02 December 2013

Snippets: Perth, Oct 2013

A 3-year collaboration between Perth's Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA) and New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the MoMA series presents the second of its five shows titled "Van Gogh, Dali and Beyond". Among the master paintings and monochromatic photographs, repetition of forms bind my two favourite displays. Elmer Schooley's 'German Landscape' feature rows of prostrating figurines on a brownish background, their small variations in posture resulting in a picture that depicts weightless mass. Arman's 'I Still Use Brushes' is wickedly sarcastic and successfully expresses a neurotic obsession to accumulate found objects, while commenting on the popularity of colour field painting during this time.

Arman - I Still Use Brushes (1969)

AGWA's collection holds much Australian aborigine art, yet what draws attention is Ken Unsworth's 'Suspended Stone Circle'. Smooth dinosaur egg-shaped rocks are suspended in a circular formation, presenting an ancient preoccupation to impose structure onto nature, the flotation in a gallery space stripping it off any environmental context. An emotional powerhouse of a painting, Arthur Boyd's 'Bridegroom Drinking from a Creek II' recalls Indonesian art with its swirling landscape and luminous coloured subjects. Part of his "Love, Marriage and Death of a Half-Caste" series which highlights aboriginal living conditions, Arthur illustrates a desperate scene of a suppressed community.

Arthur Boyd - Bridegroom Drinking from a Creek II (1959)

Proximity Festival arranges one-on-one intimate performance sessions with an individual, allowing artists to "take creative risks" and present repeatable experiences. I signed up for Program C, which included a short lesson of melting & sculpting metal, and a silly game to re-enact an assassination. Janet Carter's 'Meditation on the Breath' is a soothing exercise where one appreciates the miracle of life via focused breathing instructions. That night's highlight was easily Daniel Levin's 'The Gallery of Impermanent Things', which required posing rigidly for a photogram-like portrait, then transposed onto a full-length phosphorus-layered canvas. The projected image of myself fades within minutes, leaving one to ponder the meaning of portraiture, its temporal existence, and the unnatural desire to expose oneself. Malaysian artists should try holding a similiar festival - who does not want to remember participating in a performance artwork?

Daniel Nevin - Sleep (2006)

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