Category Archives: gallery exhibition

Bill Viola

Although the Adelaide Festival of Arts is coming to a close, the highlight of the visual art programme was definitely the works of Bill Viola.  Never before has a collection of Viola’s work been experienced on such a scale in Australia.  A master of the video art medium, his work is dramatic and thought-provoking.  The Artistic Director of the Festival David Sefton sums up Viola’s work;

“Viola’s work ranges from the intimate to the epic while always retaining elements of deep spirituality and thoughtfulness; poignant, often moving and always evocative.  Viola is without doubt one of the artists responsible for video art being considered an art form worthy of proper attention…”

7 large-scale works were installed over 3 venues – The Art Gallery of South Australia, St Peter’s Cathedral and Queen’s Theatre.  Many of these works have never been seen before in Australia and were drawn from his extensive collection of works from 1996 – 2012.  I had the privilege of attending a forum with Bill Viola and Kira Perov in which he discussed his art practice and the concepts behind many of his works.

Fire Woman 2005, Colour High-Definition video projection

Fire Woman 2005 (still sequence), Colour High-Definition video projection, 4 channel sound (4.1), 11:12 mins

The above images were taken from Fire Woman which depicts the silhouette of a female figure standing before a wall of flames. After a few moments, she steps forward, opens her arms and falls into her own reflection…

When the flames of passion and fever finally engulf the inner eye, and the realisation that desire’s body will never again be met blinds the seer, the reflecting surface is shattered and collapses into its essential form – undulating wave patterns of pure light…

– as printed in the exhibition catalogue

The above work in addition to Tristan’s Ascension were exhibited in the old Queen’s Theatre, a fantastic venue that provided an encapsulating audience experience.

Tristan's Ascension 2005, Colour High-Definition video projection, 4 channel sound (4.1), 10:16 mins

Tristan’s Ascension 2005, Colour High-Definition video projection, 4 channel sound (4.1), 10:16 mins

Tristan’s Ascension describes the ascent of the soul in the space after death as it is awakened and drawn up in a backwards flowing waterfall.  Both of these works are only on display until 10pm tomorrow 15th March.  There are another 4 works being exhibited at the Art Gallery of South Australia until Sun 29th March.  More information on the works of Bill Viola can be found at his official website


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Contemporary Chinese Photography – Chen Zhuo & Huang Keyi

Last year the White Rabbit Gallery exhibited a selection of Contemporary Chinese Art at the Samstag Museum in Adelaide.  The White Rabbit Contemporary Chinese Art Collection is one of the world’s largest and most significant collections of contemporary Chinese art.  Founded by Kerr and Judith Neilson, it focuses on works produced after 2000.

Apart from installation, painting and sculpture I was drawn to the photographic work of Chen Zhuo and Huang Keyi.  Based in Beijing, they find digital photography and Photoshop the perfect marriage of media for their exuberant view of the new China.  Taking up to a month to complete each picture, they integrate real and virtual images, duplicating here and erasing there. In the process, they say, “some of our works have become more real than reality, while others convert reality into fiction.”

The China Carnival series (2007) portrays the country as a frenzied fun park where Chairman Mao gives his blessing to roller-coaster riders, romantic love merges happily with shopping, and the sky is too blue to be true. But there’s a grim subtext to these pictures, seen in the identical faces and robotic poses of the crowds, and in the red balloons that resemble spatters of blood. Other photos in the series (which includes a short video) show black limousines surrounded by dead female bodies, and a missile silo in which a line of saluting soldiers recreates a multi-armed kuanyin goddess.

China Carnival No.1, Tiananmen, 2007

China Carnival No.2, Wedding, 2007

Exhibited as c-prints 1.2 x 1.8m they draw the viewer in to consider the detail in each work.  Although there are only 2 of the artist’s work in this collection, more of their work can be viewed from the Yang Gallery site here.

Artist info and images courtesy of the White Rabbit Gallery. Additional information and viewing of the complete collection can be viewed here.

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British Art Now – Saatchi Gallery

Apologies for the lack of posts lately…life has been hectic. I have however, been lucky enough to squeeze in visits to a few fantastic exhibitions.  Currently the Art Gallery of South Australia is exhibiting a selection of work from the famous Saatchi Gallery in London.  I must say, Mr Charles Saatchi has very eclectic taste.  I can appreciate most conceptual art but some of the work selected even gets me scratching my head.

However, instead of going on about the work I didn’t enjoy…let me show you the work I was drawn towards and surprisingly, it wasn’t all photography either.

Barry Reigate

Reigate’s series of fluorescent light sculptures were conceived as one-of-a-kind art and design originals, functional furniture catering to connoisseurs of unmitigated indulgence. The lamps are ostentatious pastiches of bad taste, pierced through (literally) with the pretentiousness of minimalist design.

The figures in this series are made from Jesmonite which is used in film sets and models.  Reigate uses this material as an association between classical plaster sculpture and popular culture.  He applies the material thickly and then just lets gravity take its course, so that there is this historical reference to Modernist painting.

I was drawn to these figures for their supposed slap-together kitschiness and their anti-pop culture stance.  It’s almost like a ‘middle finger’ to Disney Corp.

Anne Hardy

Anne Hardy’s photographs picture depopulated rooms that suggest surreal fictions. Working in her studio, Hardy builds each of her sets entirely from scratch; a labour-intensive process of constructing an empty room, then developing its interior down to the most minute detail.  Her process is an organic one – often starting with the objects first, then constructing the rooms in which to place them.

Hardy’s image Cell (above) reminds me Jeff Wall’s The Invisible Man…perhaps she is influenced by his work or it could just be a coincidence.

Standing in front of her large photographic works, you find yourself being drawn into her images – to decifer all their details and come up with a narrative.  Hardy’s images withhold the actual experience of her environments, allowing our relationship with them to be in our imagination.

Toby Ziegler

Ziegler’s creative process begins by removing the ‘hand of the artist’ and developing his image and sculptural models on the computer.  He then painstakingly re-applies traces of artistic intervention by rendering these digitised models entirely by hand.

In Designated for Leisure, the image is composed on reflective industrial fabric – the painting’s surface shifts and transforms when viewed from different angles, revealing the landscape within as a chimera of light and perspective.  I was first drawn to this painting for its sheer size but as you get closer, its reflectiveness gives the impression of a landscape from a different dimension – one that is broken down into its basic shapes and forms.

Inspired by a set Victorian Staffordshire figurines, The Liberals is made from intersecting cardboard panels.  The scale of monumentality is at odds with the use of its humble material and the roughly painted panels.  Perhaps this contradiction reflects how the figurines, originally associated with value and prestige are now symbolic of kitsch within popular culture.

The exhibition concludes on the 23rd October so if you haven’t had the chance to visit and you are in Australia, it’s definitely worth the admission fee.

Images and artist info via Saatchi Gallery.  Info about the exhibition can be found via The Art Gallery of South Australia site here.

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Patricia Piccinini

Patricia Piccinini is a contemporary Australian artist who is known for her elaborate sculptures and installations that deal with ideas revolving around genetic mapping & manipulation, body imaging technologies and media culture.  Currently, her retrospective is being shown at the Art Gallery of South Australia and consists of her entire oeuvre to date.  I was lucky enough to visit the exhibition recently which took up the entire lower floor exhibition space.

Alongside her anthropomorphic machines and hybrid creatures, I was particularly drawn to an installation called Sandman.  Using video, photographic imagery and sculpture Piccinini transports us through the mysteries of human evolution, teenage angst and the ‘car culture’ of 1970’s Australia.

Although I’m familiar with Piccinini’s work, it was great seeing all her work in one venue.  If you get a chance, get along to the Art Gallery of SA and take a look.  The exhibition concludes on the 26th June.

More information about the exhibition can be found here.  Details about Sandman or any other work by the artist can be found at her site here.



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Michael Riley

The late Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Michael Riley is one of the most important Indigenous artists of the past two decades. Over his career he created an impressive body of work ranging from black & white portraiture to film, video and large-scale digital photographs. Throughout, his concern was to celebrate the spirit of his people while also bearing witness to their struggles. He had a deep commitment to the process of reconciliation.

I came across Michael’s work in 2004 during an exhibition at The Flinders University Art Gallery, then again recently while watching a documentary on Aboriginal art.  His photographic work can be seen as autobiographical as they address the parallel meanings associated with Indigenous and Christian beliefs and how Colonisation and the words of the Bible led to the desacralisation of culture within many Aboriginal communites.  Presented as large scale prints, the recurring themes in his work denotes this sense of loss.

The following images are from his Cloud, Sacrifice and Flyblown series’ of images.

more of Michael’s work can be found here.

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Ragnar Schmuck

Berlin based commercial photographer Ragnar Schmuck recently staged an exhibition in collaboration with Groove magazine.  The images show the creative spaces of dance djs and the residences that they inhabit.

More of Ragnar’s work can be found here

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SALA – Trent Parke

It’s that time of the year again when Adelaide comes alive with ART!  The South Australian Living Artists festival is on again and there is so much to see, all over the state…it’s difficult to know where to start!

A must see is the Trent Parke exhibition at The Hugo Michell Gallery on Portrush Rd.  He is one of my favourite Australian photographers and is the first Australian to become a full member of the Magnum Photo Agency.  The exhibition is a retrospective of the last 14 years of his photographic practice and is a must see.  The exhibition runs from the 29th July – 28th August.

images by Trent Parke courtesy of Stills Gallery.

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Filed under colour, festival/exhibition info, gallery exhibition, Photographers, photography