Sydney Moderns - Art For A New World 6th July - 7th October 2013

Yesterday was an artist date scheduled in the diary to go visit the Art Gallery of NSW to see the curated exhibition titled 'Sydney Moderns'. I travelled by train to the city thinking how un-modern and antiquated Cityrail's 'rattlers' are. It got me to the city though (and a big thank you to Gordon for lending me his noise-cancelling headphones). 

The exhibition has been curated into various themes such as; 'Colour & Light', Colour & Music' & 'Still Life' etc. Having the luxury of several hours and a day to myself, I took my time in the space; exiting & reentering the show whenever a rambunctious throng of school children bustled through with their clipboards & worrisome teacher. 

There is a lot of artwork to digest in this show, but none which cannot be managed in a single bite. The colourful works of Roland Wakelin & Roy de Maistre are excellent examples of the modern aesthetic between the wars, capturing their interest in the relationship between 'colour & music' and 'colour & light'. Grace Cossington Smith's industrial depictions of the Harbour Bridge mid construction emphasised the rhythms of the modern age; a city in change, surging toward one of the most urbanised nations of the time.

Painting was not all about the changing face of a city however, artists such as Margaret Preston devoted many a canvas to the genre of Still Life. On the matter, she says- 

Why there are so many tables of still life in modern paintings is because they are really laboratory tables on which aesthetic problems can be isolated.
— AGNSW Exhibition pamphlet

Mmmmm Bacon

Maxx & I went to view the Francis Bacon 'Five Decades' exhibition yesterday at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. If I wasn't already feeling unhinged before I walked amongst the grotesque paintings, I certainly was afterward. Whether the distorted figures, mouths agape screaming rustled the nerves of many a viewer like myself, I don't know. Perhaps they dredged up fleeting memories of horror movies I've seen over the years; like the frothing sinister head of Jack Nicholson peering through an axed doorway in 'The Shining' or the chained and detained figures of the 'Saw' movie franchise.
I gotta stop watching horror films! The portraits Bacon executed (mostly of his lovers), must have been unflattering to the sitter but could be pardoned in their deeply complex emotional states which saw the artist's fame rise over several decades.
'Francis Bacon is a towering figure of 20th-century art. His paintings are gutsy, controversial and unforgettable. With painful beauty Bacon lays bare the struggles of the human condition.'

Earlier in the day when we had only just arrived at the gallery, we ran into a friend who works with the staff on reception; Chris informed us that moments before we arrived, a tourist in a group had sat on an art installation in the Australian art galleries section for a photo opportunity and the entire sculpture collapsed! I just hope the Gallery posts the CCTV footage on Youtube for us all to laugh at.