So we visit the Bendigo Gallery again. Ben Quilty of course but much pleasure, as always, from the permanent collection. Len French's Journey of the Sun mural (ex State Bank in the City), the Brett Whiteleys (especially that dot of a child in the washbowl, Arkie, its poignancy undeflected by cheeky dadaist plug on chain hanging from the canvas)…
The 2014 Paul Guest Prize for drawing had a few works to satisfy my evidently conservative taste given incredulity at Heather Swann's winning 'You Are a Balloon' adjudged by Ian Potter's Kelly Gellatly to have "creat[ed] both a space & mood that continues to sustain the viewer" (NOT); for example Debra Goldsmith's 'Barry Tuckwell at home in Taradale', Pei Pei He's 'Life on Flinders', Adriane Strampp's 'Echo', Jeff Makin's 'Storm over Govetts Leap', Bruno Leti's 'These Trees (Lake Mokoan)', Simon Finn's 'Collision'… Ah well, prizewinners neither here nor there for aesthetes; first & last it's the work & the worlds thus made intersecting with one's own.
Beautiful things in the dedicated ceramics section, the Rod Fyffe collection, including old favourites Victor Greenaway, Shiga Shigeo, Peter Rushforth, Owen Rye...
Ben Quilty, how & what to say? There's an irritation to deal with but don't want it to dominate. Unless it does, is the entire point of it? Reading curator's note for (the centre-piece?) 'Evening Shadows, Rorshack After Johnstone', settle on "artist interrogates colonialism" et cetera, and an almost overwhelming fatigue sets in! Suffer this allergy for many years now, yet necessarily risk its debilitation for certain insight. Most copied Australian painting, three Aboriginal men on bank of Murray river, one with a blanket (colonisers' gift, nudge nudge)… : an historical document therefore, the history for the political consciousness still in the making, the history reverberating, ever ready for the taking. Joke/quip rising in me : would that one could reverse Marcel Duchamp's assertion, "no longer will they be able to say 'as stupid as a painter'". That is, theoretical flags OK as captions, but captaining the ship, the whole bloody fleet? Hmm.
Quilty is surely one of the generations of Van Gogh's wild children : he's a painter whose impasto is matter enough to maul the popinjay academic mind, thinking & feeling with paint : paint, paint, paint… Is the 'political' similar popinjay swank? God how I long for the stupidity (contra Duchamp) of the magical materials per se… yes, "Whatever you have to say, leave / The roots on, let them / Dangle // And the dirt // Just to make clear / Where they come from" (per Charles Olson). Innocence as the unconstrained (by would-be sophistication including every pc regimen); innocence as stupid vitality, sheer stupid ability…
Quilty's gift is to impose the pleasure as part of the question; that is, he makes the utmost of his means, accepts metaphor for the manna it is. Leaves me with the problem! As should be the case. The Rorshack mirror… more to eye than meets the binary… and that's it, perhaps, --it's the binary (false or not) which bugs me, especially in "art" which doesn't, of course, deal with my misgivings regarding 'the political'… Blinded by brilliance, blinking within the double bind!
En Route Melbourne
Old train, front carriages reserved, ex- Echuca, Ararat? --I'd found a seat, threw down bag, but then p.a. directed Bendigo passengers move to the back unreserved carriages --Happily & amusingly find the latter are high class V-Line air-con, whereas the first were dusty, cramped "red rattler" variety! --Here I be then, in my compleat comfort heading through the railway's granite & clay canyon beneath the pale & vast blue sky, through forest the peopled plain hasnt yet gobbled...
Out of Castlemaine, parallel old road, bleached grasslands, patrolled by solitary cattle, dotted with small farms, last legs sheds & homesteads. In my mind D H Lawrence's perception from Kangaroo of the flimsiness of the entire idea of settlement, doubting the efficacy of a European transposition especially as its suburban English form, --as haunting as the scene from the carriage window. "As though the next gust of wind might blow everything away..." How does it go? Look it up : reading as ever the other dimension of Journey...
Cant find it! Two days, four times speed reading front to back my 394 page Penguin paperback, once in reverse. As though I dreamed it...
(7/9 January, '15)
Sunday, January 18, 2015
A BENDIGO VISIT
Posted by collectedworks at 7:23 PM 2 comments:
Labels: Ben Quilty, Bendigo, Brett Whiteley, D H Lawrence, Len French, Marcel Duchamp, Olson, Van Gogh
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