Sunday, March 25, 2007


Notice - Forest (detail) 2005
Collection: Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo
Two weeks ago I had a flying visit north to Brisbane, land of wooden houses and warm breezes. We got a couple of sweltering days and balmy nights to bring back in our memories as we are now being hit by the first cool winds heralding winter. After we returned we got the first of what I've always called the snow winds. Biting southerlies with an icy edge are for me the one true sign that winter is really comming (mind you it's coming nice and slow and should stay that way as long as possible...).

To hang on to the warmth in my mind a little longer I'm going to muse on my visit to the APT (Asia Pacific Triennial) and my first visit to GoMA. Brisbane's new Gallery of Modern Art.

Overall I enjoyed the exhibition - it felt consistently strong, nicely installed and resolved, maybe a bit too nice - there were some politically quite confronting works, but somehow the gallery just makes everything so clean. The GoMA has beautiful big exhibition spaces, but the entrance is not great, and some of the workmanship on the actual building looks a bit shoddy. Their installation of indigenous work was absolutely stunning.

So the entrance - you go through these sliding glass doors that act as a kind of air lock into an entrance way with very high ceilings and a feeling that you're sure exactly where to go to find the art. Once inside I discover an arctic breeze that encourages me to remain in the actual gallery looking at the art for the shortest possible time before scurrying outside to prevent the onset of hypothermia. It seriously was that cold - I had been at the Queensland Art Gallery earlier and it was noticably warmer, even then I was wearing long sleeves.

The shoddyness - we were looking at these grey panels in the doorways between the galleries and noticed the some were quite dented and were not level at the bottom - picky I know but who ever screwed in those panels either used too much force or the material is too soft for it's chosen purpose. The highlight of the APT at GoMA for me was the Anish Kapoor installation - really gorgeous, though apparently a problem for the gallery with visitors accidentally walking into a few of the works. Quite difficult to control as there are some children's activities that actively invite physical interaction and Kapoor's work does mess with perception and can be quite disorienting. The education/kids stuff was fantastic as always - QAG really knows how to do this stuff well, they create really intelligent and engaging activities that provide insight into the works and give audiences something to create and do as well.

I could go on at length about the works in the show across the two venues but I need to go to bed so my highlights were:

Yuken Teruya - images can be seen here, here and here - these paper works were delicate, witty and thoroughly engaging. It's great to see a simple concept handled so skillfully and in this day or high tech multimedia everything to be engaged by art made entirely from paper bags.

Sangeeta Sandrasegar - images here and here - these were also paper based works - cutouts of incredible detail, my favourite was a wall installtion of white hands. The paper was so fine and delicate that at first I saw only the shadows made from the silhouettes of the paper hands pinned just off the wall.

Nursa Latif Qureshi - Indian miniatures with a subversive contemporary edge - images here, here and here

There was so much wonderful work in this show I could go on all night - but I won't so all I can say is that if you can get to Brisbane before May and see it for yourself - go!

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