The House Of Dior

Dior, luxurious, timeless, elegant and more than just fashion. This current exhibition served up by National Gallery Of Victoria spans the history of this iconic fashion house from 1947 to 2017. It is a sumptuous affair, and the spectacle is at first spell binding and decedent. The House Of Dior is an exhibition that one should put aside an hour or two to really take in. The perfect excursion for a lazy Sunday afternoon, or take it all in as part of NGV Friday Night’s Up late, either way, this exhibition is a once in a life time experience and should not be missed.

Images by  Timothy Treasure Photography for more info head to the NGV website  

 

Livres D’Artiste

 Art On The Page grants a rare opportunity to view significant works of European and Australian lineage, that more often spend their time hidden amongst the Rare Book Collection housed by  University Of Melbourne. You stumble across the exhibition tucked away in a second floor annex, soft jazz plays in the background, at odds with the frenetic energy of campus just outside. These pieces trace from our European forefathers,  through to artists and illustrators of a contemporary Australian genre. The influence and similarity between past and present provide continuity and a tangible through line.  Curator Susan Millard spoke with TAGG.

Susan introduce us to the exhibition and the idea that led to it’s presentation? 

We have had this collection for more than 20 years and we knew we had to do something with book arts, and it morphed a bit and it also changed. So this exhibition is essentially about book making and about artist, who have used the book form as their medium. We are looking at the 20th century, looking at artists such as Matisse and Picasso a whole lot of those people who were working together and collaborating. It’s about that tradition and then how that has influenced the Australian artists, and how their book works are very influenced by those European artists.

So, where to begin? Is there are a work here you could describe as being the genesis for this exhibition? 

The first thing to talk about is Petr Herel, He’s Czechoslovakian; his work is just really delicate and beautiful. He came out to Australia in about 1973, and then took over the Graphic Investigation Workshop in 1979. He  inspired others through his teaching of all of these book making and print making techniques, and got them all inspired and off they went. This is sort of where it all starts. 

The next sort of big step is the Melbourne scene, and it really mirrors I think I found as I researched, we’ve had for ages, and known about them and talked to them about it for ages. The one thing I found is that they were all of European background and they all know each other and they all sort of collaborate together, and they are not just artists but writers as well.

Let’s also talk about Bruno Leti, who does a lot of work. He does painting, print work a bit of digital photography stuff, and it’s quite stunning.

And what would you put forward as an explanation for the link between these two sets of artists and the European influence we are discussing?

I think its actually because they are European or their background is European, although not entirely. David Fraser does these beautiful woodcuts, and has done some work with Paul Kelly. He’s been doing a lot of that collaboration too. But he I don’t think is European. His work is still beautiful, so he gets the guernsey in terms of the scene.

But Theo Strasser who is Dutch Bruno Leti, George Matoulas. I know from talking to people, that when they go overseas and they go into galleries, these are the people they are looking at.

I like the idea of the artists getting together and collaborating, and thats what they do and that’s where this beautiful work comes from. Because they do all get together and collaborate. But the other side of this exhibition is the Classic and people taken that and responding to it. But the main thing about this whole exhibition is that its abstract. Australia has been hopeless with abstract art. We don’t love it; we are really cringey towards it and I really don’t know why.

Are there any perhaps more unusual works in the exhibition that are of particular interest? 

I don’t know about unusual. I want to talk about Sonia Delaunay. For a start, its a bit of a head call to get woman, but a lot is more of the male thing. Its just extraordinary. She did abstract art but she did fashion. She made things,  she had a boutique and did a lot of fashion stuff but when she did drawing it was really abstract and I just loved it. Her work here is quite late – from around 69. But she did a lot of early work, she was from pre-war England, but she’s Russian and had problems during the war.  

Delaunay and artists like Alberto Agnelli and Sophie Taeuber-Ap – they were all hanging out together in a commune in Southern France during the war. They were very lucky to escape some of them, really. They just did these works together and they are just magnificent. 

Finishing off, what do you think is the greatest power art holds in terms of the global community?

Its about that creativity, and if you don’t have that creativity somewhere you are in trouble. I think that is a problem with the world today. It’s been taken over by the bean counters. A lot of management is determined by the bottom line. Creativity is almost frowned upon now, its a bit depressing. You can imagine a dystopian future where art is completely repressed or banned, and that’s never a good thing for the community. 

Art On The Page is on show at The Noel Shaw Gallery, University of Melbourne now until January 14th, for more info click here

Meet the Artists – St Kilda Art Crawl launch 21 – 24 Sept

Pamella Dias Lotus Arts contributing artist in Fitzroy Street installation as part of the St Kilda Art Crawl

Dino Damiani exhibition in Fitzroy St. precinct as part of the St Kilda Art Crawl

Dino Damiani exhibition in Fitzroy St. precinct as part of the St Kilda Art Crawl

Symmetry’s Shadow Exhibition

Location: Christ Church St Kilda (Anglican), 14 Acland st. St Kilda

Re-inventing LIFE through ART, an ongoing therapy.

Silent intelligence, each soul’s higher self, speaks of a collective, a whole; the human race as one. In our hearts we all know this to be true, one only needs to apply thought. Pressure in the frontal lobe region may follow as a result, tension will subside with gradual use of the minds eye.

If you’re in disagreement I invite you to come along and allow the artists involved to persuade you of another outlook, or more accurately in-look. An in-look which becomes an outlook of the soul. Push the envelope and watch it bend, be like the reed in the wind, the one Confucius spoke of. The Hidden runs our lives, for most of us have no idea of our purpose of existance. Most of us hide behind invisible mask of our choosing.

Man is a walking talking paradox, who’s hypocritical abilities are of legendary status. At this point in humanity’s evolution I believe it is important to pause and take stock of one’s true purpose, lights, gifts and shadows truths. Together they provide the human halone with a third dimensional experience, according to information (thoughts) available.

Seems to me, one’s thoughts and intent should take precedence above all.

by Marko Maglaic – Australian collectable artist

Anthony Breslin contributing painter at Symmetry’s Shadow Exhibition opening on 22 & 23 Sept 2017 sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl

Anthony Breslin contributing painter at Symmetry’s Shadow Exhibition opening on 22 & 23 Sept 2017 sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl
We would like you to meet some of Melbourne’s artistic community that are participating at various installations around the five St Kilda Art Crawl precincts.

Woodman contributing painter at Symmetry's Shadow Exhibition opening on 22 & 23 Sept 2017 sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl

Phil Voodoo Woodman contributing painter at Symmetry’s Shadow Exhibition opening on 22 & 23 Sept 2017 sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl

Jackie Ralph contributing artist at Symmetry's Shadow Exhibition 22, 23 Sept sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl 2017

Jackie Ralph contributing artist at Symmetry’s Shadow Exhibition 22, 23 Sept sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl 2017

Andrew Hustwaite contributing arts at Symmetry's Shadow Exhibition opening on 22 & 23 Sept 2017 sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl

Andrew Hustwaite contributing arts at Symmetry’s Shadow Exhibition opening on 22 & 23 Sept 2017 sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl

Marko Maglaic curator and contributing artits at Symmetry's Shadow Exhibition opening on 22 & 23 Sept 2017 sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl

Marko Maglaic curator and contributing artits at Symmetry’s Shadow Exhibition opening on 22 & 23 Sept 2017 sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl

Cal the Stoner contributing sculpture at Symmetry's Shadow Exhibition opening on 22 & 23 Sept 2017 sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl

Cal the Stoner contributing sculpture at Symmetry’s Shadow Exhibition opening on 22 & 23 Sept 2017 sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl

Michael Blamey contributing photographer at Symmetry's Shadow Exhibition opening on 22 & 23 Sept 2017 sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl

Michael Blamey contributing photographer at Symmetry’s Shadow Exhibition opening on 22 & 23 Sept 2017 sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl

Emmanuel Santos contributing photographer at Symmetry’s Shadow Exhibition opening on 22 & 23 Sept 2017 sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl

Emmanuel Santos contributing photographer at Symmetry’s Shadow Exhibition opening on 22 & 23 Sept 2017 sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl

Apu - Melbourne based Global Musician contributing musician at Symmetry's Shadow Exhibition opening on 22 & 23 Sept 2017 sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl

Apu – Melbourne based Global Musician contributing musician at Symmetry’s Shadow Exhibition opening on 22 & 23 Sept 2017 sponsored by St Kilda Art Crawl

by Kerrie Pacholli @ pationpics.com

ST KILDA ART CRAWL 21 – 24 Sept 2017

Born from universal art and culture. Inspired by California’s successful community strengthening Venice Art Crawl and fuelled by St Kilda’s passionate grass roots’ creatives.  The St Kilda Art Crawl has arrived.

Similar to St Kilda’s sister city of Venice Beach in California and like the Venice Art Crawl, St Kilda Art Crawl is a not for profit incentive for the people by the people.

It’s aim is to galvanise community spirit and co operation by proactively integrating the business world with the world of art and culture. The life blood of any great city.  This is a unified drive inviting St Kilda’s local artist, musicians, writers, poets and street artists to share and celebrate who they are with the world.

As well as combined effort and support from the local traders, artists will be supported by extensive media coverage through TV, Radio and online media.

The World is Your Oyster so get involved!

Last night Wilbur Wilde was MC at Acland Street’s Veludo Cafe host to the second Mixer for SKAC bringing together artists, enthusiasts and local traders in preparation for the next St Kilda Art Crawl on the 22 – 23 of September 2017 – a week before the grand final; and with a collaborative spirit SKAC and VAC will be streaming events via their mutual Facebook pages linking the sister cities in celebration.

Original SKAC member Mick Pacholli in Q & A

Original SKAC member Mick Pacholli in Q & A

Colonel Pietro Iodice chairman of SKAC in Q & A

Colonel Pietro Iodice chairman of SKAC in Q & A

Geoffrey Fry SKAC Creative Director in Q & A

Geoffrey Fry SKAC Creative Director in Q & A

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Enthusiastic brethren

Coin Talbot with partner Liz with Jean and Wilbur Wilde MC for the evening

Coin Talbot with partner Liz, friend  Jean and Wilbur Wilde MC for the evening

Film by MYnewsroom Tim & Simon Barnett & pationpics.com Photographs and promo byKerrie Pacholli

 

 

Gertrude Contemporary Octopus 17: Forever Transformed

Optimisim #2, 2008, type-c print, edition of 5, 80 x 80 cm, Tony Albertresized

Celebrating the launch of Gertrude Contemporary’s new architecturally designed premises, Octopus 17: Forever Transformed is the first exhibition in the new location at 21-31 High Street, Preston South. 

Forever Transformed will be the seventeenth exhibition in Gertrude Contemporary’s flagship annual Octopus series.  It opens on the evening of Friday 28 July and continues until Saturday 9 September 2017.

Octopus 17 will inaugurate the opening of Gertrude’s new premises, presenting fresh new ideas in a fresh new space.

Forever Transformed casts a critical eye to one of the most highly valued qualities of our time – resilience.  Curator Georgie Meagher has brought together works by Tony Albert, Rushdi Anwar, Sophie Cassar, Tabita Rezaire and Liz Linden to explore this concept. 

As chaos, disruption and uncertainty reign, disaster preparedness is a growth industry. The system that can withstand the most pressure is the most valuable, and the ability to bounce back from crisis is your best asset. The ability to recover quickly and seamlessly adapt to change has been widely accepted as necessary for successful bodies, minds, systems and technologies. But this growing focus on resilience simultaneously enables and justifies ever-increasing demands on humans, political systems, economies and the environment.

Contrasting works which both embrace and reject this concept, the exhibition challenges the efficacy of quickly bouncing back and explores alternative frames of reference that encompass resistance, decolonisation, perseverance, subversion and optimism, asking who is this resilience for? Why should we bounce back and get over it?

Gertrude’s exhibition program in our new location begins with one of our most anticipated annual exhibitions, Octopus, which, since 2001, invites an independent curator to test out new forms of curatorial practices and exhibition models. Octopus 17 will be curated by the Artistic Director of Next Wave, Georgie Meagher, who brings with her a passionate interest in the work of early practice artists, a strong interest in new and hybrid practices and strong networks across the country,” says Mark Feary, Artistic Director, Gertrude Contemporary.

Octopus is a unique program that offers leading curators from across Australia the opportunity to extend their professional practice, developing exhibitions that enhance curatorial and creative debate within Australia and internationally.

Gertrude Contemporary presents Octopus 17: Forever Transformed at 21-31 High Street, Preston South from Friday 28 July until Saturday 9 September 2017.  www.gertrudecontemporary.org.au

Maria Smirlis’ Online Exhibition

Go HERE!

https://www.facebook.com/pg/mariasmirlisart/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1321558647893621 

Maria Smirlis and her family have been product developers and manufacturers in the fashion industry for 5 generations in Europe and for the past fifty years in Australia

After completing a formal design education Maria Smirlis began her career working as a pattern maker grader for the MGT group of companies and has been employed over the past twenty years by leading corporations such as Holeproof , Clarks ,Pacific brands and most recently Country Road for 6 years up until January 2006. Even though Maria Smirlis was offered a place in the Victorian College of the Arts she chose Fashion Design and Textiles as her preferred courses. Painting and illustration was still a passion and she in lengthy periods throughout the past 30 years developed skills with the above.

Maria Smirlis has performed various roles in design and product development throughout her carrier and at Country Road as a senior footwear and accessories technologist.

As a young girl whilst still attending primary school Maria showed a keen interest in fashion and commenced designing and manufacturing in her mothers and fathers factory after school and on weekends.

From thirteen years of age Maria established her own clientele making eclectic designs of her own for rock bands , small retailers and local community fashion shows and also held her own shows consisting of up to 36 models at venues such as Royal Brighton yacht club in Australia and other prominent venues throughout Melbourne and Sydney.

Even though the H A R A H name was established at Byron Bay NSW Australia in early 2006 the hand made limited addition and the one off products have been available to an existing client base for several years.

H A R A H designs is always in touch with current fashion trends in London, Paris,

Milan, Tokyo, New York and with an added individual edge creates a unique eclectic product.

All H A R A H products are designed by Ms Smirlis and all manufacturing is controlled and supervised by the same in Australia.

Maria has been painting prolifically from 2013 to 2017 and has successfully sold her painting in London ,Paris and all over Australia. A large client base has been established through social media and many have started their personal collection of her original paintings.

In Conversation, Helen Zhang

Now it’s final days is MIND MARK- an exhibition taking place at inner city venue No Vacancy Gallery- it’s an exhibition that in the words of the artist- looks at how creation beyond reality is often not that easy. It is the replacement of consciousness, the conflict between the id and the ego, the fusion with nature, the breakage of logic and then transcending, the sudden change and recovery of disposition, the clash of thoughts, and the contradiction of life.
TAGG spoke with Helen about not only the exhibition but how humanity has and will continue to create work that is as much an extension of ourselves as it as in extension to the world that surrounds.
As an artist, do you look upon your practice and creation as something a little luxurious, the investment of time to create something as an example, or  is this sentiment clouded by the realities lived by artists? 
It’s all about passion and the will to create without to many expectations while I’m in the process of creating. It is also a learning process that I am constantly undergoing which is very exciting because heading into the unknown brings much joy and pleasure especially when things work out that satisfy me.
Why is it important for humans to create, what value do you place on self expression?
It’s my belief we are all connected to source energy and because of this I feel like creation is part of our existence. We are either a deliberate creator or we are a creator by default. Either way we create our own existence no matter the circumstances. Everything is manifested in the non physical as we feel and think of them, then it’s just a matter of difference if we learn to manifest our creations into the physical realm of this existence.
What would you point out as the tipping point for humanity, to have lost their connection with more traditional modes of creative expression, hat does today’s social documentation through things like instagram speak of, is it something negative or the next step in our evolution and that of creative mediums?
Your life is just a choice that you made. Don’t be to serious. Life was never meant to be so serious. Maybe if everyone just took some time to find happiness everyday by accepting things as they currently are then we can create a tipppng point of change which will bring some joy even if it’s for a short time everyday, it will give us a chance to feel and think in a more comfortable and happy way. Maybe social documentation could be seen as a suppression for humanity even though we are sharing massive amounts of personal information for the world to see, this type of disclosure could possibly be narrowing our subconscious abilities and keeping us in a narrow minded state of consciousness. Although we have access to vast amounts of information in this age which gives us the ability to research and determine truths and beliefs, we could also feel and see confusion due to the overflow of information and opportunities around us. Simplicity is the most complicated thing to achieve in this world.
What do you begin to uncover while creating this body of work, and what did you end up knowing by the end of the process, what inspiration did you take from personal memories, and what from the broader context of society inspired you further?
So I choose a subject like flowers or natural landscapes then I feel the connection with the natural beauty that has been created before me. I start to put paint to canvas and feel the appreciation of this physical experience and all that dwells in it. I’m inspired by the creation of colours and textures that nature provides. Society has many amazing artists that interpret life in many different ways and I thouroughly enjoy researching and attending other artists exhibitions and learning how they visualise life and physical forms through their eyes. I even see people that do not consider themselves as artists in the streets or shops performing art by default. I feel like everything is art created in one way or another. I guess it depends on ones perspective.
Does art really have the capacity to drive social change and alter the opinions of the majority, or is this just fallacy we tell ourselves as justification for our needs, particularly in a modern capitalist  society that artists increasingly do not fit within?
So do we need art???? Yes absolutely, as I said in a different way just before we are all painting a canvas together on a huge stage. The outcome of course is limited due to laws and conflicts between opposing parties who suppress our artistic opportunity as a society to paint the ultimate perfectly balanced painting so to speak for social change and opinions. True art has no boundaries where as your question is challenging the integrity of government, religious , banking and economic policies against a world of constant creation and manifestation of art. Art encourages us to look beyond form, to look at things in a different way other than the proposed way. Having said that our society is being created by the people we have chosen to employ in the governments and other sectors around the world who are the controlling and coordinating artists of our society and infrastructure. A friendly reminder that the people of this global society are the directors of this creation and the ones employed to run our world titled governments work for us. Somehow over the years it has been flipped on its head and we the people have become the employees and the ones who govern the globe have become the employers. Once this is flipped back around on a global scale to its correct position we can see a major change. I will not make a boundary for the word art or even catorgarize it as a subject because we are talking about our life and our existence in this physical form that can never be controlled by human intervention.
Will art ever die?
Nothing ever dies!!!!!
It only changes form from one existence to the next
For more info click here

Jacqui Solnordal

Searching for the next Picasso, Pollock or Hockney to invest in?

Buying art from up-and-coming artists is not just good for the budget (though that is a definite plus), it’s also a great feeling to support young artists while they work to make a name for themselves – just think of yourself as a benefactor of the world’s “Fine Arts Scene”.

  

 

 

 

 

 

Among the more important lessons learned by the art world in 2017:-

An emerging artists career isn’t cemented in one night, or with one breakout show. Artists who actually matter long term have careers that have built over time and one of those who is deserving of greater attention and is well positioned to rise to mammoth heights is Jacqui Solnordal.

Canadian born Jacqui Solnordal (12) daughter of former Melbourne Grammar student Andrew Solnordal, is certainly one for the keen eye.

Andrew says:-

“Jacqui has shown an aptitude and passion for drawing and painting since she could hold a pencil as a toddler. Over the years her style has varied through active experimentation. In recent times her focus has been largely toward crafting the human form. She uses multiple media, from pencil, marker, India ink fountain pen, to paint brushes of every size and texture”.

   

 

When Jacqui isn’t putting paint to paper, she can often be found wondering the aisles of their local art and craft store, assessing the next purchase with a discerning eye. Nothing but the best materials and paper for Miss Solnordal!

Andrew says:-

“Jacqui’s influences are as varied as her approach. While she has had the benefit of art classes over the years, her mainstay teachers of influence are typical of today’s youth. Namely, online artists via their Youtube channels. Examples include BayleeJae, JellieBee and ValerieFlynn’s “Art a la Carte.” Jacqui will sit for hours next to yet another online tutorial tackling a new approach to, say, drawing hands. One can only salivate at the prospect of where her talent and passion will take her”.

Whilst gender plays no role in the capacity to create a compelling painting, today, a critical mass of female painters are embracing figuration, diversifying it, and pushing the conversation around it forward.

  

Jacqui’s interpretation of her figurative paintings speaks loudly to the present, and offers glimpses into a very bright future.

Hopefully though Jacqui’s dreaminess and open creativity, she will earn herself an ever growing group of devoted critics and collectors.

   

For anyone interested in purchasing any of Jacqui’s art or seeing her catalogue of masterpieces, please contact:

Email: solnordal@shaw.ca

Ph:       +1 604 313 2788

Instagram art account is: Jacquiquidraws.

 

The Other Art Fair

THE OTHER ART FAIR

Get on your bike and head off to the other art fair, or catch the train to Kensington, if you must, drive, the parking is plenty.

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Before entering the building, graffiti artists have already marked the journey.

 

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Upon immediate entry we are reassured that the art is going to be world class with the work of JC.

 

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The nostalgic work of Jo White is a delight.

 

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Cynthia Ellis lays it on thick

 

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Leah Emery applies the cross-stich of random pornographic spam as the new temptation

 

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Home is where the Art is.

Tim Jones brings in the kittens

Christina Popovici explains Action Art

This is just a slim slice of The Other Art Fair at Kensington. I could have stayed all day. Go and be stimulated. Adorn with Australian Art.

The Other Art Fair presented by Saatchi Art   May 4-7

Van Gogh and the Seasons is a sensitively curated crowd-pleaser despite a paucity of masterpieces

 A detail from Vincent Van Gogh’s A wheatfield, with cypresses, early September 1889. National Gallery, London. Bought, Courtauld Fund, 1923 (NG3861) © The National Gallery, London

Van Gogh and the Seasons, showing at the National Gallery of Victoria, is more than an opportunity for a geographically isolated Australian audience to view the works of one of the world’s best-known and beloved artists in the flesh. Our last major Van Gogh exhibition occurred one generation ago in 1993 at the NGV, moving on to Queensland in early 1994. It adopted a broad perspective on Van Gogh’s genius, placing him in the context of both his sources and his impact on the history of art.

With 35 paintings and 13 drawings from 20 lenders, this new exhibition is not huge in scope and does not feature Van Gogh’s most iconic works. However, it is the largest collection of his work ever to travel to Australia and the first exhibition anywhere to focus so intensively on the seasonal theme. It is the fourteenth in the series of Melbourne Winter Masterpieces and brings a welcome surge of colour and movement to a damp and bleak Melbourne.

Van Gogh’s total immersion in the natural world, both as the subject of his art and for its therapeutic effects, saw him observe, in minute detail, the everchanging moods and landscapes of the seasons, cyclical time through the rhythms of farming and human activity, and the qualities of light that changed with both the time of day and the time of year.

 Vincent Van Gogh, Avenue of poplars in autumn, late October 1884 Nuenen, oil on canvas on wood panel 99.0 x 65.7 cm. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam Purchased with support from the Vincent van Gogh Foundation and the Rembrandt Association (s0141M1977)

 

Van Gogh (1853-1890) was the son of a Protestant clergyman of the Groningen school and exhibited fervent religious devotion in his mid-twenties. He rejected this, to some extent, in the 1880s, as he commenced his art practice in earnest. However, a Christian outlook remained central to a worldview that also bordered on the pagan, with all of the natural world infused with a divine presence.

Van Gogh grew up imbued with notions of public service. In the family tradition, he studied to be a minister before undertaking preaching work in England, Holland and Belgium, often living almost as a mendicant.

When these efforts came to nought, he turned to making art with the financial support of his younger brother, Theo. This was less a break with his former ambitions than a continuation of “Christ-like service” in a different guise, and re-connected him, through Theo, to the family’s commercial art business.

Van Gogh’s hope, expressed repeatedly in his letters to Theo, was to share with others the profound healing to be found in nature and in colour. The seasonal cycle promises predictability within inevitable change, and the seeds of rebirth within each death.

A tour through the seasons

Van Gogh and the Seasons is curated by the former Head of Collections at the Van Gogh Museum, Sjraar van Heugten, with the assistance of the NGV’s Senior Curator of International Art, Dr Ted Gott. It adopts a focused approach, highlighting the pivotal seasonal theme of Van Gogh’s oeuvre through which the artist expressed the joys, disappointments, melancholia and bleakness of his own mental landscapes.

The exhibition is carefully curated to play up its many strengths, while disguising some of its weaknesses. The rooms are laid out as a journey through the year, and through Van Gogh’s life as an artist.

A beautifully shot, atmospheric video, narrated by David Stratton with David Wenham as the voice of Vincent, sets the stage, explaining the centrality of the seasons to Van Gogh’s work. The next two rooms explore his sources of inspiration in his personal print collection and his fascination with Japanese woodblock prints. As the originals of the latter are too delicate to travel, the display is pulled together from the NGV’s own collection and introduces the seasonal layout.

 Vincent Van Gogh, Farmhouse in Provence, June 1888 Arles, oil on canvas 46.1 x 60.9 cm. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection (1970.17.34)

 

The remainder of the exhibition is a stroll through Van Gogh’s seasons, each separated by a semi-transparent black screen in a manner reminiscent of traditional Japanese architecture. The metaphor of the journey is extended by placing almost all works on a wall of their own. This has the additional effect of making the exhibition seem larger and of downplaying the framing inconsistencies that would be distracting when hung together.

The first of Van Gogh’s seasons – autumn, his favourite – is the season of the sower of seeds on the bare earth. This is a recurring motif in Van Gogh’s work that derives from European painting traditions, reflects his interest in the poor and honest toiling peasantry, and is also associated with the figure of Christ.

It is a season for melancholy, burnt bronzes and dark autumnal shades, such as in Avenue of poplars in autumn (1884) and Autumn landscape at dusk (1885) in which a woman in mourning walks alone down an avenue of trees and long shadows.

By 1888 Van Gogh was introducing colour into even his autumn landscapes, depicting the bustle of the grape harvest in Arles in vivid blues, greens, purples and yellows, with just a few touches of red. From the window of his asylum room in 1989, he watched the olive harvest and painted it about 30 times, thinking always of Christ in the garden at Gethsemane. Unlike his contemporaries Émile Bernard and Paul Gauguin, Van Gogh omitted the figure of Christ, leaving the viewer to discover divinity in the landscape itself.

The bleakness of a snow-covered field in winter and an idle plough, alongside images of churchyards and funeral processions, speak of the harshness of existence and death, but also of the dormant seed beneath the snow, pregnant with the potential for germination in the spring.

 Vincent Van Gogh, The parsonage garden in the snow, January 1885 Nuenen, oil on canvas on wood panel 53.0 x 78.0 cm. Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, The Armand Hammer Collection, gift of the Armand Hammer Foundation

 

Spring is the season of bulbs and blossoms, vivid greens, pinks and purples, lush growth and young green wheat. Grass spurts from nooks and crannies in gardens. Tree trunks fairly dance under clear blue skies.

Summer is the farmer now turned reaper, golden wheat fields ready for harvest, and the sheaths gathered in under turquoise skies. In these spring and summer paintings from Van Gogh’s last frenzied months of creativity, his mastery of colour and brushstroke are most apparent. The exhibition culminates in the iconic image of A wheatfield, with cypresses (1889) which, in a coup for the NGV, was loaned by the National Gallery of London. It was in just such a wheatfield that Van Gogh ended his own life at the age of 37.

Van Gogh and the Seasons is a sensitively curated crowd pleaser that justifies the NGV’s recent ranking as the 19th most popular art gallery in the world.

This article was written by:
Anita Pisch – [Visiting Fellow, School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics, Australian National University]

Van Gogh and the Seasons will be on display at NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Australia from 28 April – 9 July 2017 as part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series.

 

 

 

This article is part of a syndicated news program via the Conversation