From Andrew Frost…
There cannot be a Salon des Refuses without the Archibald Prize, nor for that matter, the Wynne Prize. And that’s simply because the Salon des Refuses is an exhibition of works that weren’t selected as finalists for either of the Art Gallery of NSW’s big annual prizes. The show acts as a sort of consolation for the broken-hearted and love-lorn, those unfortunates who have felt the harsh sting of rejection. Happily, of the 868 portraits submitted for the Archibald and the 763 landscape paintings entered for the Wynne, the Salon des Res judges have selected a further 57 for the second chance of having their work seen at the S.H. Ervin Gallery.
The title of the show is taken from a series of breakaway exhibitions staged in Paris in the 1860s that included work by the upstart geniuses of La Belle Époque, those beret wearing iconoclasts whose work was rejected by the Academy, paintings that rocked the boulevard and educated the bourgeois. It’s drawing a long bow perhaps to think works deemed not good enough for the Archibald are masterpieces in hiding, but the Salon has a rough-n-tumble attraction all of its own, where artistic excellence alone is put aside in favour of “…humour, diversity and innovation”. That the show is predicated on trying to figure out why some works in the show weren’t included in the Archibald/Wynne, and others were, also makes the des Res as kind of democratic mind-meld – if we all think together hard enough we might understand the thinking of the AGNSW’s trustees. Or not. Maybe just enjoy the show.
Until May 19
SH Ervin Gallery
Pic: Leigha White, BQ, 2013. Oil on Linen, 130x180cms.