I had to laugh last night watching the weather report on tv in Sydney - the temperature was going down to a freezing 10 degree minimum over night, while in Canberra it go up to a toasty maximum of - yep - 10 degrees. While it was crisp and windy by Sydney standards, it was still a relief to get away from home and into less icy surrounds. The reason we were there was to farewell an excellent friend who is off to Cambodia to work for a couple of years and catch a bit of contemporary art. I'm already scheming to work out a way to get to Cambodia for a visit some time in the next twelve months.
While in Sydney I popped in to the Art Gallery of NSW and spent a bit of time with the Anselm Kiefer show, and the Ishiuchi Miyako show. I've loved Kiefer's work for years - he's one of my favourite artists of all time - I'm familiar with his objects - but this show also features massive paintings. What I enjoyed about the large paintings in the show was this incredible sense of three-dimensionality and space from a distance - and then up close they become these amazing textural abstracts with big chunks of cracking paint and unexpected objects mired in the surface.
One of my favourite aspects of the show was the video footage showing Kiefer's studio complex in Barjac in France - he has a property containing a number of great old stone buildings, tunnels with works scattered throughout the environment - what I wouldn't give for my own personal art world!
Miyako's work was a kind of portrait in absence of her dead mother. The show contained black and white photographic images of her mother's underwear which had a kind of medical, almost xray feel to them and yet were simultaneously very intimate. These were accompanied by photographs of other ordinary intimate objects - used lipstick, a hairbrush. I particularly enjoyed the quiet and poetic feel to this installation - and knowing that the subject of the work was dead gave me that sense almost of intruding on some one's private space.