Blown away

It was very sneaky of the organisers of the Dobell drawing prize to tell me that I got a mention in this review, but not let on what that mention was.

All good!

The full review of the show by Tracy Clement can be read in the May/June print edition of Art Guide Australia or it can be read online here. The installation photo was taken by Peter Morgan, the in-house photographer at the National Art School in Sydney.

Drawing the exhibition – Bodies of Art

Bodies of Art: Human form from the national collection, is currently on display in the downstairs sculpture rooms of the National Gallery of Australia. I spent the morning there quietly sketching away. The exhibition is a stimulating mix of sculpture, paintings, photography and video works which provided me with lots of interesting compositions to work on.

My first sketch was a grouping of stone sculptures, Torso, 1948 by Rosemary Madigan and Number 24, Harry Boyd by Robert Klippel and a third piece, an Anthropomorphic monument [gowe nio niha], (19th century or earlier) from the island of Nias in Indonesia. I was instantly drawn to the sandstone used in the two Australian works. The deep gougemarks on the Klippel sculpture acted like lines drawn across the surface. In contrast the smoother texture of Madigan’s work supported the subtlety of her torso’s carved planes.

Left to Right, Torso; Anthropomorphic Figure; Number 24, Harry Boyd, graphite with added watercolour

Behind me was an interesting juxtaposition of a hanging work by Giulio Paolini, Aria (Air), 1983 and beyond that, Triptych, 1970, by Francis Bacon.

Paolini’s work consists of two photographs of a renaissance sculpture sandwiched between perspex and hang from a steel cable. The work slowly gyrates beneath the high gallery ceiling, while underneath lies a piece of shattered glass. Behind it hangs Bacon’s equally fractured figures, curiously feeling much more grounded and solid than Paolini’s figure does.

Giulio Paolini, Aria (Air), 1983 and Francis Bacon, Triptych, 1970, pencil with added watercolour

While I drawing the partial elements of the Bacon triptych into this sketch, I became quite intrigued by the figures in the work’s central panel. After a restorative cup of coffee and some biscuits in the Member’s Lounge I returned to my final sketch of the day, the detail of the central panel.

There is certainly scope for more drawing here, so I will plan to make it back there soon.

All the sketching was done in the gallery and the watercolour was added afterwards.

Oops, I forgot to mention the Dobell Drawing Prize!

At the Dobell Drawing Prize announcement with my work ‘365 Days’

Looking back on my blog I just realised that I hadn’t posted about the Dobell Drawing Prize 2019, which includes my work ‘365 Days’. Spoiler alert – I didn’t win the $30,000.

The big announcement was made two weeks ago, at the end of March and I went up to Sydney for the event. I always find openings and suchlike quite intense experiences and this show, being the most prestigious I have been selected into was no exception.

The 2019 prize panel called for, among other things, drawings in non-traditional media. This resulted in a wide display of techniques and materials across the 58 finalists. It appeared to me that this was a key element of the selection criteria where the public might have been a bit better informed. There was lots of “but how is this drawing” remarks floating around in the gallery on the night. I certainly had that asked about my work and Justine Varga’s winning work using paint into wet photographic medium also copped a lot of the same.

Justine Vargas winning work, ‘Photogenic Drawing’

I think the gallery might have also increased the understanding of the works by including the artist’s statements in the wall text. I doubt that anyone would realise that my work was made over the course of a year, just by looking at it. When I did look at works with the catalogue in my hand l really came to appreciate a many works that had previously appeared quite difficult to grasp.

With such a broad range of styles on display it must have been a challenge for judge Ben Quilty to make a final choice. There is both seriousness and fun in this show. Chris Doherty (aka Reg Mombassa) certainly got my prize for the best use of glitter in a drawing.

Chris O’Doherty, ‘Robot Priest with captured Australian’

There were also a number of exquisite pencil drawings and this wonderful landscape by Western Australian artist Sonia Kurarra.

Sonia Our area, ‘Martuwarra’

The Dobell Drawing Prize exhibition is being held at the National Art School in Darlinghurst, Sydney and will run until 25 May 2019.

PS My work is featured on the inside back cover of the catalogue!

Brett Whiteley – Drawing is Everything

This week we had a two hour window to see one exhibition in Sydney, before we had to catch our bus back to Canberra. So Brett Whiteley ‘Drawing is Everything’ was the unanimous choice.

Arriving early, before the gallery opened, I took the opportunity to sketch Gilbert Bayes PBRS sculpture ‘The Offerings of Peace’ (1923), from across the road. In honour, no doubt of my artistic endeavours, I was duly shat upon by Pied Currawong sitting in the tree overhead.

AGNSW

The Offerings of Peace, Gilbert Bays, PBRS, 1923

On entering the gallery we were immediately caught up in the vitality of Whiteley’s works, predominantly made with pen and ink and brush an ink. It was fascinating to see how Whiteley intensely studied the works of Van Gogh, Lloyd Rees and other artists as he developed his own style.

The gallery was encouraging visitors to draw while visiting the show, providing pencils and a small A4 folded piece of paper.

Whiteley2

Her‘, carvings in Mangrove wood, 1975 to c. 1980 (LHS); a quote by Whiteley “A good drawing (should be) loose, casual, abandoned, odd, wonky, immediate,swift, detached, +soaked in feeling, it should be brief, not just spare or simple, not just quick, It should be brief, beautifully brief, like the best Japanese art, like the soul’s shorthand.”

Luckily I also had my own paper as there were several other sketches I wanted to make.

whitely 1

After Brett Whiteley, Wendy Drunk, 1983, original, brush and black and brown ink. My version, pencil on paper.

It was intriguing to see how Whitely playfully amalgamated and created images, such as the following sketch of Matisse, putatively sitting in the Luxembourg Gardens, reading a newspaper.

After Brett Whiteley, Henri Matisse reading a newspaper in the Luxembourg Gardens, 1989 ink and brush. My version pencil on paper with watercolour added later.

Much as I enjoyed sketching in the gallery, the relative stiffness of the pencil sketches, compared to the brush works in particular, was underlined by a quote by Whiteley “Have you ever seen a pencil drawing that isn’t safe?” (p9, Brett Whiteley Drawings, Lou Klepac, The Beagle Press, Sydney, 2014)

Brett Whiteley: Drawing is Everything
Art Gallery of New South Wales, on until 31 March 2019

The Dobell Drawing Prize 2019

I’m thrilled to share the news with you that my work ‘365 Days’ is one of 58 finalists in the Dobell Drawing Prize 2019. The Prize showcases the expanded field of drawing, celebrating innovation, technical skills and diverse media.

The National Art School in association with the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation will present the Dobell Drawing Prize on 28 March 2019.

Over the course of 2017, I used a simple set of rules to generate a work where my hands and my memory made marks, without the intervention of my sight. The rules were stitch daily and stitch with my eyes closed. The year’s marks read as a map of my mind and hands finding their way across a bounded space.

The judges, Michelle Belgiorno, Simon Cooper and Ben Quilty, said of the submissions:

“We were amazed not only by the number of entries, but by their quality and sheer variety of approaches to drawing. It’s clear that today’s artists explore drawing’s full range of possibilities – from sculptural, performative and digital drawings, to extremely skilful works using classic materials such as charcoal and ink. We’re thrilled to see such technical talent and innovation reflected in this year’s shortlist.”

The exhibition of finalist’s works, will be held at the National Art School, running from 28 March – 25 May 2019

National Art School | Forbes St, Darlinghurst NSW

Kusama

I have long enjoyed seeing the work of Yayoi Kusama and today I got a double shot. We went and saw the documentary about her life and work ‘Kusama-Infinity’ and then drove over to the National Gallery of Australia to see her installation work ‘The Spirits of the Pumpkins Descended into the Heavens.

Highly recommended!

The movie spends some time looking at her early work in America. This was what I found most interesting. Her early work really ‘stands up’, over time. It’s a lot tougher than the brightly coloured work we tend to associate with her today. I also got a better understanding of the misogyny and rip-offs she faced (and other female artists too) during that time. Her resilience is even more remarkable than I had realised.

Back at the National Gallery of Australia we met up with friends and had a look at one of her signature installations. I learned from the documentary that these were originally referred to as “peep shows”, which reflects the tougher work she was making in her younger days.

Pumpkins peep show.