Stefan Dunlop @ Edwina Corlette – Sydney Contemporary 13

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Australian II, 2013

Stefan Dunlop is a charming guy who paints confrontational imagery in candy-toned colours. His facility with paint could really get him into trouble.

What I mean to say is: a huge part of his work’s appeal is its program of ‘seduce and destroy.’ Seduce by offering the eye unctuous passages of pastel-toned hues, laid down one next to the other in pleasing, rhythmic slices — reminiscent, to me, of Cézanne’s structured brushwork. And destroy  because once he’s reeled you in like a fish on a hook – BANG! – you’re left to deal with the uncomfortable irony of his chosen imagery, and the way his pictures insidiously mess with stereotypes, mores and political correctness.

They make me angry. But I like that. 

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The Industrialist, 2013

 

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Woman in Landscape II, 2013

When he and I chatted, he told me he had, at one point, studied for five months at the New York Studio School in Manhattan. This makes perfect sense to me. Not only because of his naturalistic approach to figure drawing (The Studio School is a bastion of disciplined draftsmanship and hand-produced graphic composition), but also because his having spent that block of time in the City that Never Weeps with millions of hardcore tough guys and gals would have allowed his native, Antipodean, comic sense of the absurd to surface and blossom. I haven’t yet encountered another Australian visual artist who allows him/herself to be so darkly, honestly conflicted in such plain view. In Australian literature, sure, you meet this with authors like Peter Carey. But, please, will someone reading this suggest other artists in Australia who build a similar construct of pleasure and mordant sarcasm? The work of Richard Bell comes to mind — particularly his video Scratch an Aussie, 2008 — because Bell’s sensibility is also deeply grounded in trenchant wit and fearless piss-taking.

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Monument to Romanticism, 2013

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Diana, 2013

Dunlop’s a good painter and he knows it. He has earned this territory. I support his intuition that there has to be someone here in this neck of the woods holding a dialogue with art history and traditional painting — while also going for the gut.  

   

Art Publications @ Sydney Contemporary 13

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Tania Evans, Managing Editor and Anne-Marie Jean, Publication Coordinator of Art Monthly Australia

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Rebecca Cason, Business and Advertising Manager, of eyeline (Sarah Follent, Executive Editor, was attending the ‘Anti-Aesthetic vs. Beauty’ panel discussion at the time of this photo)

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Georgia Thorpe, Advertising and Subscriptions Manager, Imprint

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Robyn Stuart, Editor-in-Chief, and Nick Garner, Production and Direction Manager, of das Platforms that publishes das Super Paper

Okay – so I’m shamelessly plugging, flogging, whatever. But these people acted as my people during my hours of wandering around the fair, and I’m grateful to them for giving me a cozy place to sit down and rant or simply rest my feet.

Art publications are the unsung heroes of the art world. The editors and staff of these publications do what they do out of love for being in the mix of new and old ideas, artists, politics, markets and provocation. Sure, making a living comes into it, but the hours are endless in putting out a well-crafted publication that sets high standards of critical dialogue, thoughtful reporting, and art world news. 

Art mags supply the juice that feeds the circuits that run the machine. And they do so by providing space for advertising, of course. But where the real contribution comes in is in being the reliable platform for thinking, communication, imagery — all the visuals (text and pictures) that make art hum along and get out into the greater world.

Probably anyone reading this blog is familiar with these magazines and publications, so I don’t really need to go into the love/hate relationship artists have with art mags. I do want to say, however, that my dealings with Australian and American editors and staff have always been collegial and supportive. And I’ve always loved transacting business – publishing – by written word.

As you know, changes in the art world’s cultural boundaries and in artists’ ways of making art are rapidly and multifariously transforming. Publications that document the present will later form an important historical resource. And that’s right, art history is not dead, no way. It’s just that the old hierarchies are branching out in so many directions they can no longer function in terms of hegemony.

Other publications hosting booths at the fair included Art Almanac, ARTAND, Art Guide Australia, artshub, Flash Art, Photofile, Pipeline, Art Asia Pacific, Australian Financial Review, Art Collector, Artist Profile, Visual Arts and Culture Broadsheet, and Vault. 

 

Sydney Contemporary 13

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Australia’s new Contemporary Art Fair presented modern and contemporary artwork from over 80 Australian and international galleries from 19-22 September. Word has it that somewhere between 8,000 and 14,000 people attended the opening event on Thursday evening (!). They said it was hard to move around, and it was a helluva party.

I arrived early Friday morning, fresh off a 6:40 flight from Brisbane and some stumbling around Redfern with my bags. I’m aware that many people hold a bad impression of Redfern given that it’s a semi-industrial inner city neighbourhood and because of the race riots that erupted here in February 2004 after the questionable death of 17 year-old Aboriginal boy. But I liked the feel of the place – reminded me of Williamsburg pre-gentrification. The terrace houses here are connected like row houses in Brooklyn and other US cities, but the front doors open straight onto street level with no stoops. Very cozy with a bit of genteel grunge. Just how I like it.

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My ticket did not allow me entrance until 12pm, so I sat down and answered some emails and observed. Everyone going in was wearing one of those plastic-sleeved ID cards strung from black ribbon around their necks. I needed one too, I realised, or I would not be taken seriously within this inner sanctum of ‘Who are you?” The wonderful women at the ticketing desk generously prepared an ID for me. And so I became ‘Carol Schwarzman Media/Freelance Arts’ and empowered to survive the subtle, mutual scanning of IDs prevalent among exhibitors, artists, attendees and ‘others’ working the floor. Thanks, Ticket Women. I am a nube:

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I must say, I had a wonderful time at the Sydney Contemporary. I thought it was run brilliantly. The food and coffee on offer were exemplary and the use of the Carriageworks’ space afforded the crowd plenty of up close people watching, as well as a freely streaming grid of galleries showing high quality work, worthy of multiple visits all around.

Just a few more photos to set the stage. My next posts will focus on the art, the artists and the gallerists, and also art publications…

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Very adorable and helpful people working at the fair

 

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The cafe going at full tilt. I had the take-away antipasto that featured smokey marinated artichokes and gobs of pancetta.

 

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The bowels (@#$!) of the Carriageworks and more helpful helpers.

Have a look at the fair’s website: http://sydneycontemporary.com.au/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to polycentrica

Brutus the alligator and I welcome you to the new blog. I’ll be writing about art, interviewing artists and others, observing cultural shifts and changes and keeping an eye on Nature (You can read more about Brutus by clicking on the tab for the About page).

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Many centres or no centre? You choose, your preference – it all depends on how you want to look at it. The world is crammed full with attention-hungry ideas and sensations that push and pull us.

This photo was taken of the ground seepage at the landfill park where I walk my dog every day…

Speaking of which, I have now managed to get myself down to Sydney. Please see the next post.