I wanted to get an early night tonight but I haven’t blogged in too long so here’s some ramblings. In the week since finishing exams I spent some time with myself, at home and wandering around the city. It’s been nice, I visited NGV the other day, so I’ve finally visited an art gallery by myself!
NGV International on St Kilda Road is such a nice place, there’s a really quaint garden area behind the main building, and the exhibitions were really interesting too. I visited the Asian Art exhibition and saw an awesome Japanese picnic set – I wish I had a fancy lunchbox set as well. While enjoying the various artefacts I found myself wondering to the artists of yesteryear: Who were you? Why did you make this vase? Why did you choose these colours? Who were you thinking of and with what emotions? I wonder if they knew they had left something, that their art was still here, but perhaps that’s not even important. Perhaps creating, the process in and of itself, is enough.
It was strange though, I found the European exhibition quite ‘foreign’ (for want of a better word) compared to the more comfortable feeling of the asian exhibition. I guess I’m just more accustomed to Asian culture, and by extension Asian art and history. I found all the Catholic imagery a little hard to appreciate, and I definitely prefer the intricate, fluid illustrations and patterns on Asian ceramics compared to the more geometric European style. I think I might like to learn ceramics one day, I’d really like to do that – to be able to make the plates and bowls my loved ones eat out of each day.
The contemporary photography exhibition, Confounding, was quite thought-provoking. The theme was unexpected suggestions of alternate realities. From the exhibition description:
Like the remembered fragments of a dream these images seem to make sense, but do not sit comfortably.
My favourite piece was Preincarnation by Wang Qingsong, which was a “reflection on the destructive influence of modernisation on traditional Chinese culture”:
The figures depicted are ‘real’ people rather than simply desecrated statues, which along with the ‘life-sized’ men holding tools for destruction struck me as such a poignant way to make a statement on the state of Chinese culture in the PRC today, and perhaps also, the Cultural Revolution during Mao’s reign.
The Contemporary Art exhibition also did not disappoint. I love the fusion of socio-political commentary and artistic techniques. I feel like the messages represented are that little bit more worthy of my attention, not because I necessarily agree with them, but because so much thought goes into the representation of the message one would assume the artist wants to be pretty sure they have a strong and convincing message to convey. Well that’s my logic anyways.
My favourite piece was War Memorial by Robert Morris. It’s a series of imaginary proposals for “public art sculptures seeking to remind us of the suffering and human loss of war.” The prints actually made me laugh when I understood them:
Yes, that close up does read “Acrylic blocks cast around nude corpse, each soldier to exhibit a different type of mortal wound.” I couldn’t help but laugh at the incisive absurdity of the proposed ‘memorial’ to be walked onbarefoot.
The other proposals included: Trench with chlorine gas, scattered atomic waste, and crater with smoke, though my favourite was definitely the one above.