ABR Arts Visual Arts

Tim

Rayne Allinson
24 April 2020

‘All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,’ wrote the seventeenth-century writer Blaise Pascal. As many of us are discovering, doing nothing alone in a room is a surprisingly difficult and demanding task. Even in these unusual times, when we are being asked – or in some cases, legally required – to stay home and do as little as possible, we are bombarded with suggestions as to how we might fill this sudden excess of time. We can stream a classical concert, watch sea otters floating in distant pools, binge-watch the latest drama series on Netflix, try out ballet fitness routines in our lounge room, or (my chosen method) try to learn the ukulele. And then what? As Pascal knew (even without the benefit of YouTube or TikTok), the easier it is to distract ourselves, the more restless we seem to end up feeling.

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Assembled: The Art of Robert Klippel

Patrick McCaughey
10 March 2020

TarraWarra Museum of Art’s (TWMA) summer exhibition Assembled: The Art of Robert Klippel can only reinforce his reputation as Australia’s foremost modern sculptor. Yet he lacks the public reputation of his contemporary painters – John Olsen, Fred Williams, John Brack, and so on. Klippel (1920–2001) is known largely, if not exclusively, to the world of art. This exhibition may right that historic injustice. Thoughtfully curated by Kirsty Grant, it brought the three basic streams of his art – the drawings, the metal sculpture, and the monumental wood works of his final phase – into a crisp and clear narrative.

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Feedback Loops

Diego Ramirez
02 January 2020

Feedback Loops, curated by Miriam Kelly, brings together artists from Australia and abroad to look at how those born in the 1980s negotiate identity and new media. Neither Gen X nor Millennial, this generation is known as ‘Xennials’ or ‘The Oregon Trail Generation’, in reference to The Oregon Trail (1985), a computer video game that was popular at the time.

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A Place to Paint: Colin McCahon in Auckland

Julie Ewington
18 December 2019

New Zealander Colin McCahon is the greatest postwar artist of the two antipodean countries. Hands down. In his own country, McCahon (1919–87) is a household name, and the exhibition A Place to Paint: Colin McCahon in Auckland at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, and the associated publication of Justin Paton’s McCahon Country (Penguin Books), celebrate his centenary. Surprisingly, though, many Australians don’t know McCahon’s work.

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Water

Alison Stieven-Taylor
11 December 2019

Water. Life on earth can’t exist without it, but beyond the perfunctory, how often do we think about this essential element or about our relationship to it? This is the question at the heart of the blockbuster exhibition Water at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). Through literal and allegorical renderings about water in its various incarnations, the exhibition invites contemplation on the ways that water impacts our lives, as individuals, communities, and more broadly as co-inhabitants of an increasingly fragile planet.

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Hugh Ramsay

Keren Rosa Hammerschlag
03 December 2019

It is with the artist John Longstaff’s words of condolence, quoted above, that the Hugh Ramsay exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra draws to a close. Ramsay (1877–1906) was a promising Australian Edwardian painter who lived and worked for a time in Europe at the start of the twentieth century. His works constitute some of the most innovative and visually arresting examples of early-twentieth-century painting in Australian collections, while his sketches and illustrated letters tell of the experiences of youth and travel in the exuberant period that preceded the Great War.

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Story Time: Australian Children’s Literature

Margaret Robson Kett
03 December 2019

Like a party where you hope to see famous faces, this exhibition offers the familiar – the Green Sheep, the wombats, the Magic Pudding – but also the chance to meet half-remembered friends and to make new ones. Story Time: Australian Children’s Literature, the result of three years’ work by curator Grace Blakeley-Carroll, features works from NLA’s collection and beyond. In the exhibition’s companion book, Story Time Stars, Blakeley-Carroll writes that, ‘regardless of whether we have children in our lives, we were all once young and many of us hold dear the stories of our childhood’.

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In Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines, the National Gallery of Victoria presents a double portrait of the late, iconic, New York-based artists Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–88) and Keith Haring (1958–90), becoming the first public museum to place their careers in direct dialogue. The retrospective presents many of both artists’ signature works. The vibrant juxtaposition creates a narrative of two ambitious rebels as rising stars in 1980s New York as well as a compelling snapshot of the heyday of the city’s bohemian Lower East Side.

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Manet and Modern Beauty

Patrick McCaughey
23 September 2019

Five years ago, the J. Paul Getty Museum acquired Édouard Manet’s Jeanne (Spring), 1882, for US$61 million – a record for the artist. It was a bold acquisition, for later Manet – he died in 1883 – has never enjoyed the critical esteem of the earlier. Absurdly so, if you recall that the incomparable Bar at the Folies Bergère ...

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Civilization: The Way We Live Now

Alison Stieven-Taylor
16 September 2019

In the age of the image, photography being omnipresent, what can pictures tell us about ourselves as individuals and about the human race? What does an image of the constructed world reveal about our relationship to one another? Does our pursuit of tomorrow render the present expendable ...

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