Archive for August, 2010

Photograph made by Bruno Benini

Photograph made by Bruno Benini

Do you need to be special to understand Art?

Do you need to have sophisticated knowledge in this area?

My answer is NO.

You can appreciate art if it evokes emotions in you, if you feel communication between you and the art. And I do strongly believe that this emotional approach of understanding is one hundred times better than any academic approach where you consider the technique, components, etc. Because personal experience worth as much as an academic degree.

People tend to censor their thoughts and ideas about art. They feel not educated enough to be able to actually talk about it.

This process takes its origins from the art being originally an “upper class activity”, currently, it still has this notion of elitism. Moreover, the art circle is so tight that even for those who have an art degree or experience it is inconceivably difficult to cut their way into this elite community.

Art tends to be for a specific group of people.

Some people create, selected critique.

Critique usually comes in a form which from a very beginning underlines that the author had a proper art education, since the critique is heavy on terminology and “high” concepts. It does not allow general audience, who might be scared away by this sophisticated writing, to engage with the art and to understand that art is for everybody.

Would you mind if I make a parallel between art and religion?

The art is like a God. And an art critic is like a priest. Not necessary do people need to go to the priest to talk to the God, so why do we need to go the art critic to talk to the art? Critics interpret art to the audience. But why don’t we interpret it by ourselves?

Actually, in the process of creating the critique, critics dismantle the art and it becomes unrecognizable. Let’s draw an analogy with a puzzle. By analyzing, critics are pulling the pieces of the puzzle apart, and then the whole picture does not make sense. But when everything is together, you are able to appreciate and to respond.

To be clear, I am not against critics, I just think that critique should be some kind of an additional literature, not the main source of knowledge. People should not be afraid to go to the art exhibition, at the same time, they should not hesitate to express their opinions. Who cares if a critic said this painting is a disaster, if another person looking at it started crying, emotionally responding. In my opinion, first of all, art should seek response, it should resonate.

This is why, being not a photographer, I went to the photography exhibition. And now I am going to talk about it.

The exhibition called Creating the look: Benini and fashion photography is held at Powerhouse museum until 18 April 2011.

I have found out for myself that Powerhouse museum is a real treasure chest when it comes to any sort of art. It has such a big variety of works that a week might not be enough to have a really close look at everything that is on at the moment.

Creating the look: Benini and fashion photography presents photographs from a different period of Benin’s life alongside with some works of contemporary photographers, influenced by his talent and style.

Success of Bruno Benini proves that behind every talented man there is a talented woman. In Benini’s case this was his wife stylist Hazel Benini. Together they have produced some of the most remarkable fashion images in the history of Australia.

So being not a professional photographer, hardly can I assess this exhibition form a deep perspective, however, I can say that I did enjoy it. I would describe photos I saw there as glossy, glamorous, stylish and extremely elegant. They were different to any fashion photography you see today.

Photograph made by Bruno Benini

Photograph made by Bruno Benini

The photos were sophisticated.

Full stop, I said my opinion on the art form about which I know nothing. Now it is your turn to experience the exhibition and to make a comment on this post.

Or are you afraid to make a comment…

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Being an Australian on a rainy day sucks. Having electric-blue skies and a spectacularly radiant sun almost all year round, you most certainly don’t expect a rainy day nor are you really ever ready for it. It ruins plans, moods and newly straightened hair.

My rosy trip to the indoor exhibitions at the Australian Centre for Photography was the perfect pick-me-up for such a wet and dreary day!

With everyone owning an SLR and an opportunity to get photos ‘out there’ on platforms like Flickr seeing Australian-born Robyn Beeche’s exhibition London Calling introduced a new style of photography to me which was a breathe of fresh air!

With a unique fusion of unorthodox uses of makeup as art and ordinary human faces as canvases, Beeche has captured the 70’s/80’s era with élan.

This collection of photographs truly showed the breadth of Beeche’s talent. I couldn’t help noticing a David Bowie vein in the makeup. The most mesmerising aspect of it all was the artistry in the makeup, which, veered on optical illusions!

Scarlett 3 Faces by Robyn Beeche

Along with the two-dozen photographs there was an über-quirky video of Beeche talking about her art. Something that stuck with me was one’s sartorial choice was once a form of expression, a way of rejecting the orthodox, the social norms of the day by creating your own identity in dressing up but nowadays, that has eroded with everyone replicating the norms and easily yielding to conformity. That made me really think more about how I visually and sartorially represent myself…

dressing up was a way of transgressing boundaries and declaring an individual identity. Beeche’s documentation of this period was as political as it was personal. Her images celebrated difference and diversity long before issues of gender, sexuality and identity gained mainstream acceptance

Have you ever thought of makeup and fashion as strong way of expressing yourself and creating a particular identity?

Do you conform to mainstream fashion or do you flout it and dress differently?

The exhibition will be running until the 28 August. Everyone must go see it!

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I ran across this question recently and when I couldn’t come up with an immediate response, I jumped onto the internet to explore it.  There is much written about the definition of art and what art means from the point of view of art historians, art educators and established artists and indeed I found a whole lot of interesting commentary from this perspective.

But I persevered, hoping to find a broader collection of ideas from the sort of “un-establishment”. I wanted to hear what everyday peopIe had to say because I’ve heard some of the most profound observations from the most unexpected sources…..like my 5 year old neighbor who reminded me that “Art is heart. Get it?”.  Out of the mouths of babes……

And then I ran across a project sponsored by the Australia Council for the Arts called “What Makes Me”.  Via their website, they are inviting everyone to create a cube of images, audio or video to express what art means to them. You’re in for a real treat….get to know some great Australians and get a glimpse into how they see art in their lives.

What Makes Me Website

Here are some of the beautiful people I met there:

Gillian who reminded me that art is magical and introduced me to a whole different concept of pole dancing (and its not what you’re thinking)!

Jenny who showed me the playful side of art and how its part of her everyday life…as it would be if you lived just over the road from a circus performer!

Snowy, a music lover (with a great nickname) who talks about the the lyrics of The Doors. Some nostalgia and good memories there!

And finally Kylie, as in Kylie Kwong, who mesmerised me with the way she drew parallels between her love of food and her love of modern dance through the lens of Zen masters. Food for the soul…..

“What Makes Me” just confirms for me that art really is for everyone and there are places where artists and non-artists can come together to talk about their experiences with it. I loved being in that space today. For me, art is like love: multidimensional, provocative, heartbreaking, electrifying, inspiring….but most importantly, something we all share.

So…..what does art mean to you?

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We have already reviewed few well-known and established artists but this time I am going to talk about those who are just in the begging in of their designer path or are not familiar to a broad audience.

Powerhouse museum has appeared to be a perfect place for my plan. Currently, from 13th of August till the 15th of August the museum hosts the young blood designers market. Anyone can visit young blood designers market for a small fee of $5.

Young Blood Designers Market

Young Blood Designers Market

Mainly you will be able to see works by Australian designers, however, there will be some international artists from Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Brazil. One of the most exciting aspects of this market is that you are actually able to buy their hand-made products for a reasonable price. The range of products is unbelievably diverse: fashion, furniture, jewellery, graphics, industrial design, etc.

Young Blood Designers Market

Young Blood Designers Market


Young Blood Designers Market

Young Blood Designers Market


Young Blood Designers Market

Young Blood Designers Market

The market has been held in the museum since 2005 and helped many emerging artists to develop their products, sell them, and find like-minded people or maybe even investors.

I had a chance to experience this market on Friday 13th. But this mystical date under no circumstances influenced my journey through the market. Nevertheless, I can say that some people appeared quite mysterious to me. It was very unusual to be in the museum but at the same time have an opportunity to touch things on display or to make pictures. In my opinion, it is a bit unusual place for a market which in my mind associates with flooding crowds of arguing and screaming people. On the contrary, this market looked civilized.

Each designer had his own stand that was decorated in a special manner. Does not matter if you like the products or not, it is interesting just to enter a little world of every person, see how an artist can think of his own work, understand what is his aim or what messages he is trying to deliver to the audience.

Young Blood Designers Market

Young Blood Designers Market

Young Blood Designers Market

Young Blood Designers Market


And at this market, art is for everybody and designers are standing within your touch. So don’t miss your chance and touch… their artistic products.

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While the definition of art hasn’t always been clear, we have always had a pretty clear sense of the role of the artist and the role of the audience in art.  The artist created the art and the audience played a voyeuristic and responsive role.

Performance art pioneers like Marina Abromovic have been challenging the boundaries between artists and audiences and the definition of art and art practice simply by creating a real time connection between the artist and the audience.

The space created by this connection offers us a glimpse into a new dimension in art experience with a growing loyal following.  The experience is more like a journey, revealing a compelling invitation to explore our individual and collective social consciousness in the “spaces in between” (in between our fast paced, ordered modern existence and an uncertain dimension of possibility).  It challenges us to be open to whatever presents itself and to abandon expectations.  Time and space become fluid.

The overwhelming response to Marina Abromovic’s recent performance at MoMA, The Artist is Present, is a testament to the evolving state of this art form and the unexpected outcomes for both the artist and the audience.  The intimate nature of such performances is a catalyst to co-create a unique experience in our lives: to slow down, be in the moment, and look through different eyes…..making new things familiar and familiar things new (as Samual Johnson says).

Here in Australia, Anastasia Klose, has been performing at the Australian Experimental Art Foundation (AEAF), in a work partly inspired by Maria Abromovic’s recent work at MoMA.  In an intimate setting, sitting in her bed, she allows us to read her thoughts on-screen as she sits in bed and types them, responding to her surroundings, her audience and her experience. (Photos by Teri Hoskin courtesy of the AEAF website).

I’ve been to performances like this and initially, I found it challenging to stay in these intimate spaces with a stranger on unfamiliar social ground for long.  Other times I found myself distracted by life outside the space or unable to appreciate the subtlety of the experience. But I have to say that it has become one of my favourite art forms: a place where we can explore infinite possibility by connecting with each other in new and unexpected ways.

So what do you think about this kind of art form? Love it or leave it?

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I wanted to visit Biennale on Cockatoo Island one last time before it ended on 31st Saturday. So I travelled into the city on bright and sunny 27th Tuesday afternoon. After a long trek I ended up at my penultimate stop Circular Quay where I would catch a free ferry over to the Island. But of course I missed it by just five minutes! And the next one was not scheduled to arrive until the next hour, naturally my luck!

So to make use of my sudden abundance of time I thought I would visit the Museum of Contemporary Art. Having viewed art in such spacious surrounds on the Island the MCA seemed much more confined, claustrophobic and artificial which made me feel uncomfortable making the whole experience less enjoyable. However something that really resonated with the venues mood was the Bonsai series fashioned by Beijing artist Shen Shaomin.

It was an eerie and unusual series of bonsai trees that had grown larger than usual bonsai sizes but were also constricted into extremely contorted and deformed configurations, which were controlled by various mechanical and metallic contraptions.

Shen Shaomin, Bonsai No.7, 2007, plant, iron tools

Bonsai No.7 (2007) by Shen Shaomin - Courtesy the artist and Osage Gallery

My initial reaction was deep anguish and sympathy for the bonsai trees’. I began to think how could I feel sorry for trees? Of course there is the environmental aspect that humans are a real detriment to nature but I felt that these trees could also represent other living and breathing organism such as humans ourselves. It was at this point where I could even empathise with the torturous pain the bonsai trees had been through to look so deformed.

As explained by one by the Biennale website

Simply and powerfully, these works address the artificial and sometimes painful aspects of beauty and control in society – allegorically exposing deeply rooted systems of thought formed by tradition and culture. In doing this, Shen implicates us as part of the system that allows such control to endure.

I think that Shaomin’s allegoric work which evokes such deep human emotions and reflections of our changing society is art of high calibre

What do you think?

How did you feel when you observed the Bonsai series?

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I was always interested in Tim Burton’s art and his way of perception which deeply resonates with my inner world. So can you imagine my excitement when I received an opportunity to go to Melbourne and visit Burton’s exhibition at acmi.

Tim Burton's exhibition in Melbourne

Tim Burton's exhibition in Melbourne

I heard about this event a couple of months ago and was secretly dreaming about this opportunity with no hope for my dream to come true. But thanks to my friend’s efforts we made it and came for a short trip to Melbourne. This is how our journey began. Honestly, I was expecting something fantastic and overwhelming but this exhibition surpassed all expectations, it was just unbelievably good. And I do not exaggerate.

the entrance to acmi

the entrance to acmi

The exhibition at acmi presents Burton’s drawings, photographs, movies, puppets, models, poetry and sketches stretching back to his childhood. It provides access to personal and mysterious world of the auteur. Literally, his brain is on display.

Batman car

Batman car

Before the entrance to the actual exhibition visitors are able to have a look at some of Burton’s photographs, paintings, models and a Batman car from the movie (you don’t need to pay to see these exhibits).

Photographs made by Tim Burton

Photographs made by Tim Burton

I guess, all these things can be seen for free in order to generate a bigger interest and make passers-by pass into the paid Burton’s section. In the photographs you can find characters from the Nightmare before Christmas, ex-girlfriend Lisa Marie and quirky objects.

I was personally fascinated by a photograph Untitled (Blue girl with Scull). It is at the same time engaging and confronting. I am amazed by the whole idea and the way it is presented, however, the baby with needles in his body is too much for me. This little part of the gallery already establishes a certain image of the “Burtonesque” style – quirky, dark and gothic.

Untitled (Blue Girl with Skull)

Untitled (Blue Girl with Skull)

The Batman car is situated just near the entrance to the main Burton gallery. Although, most people were impressed by the car (to me it reminded a huge and black animal), I was attracted to the window behind the car. It is so unusual. Made in a drop shape and surrounded by hypnotic circles it makes you stare at it for ages. I have received an impression that I am standing here, in Tim Burton’s head and see the “real” world through his eyes.

Window designed in the "Burtonesque" style

Window designed in the "Burtonesque" style

Finally, we have decided to move to the main gallery. The entrance is decorated in a form of a giant mouth and reminds of an entrance into Luna Park.

Entrance to the gallery

Entrance to the gallery

Inside visitors can see nearly everything from Burton’s art concerning all his movies. The exhibition begins with his early ages spent in Burbank and ends with a brand new movie Alice in Wonderland. The difference between the real world full of sunshine and more pale colours hugely contrast with the one created by acmi to present Burton’s art. Inside, there is a special lightening; it is darks but still enough for you to clearly see all his artworks. The wall are mostly purple and black, however, some other colors are used as well. Everything is written in a “Burtonesque” style font. The designers of the gallery heavily used Burton’s favorite “things”, such as black and white tiles, spirals, and quirky special trees. Watch out, decorations and artworks can be at any place: beneath your legs or in front of your eyes. All in all, Burton’s art is divided into the periods of his life and movies he filmed in a chronological order.

Inside Tim Burton's exhibition

Inside Tim Burton's exhibition

Critics say “Dark world of Tim Burton” but if you look closer it is not dark, there is so much colour in it. For example, it is shocking how many colours of black or grey you see. Even simple black in his vision is not simple black but something exciting. Interestingly, Burton’s style approaches all audiences and, as a consequence, at the exhibition you can meet people of all ages, from toddlers to elders in their mid 80s. It is so much fun for everyone. After visiting the exhibition I was overwhelmed with the emotions and felt like doing and creating, and my friends have experienced similar emotions.

Burton’s art is interactive. It is the art for everybody without any elitism. There is no wall between you and the artist; you are literally on the same ground. With not a hint of a snobbery, Burton welcomes everyone into his magical world.
Honestly, it is impossible to describe everything you see there in one article, even one book is not enough, I guess. So the best way to try his art is just to go and try it by yourself. The tickets cost within 20 dollars, basically the price for hours of entertainment, art and wonderland is the same as for one Burton’s movie screened at the cinemas. Moreover, the exhibition will be held till the 10th October, 2010 so you have time.
Do you still doubt whether to go or not? Well, if you appreciate creative mind, you will definitely appreciate this exhibition.

Tim Burton

Tim Burton

Finally, I want to ask a question: “What would you give to have a cup of coffee with Tim Burton?”

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