Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Arkley in Brissy

Last week I returned from spending a week working in Mackay via Brisbane.

Ahhh Queensland, warm and sunny one day ... warm and sunny the next.

Apparently it had been raining practically non stop in Mackay for a couple of months so my timing was perfect - I had a week of warm sunny days.

While in Brissy I caught the river cat from New Farm up to South bank and popped in on GOMA for a quick visit. I caught the positively fiendish Katharina Grosse installation and the Howard Arkley show on tour from the NGV.

Grosse has built a fantastic landscape in the long narrow central axis of GOMA complete with sand banks, large canvases jutting out and big weather balloons suspended from the walls like some sort of massive multicoloured sea creatures. They are all painted with this mad abstract expressive assault of colour. It's fun, wacky and the scale is appropriate for the space, which I imagine would be a difficult space for many artists to work in, given its height and length.

I also particularly enjoyed the Arkley show at GOMA. I didn't get to see it in Melbourne, but I have often been frustrated by the architecture inside the NGVs Ian Potter Centre so I wonder how it worked there. Anyway it looked great in the big white barn of a space that is GOMA. You could get far enough away from the works to look at a whole series of large paintings at once, and there was plenty of white space to rest hurty eyes after staring at oppy dots and patterns. I particularly liked the Arkley and Davila collaboration pieces – really nice weird awkward works with so much going on in them, I could look at ‘em for ages and keep finding new elements.

I found this lovely interview with Arkely and Davila where they talked about their collaborative process:

Juan Davila: I see our collaboration as a wonderful travesty. Howard might not see it in these terms, but we are two transvestite painters, or camp decorators, who have no sense of taste, and we produced an intentionally bastard result. It has the appearance of a proper painting but as you come near the whole thing blurs, like make-up on a transvestite. We talked about being two prostitutes who would offer to decorate anything.

Howard Arkley: The paintings went back and forth between our studios in Prahran. There would be one of us at each end of a canvas, carrying it through the streets. On a windy day it was like riding a sail board down the street. You'd have to swing out into the traffic and the cars had to stop while we were twisting and turning the canvas, being dragged along like it was a big kite. It was very much a part of Chapel Street. We used to talk about the work and walk up and down the street window shopping, saying "look at this, look at that, let's put it in the painting". I would fling open the door of a place like a building society, drag Juan in, just stand there giggling at the carpet and then race out. There was a lot of energy.

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