through the protest centre (and found a couple of friends to translate the signs) because it seemed valuable and relevant to learn a bit about what is important to the Spanish people in the here and now, in addition to learning about their history in museums and institutions.
peaceful protesters in Plaza Catalunya
The weekend I arrived, excitement filled the city as Barcelona took on Manchester United and won the European Cup of Soccer. The victory led to a massive amount of people celebrating in the street, including dancing on top of light-poles, fireworks all night, and the football team parading around on a double-decker bus the following day.
a sketch of some American guys I experienced the soccer celebrations with (they contributed the smiley face & a portrait of me at the bottom)
Visually, Barcelona is defined by the genius of Gaudi and his wild, curvaceous architecture. I loved the organic vaults and archways of Parc Guell, the alien stone figures/chimneys populating the rooftop of La Pedrera, and the swirling marine inspired interior of Casa Battlo.
Gaudi's La Pedrera
listening to fun & energetic music by Buenas Costumbres in Parc Guell
Gaudi's most ambitious and extraordinary project, La Sagrada Familia, was breathtaking and a clear example of Gaudi's interest in the geometry of nature. Many natural forms and structures can be seen in the complex interior of La Sagrada Familia, including the branching tree-like columns and radiating shapes of palm leaves on the ceiling. It's hard to believe that, almost a century after beginning, this epic project is still under construction using traditional stone-masonry techniques. The Sagrada Familia already stands high above the surrounding city, but with the largest towers still to be built I would be fascinated to return one day and see how it has changed.
Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia sketch
In Valencia I stayed across the street from the amazing Mecardo Central, a brilliant fresh food market where I purchased kilos of strawberries and cherries as well as other favourites like Jamon (cured ham) and Queso de Cabra (goats cheese) while gaining a liking for Valencia's famous drink Horchata (made of earth almonds). My hostel was next-door to La Llonja, a gothic silk exchange building with beautiful twisted columns. Not far away the sculpted facades of the Cathedral and Palacio de Marques de los Aguas were also gorgeous. In contrast to the historic architecture, Valencia is home to the fabulous space-age architecture of the City of Arts and Sciences (a huge science museum & aquarium complex), with a variety of unusually shaped buildings that can only be described as out of this world!
Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias sketch
Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias
In Valencia, I was grateful to receive an extremely warm welcome at the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno (IVAM) where I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of curators who introduced me to the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. I was even able to see an exhibition of contemporary Brazilian art, which was still in the process of being installed - "
A Giant by Thine Own Nature" featuring an amazing line drawing, by Sandra Cinto, evocative of the cosmos.
The permanent collection focused on the work of artist Julio González, primarily a sculptor with a great ability to use flat planes and linear pieces of iron to analyse, assemble and abstract compositions of shape and space often based on the human figure.
Temporary exhibitions included "Masterpieces of Painting in the Collection of IVAM. Past, Present, Future," a broad survey of trends in 20th century painting, and "Ignacio Pinazo", 19th century figurative painter and his studies leading to the painting "The Smoke of Love". However, I most enjoyed Liliane Tomasko's exhibition "Luminous matter" which approached everyday domestic subjects like stacks of clothes and window-sills in an ambiguous, painterly way, treading the borderline between abstraction and representation while employing subtle shifts in colour and light to create mysterious, transcendent spaces.
The historical art museum in Valencia, Museo de Bellas Artes San Pio V, was also very welcoming and I had a lovely guide who helped me to learn a lot, particularly about the layout and meaning of early multi-paneled altar paintings (14 and 15th Century), which are quite unbelievable combinations of painting and sculpture, and a very important part of the museum's collection.
Nicolás Falcó y Onofre, Damián y Pablo Forment, "Retablo Eucarístico del Convento de la Puridad de Valencia"
For me the other highlight of the Museo de Bellas Artes San Pio V was definitely Ribera's "San Sebastian Atendido por Santa Irene" for his amazing command of anatomy and gesture, dramatic use of light, and the strong contrast between the almost peaceful expression on San Sebastian's face and the contorted tension in his body.
Ribera, "San Sebastian Atendido por Santa Irene"