Thursday, 16 January 2014

22nd Dec - Art Gallery of South Australia - Adelaide

I ended up going to this excellent gallery three times in search of a guided tour. No problem though, as each trip uncovered more interesting works and themes. If you're more interested in paleontology then scroll to the bottom. (I am not Ross).

Here's a selection of pieces that caught my eye:
A slice of Bacon.
On my final visit, and suitable for Christmas, I was shown this amazing tapestry by William Morris and his studio. As usual with him, all the pigments are naturally occuring and sourced by hand. Arts and crafts.
I last encountered the work of Richard Long in a gallery in Cape Town. Here he is again, removed from context, with a circular arrangement of Cornish slates from one of his journeys.
Another 'walking artist' Hamish Fulton, similarly sanctifies his relationship with the land through photography. See also Andy Goldsworthy, and also Stanley Donwood's recent collaboration with Robert Macfarlane. It's difficult to appreciate these works in an art gallery, when really they belong out on country under big skies.

Back to traditional fine arts with this piece from Camden by unlikely Jack the Ripper suspect, Walter Sickert. Did the model survive this slightly squalid sickert encounter?

Another reclining nude, this from 1927 by kiwi artist Charles Wheeler. "And so the story ends". Beautiful skin tones. I wonder if she also looked good in ribbons?
One from Fiona Hall's Seven Deadly Sins, this being gluttony.

A captivating 40 min long video tryptich hypnotically choreographed by AES+F, a group of four Russian artists, reminiscent of Mathew Barney.

A typically macabre installation by Jake & Dinos Chapman. I had the pleasure of working with Jake a few years ago and found him thoroughly pleasant and not very deranged at all.
Tim Webster & Sue Noble made gold plated casts of mummified rodents, and arranged them to cast intriguing self-portrait shadows in this The Gamekeeper's Gibbet.

This was perhaps my favourite work in the whole gallery. An Untitled photo by Adam Fuss, almost impossible to discern until ones eyes adjust to the dark. A ghostly figure of a boy emerging from the image is barely there at all. It was hauting in it's ephemerality. I've enhanced the photo a little to bring out the latent image.

A Lalique dragonfly broach.

This huge Ferris-wheel like structure by Ian Burns, called Clouds, to my mind ugly because it's inner workings are so much on show, nevertheless held me captive for minutes as I studied it's varying texts created by the switching of light-bulbs refracted through magnifying lenses and repeating piano motifs from attached keyboards, mini-cams and LCD screens. All made from ladders, tables, buckets, umbrellas and other hardware store finds.

There are several sculptures of human figures dotted around the gallery. This gimpy couple by Thomas Hirschhorn was particularly striking. Each of the thousands of screws are driven to a deliberate depth.
In an adjoining room, Cupid points his arrow at a painting of two lovers.

On the ground-floor near the entrance stands Marc Quinn's Buck, a life cast of a the eponymous cigar-smoking, tattooed Trans-sexual. 
Down in the basement, echoing back Buck, is this figure.
Finally, two different ideas of Australian art, firstly a crowded beach from 1940 by Charles Meere, depicting body-beautiful surfers and bathers
Secondly, painted on bark, from near Cape York, an aboriginal conjuring of a whale shark attacking dolphins. Imagine seeing that happen!

After all that art I went round the corner to the museum of South Australia to look at some rocks -
More interesting than it might sound actually.

When Darwin and Wallace were working out their theories of evolution, they had a bit of gap at the beginning their fossil timeline, between simple single-cell organisms and complex early creatures like trilobites, round about 500m years ago. This gap, one that loony creationists still point at, was fortunately plugged by a paleontologist in 1946 working in the Flinders Range close to Adelaide, in a place called the Ediacara Hills. Others had seen these small jelly-fish like fossils for decades before, but thanks to their preservation and prevalence here, the awkward gap was filled, and the theory of evolution had a complete timeline. Hence, Ediacara Biota - The very long bit before the arthropods, the dinosaurs, the birds, mammals, and (just now) us.

Given the proximity of those hills, the museum is very proud of its display of those Rosetta-like slabs of rock. 

Melvyn had a good programme about it some months ago, there's a link here:

There's also a fine collection of minerals, metals, ores and crystals, this one arranged by colour, just for the fun of it:

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