Something for the weekend…
Vale Edmund Capon
The passing of much-loved former Art Gallery of NSW director Edmund Capon AM OBE brought forth a huge number of tributes on social media, and in the press. Matthew Westwood at The Australian wrote [>] “Edmund Capon who ruled the Art Gallery of NSW for 33 years and was a larger-than-life figure in Australian art circles has died in London at 78. The debonair Englishman whose scholarship was matched by considerable social aplomb died of cancer several months after a trip late last year with his wife Joanna to Central Asia, driving the old Silk Road in a restored E Type Jaguar.”
Meanwhile Stephanie Convery at the Guardian made note of Capon’s accomplishments [>] “Under his leadership, the gallery’s collection more than doubled. He also increased gallery admissions from 329,000 in 1978 to more than 1.3 million in 2010. He was ahead of the curve in appointing specialist curators in contemporary and Indigenous art, and oversaw the opening of specialist wings of the gallery for Asian and Indigenous art.“
The 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian art, where Capon was chair of the board, noted [>] “4A are deeply saddened by the loss of our fearless leader but are most upset by the loss of our friend. Above all Edmund was a great supporter of us all in our work endeavours and our lives at home. On every occasion he made the workplace a fun and rigorously challenging place to be.”
One tribute went into more detail than most, and that was because its author, AGNSW curator of Australian art Wayne Tunnicliffe, worked closely with Capon for more than a decade. Noting Capon’s dedication to growing the collection, supporting and developing curatorial practice, as well as having a knack for securing funding while resisting State Government changes such as introducing an entry fee, Tunnicliffe also offered a neat pen portrait of the man: [>] “No one could accuse Edmund of being a systems person and he was equally averse to policy and bureaucracy, both endearing him to his staff and trustees and at times infuriating them. His mercurial nature meant it could be hard to keep pace with decision making, which was as likely to take place in the corridor or stairwell as in a minuted meeting, which also meant that nothing ever stood still or atrophied. He had an extraordinary ability to know when and where something was going on in the Gallery, even if staff were trying to keep it from him. Edmund is also fondly remembered by staff for knowing and greeting everyone by name, his mismatched socks, his daily Magnum ice creams, his cigars and his declaration that the non-smoking zone ended outside his office.”
The ABC dug up a vintage clip from 1988 of Capon giving his frank and honest thoughts [>] on a proposed giant birthday cake for the Bicentenary.
And finally, Art Life reader Paul Fogo, who worked for a time at the Art Gallery of NSW, contributed his memories: “On hearing the news of Edmund’s early passing this morning of melanoma, I was shocked and saddened. I was blessed to have him as a boss over a six-year period. He always said that his office door was open, which it indeed was. We spoke often. Being a passionate Asian Art scholar, he advised and collaborated with me when I produced installations & videos in conjunction with various exhibitions, including doing voice-overs. An original leftie, member of the Communist Party as a youth in England, he never shook off his egalitarian sentiments even while moving in the world of the wealthy elite. I encountered him last year in my hometown of Armidale when he came to open the Hinton Collection at NERAM. He was still wearing that beige suit, ragged as ever. An anecdote: Edmund grabbed me early one morning saying “get your camera gear”. Having no idea what was in store I did his bidding. We got into that big old white Jag of his and off to Potts Point we went. The driveway to this mansion on the water was impressive. More was to be revealed. On entering the large two-storey abode I was confronted by an array of familiar paintings. The owner shall remain anonymous, but just to say that we are talking about a billionaire. He was lending a major work by Alma-Tadema, an historical piece that had undergone restoration at the AGNSW. An American expert had flown out to view the piece and Edmund wanted me to document their conversation. I also recall that we discussed cinema on the drive back and I asked him what was his favorite film. I had been curating the gallery’s [screening program] at the time before Robert Herbert took over and made it something even more special. Edmund’s favourite film was L’Avventura. Great choice I thought and very telling of his passion for Arthouse cinema. “
“That is not us, this is us”.
Angelica Mesiti is representing Australia at the Venice Biennale this year and details of her major new work have just been ‘revealed’ to the press. The ABC’s Dee Jefferson reports that [>] “With the Venice Biennale kicking off in less than two months, Australian artist Angelica Mesiti and curator Juliana Engberg have revealed details of the artwork taking over the Australian Pavilion. Assembly, a three-channel video work, features an ensemble of performers reflecting the diverse cultural heritage and ancestries of contemporary Australia, enacting a cycle that runs from gathering through dispersing to re-gathering. The sequences were filmed in Australia’s Old Parliament House, in Canberra, and the Italian Senate in Palazzo Madama, Rome. Mesiti describes it as a testament to the “human necessity to come together, whether it’s to memorialise, to act in solidarity, [or] to come together and say ‘that is not us, this is us’. “I see this platform and this context — the Australian Pavilion — as a way to think about how I see [Australia],” she says. “I’m presenting my perspective of our social landscape.”
On the nature of trees
Opening on April 6th at Lismore Regional Gallery is ‘Paperbark’ a major new exhibition by Lionel Bawden. [>] “Having taken the name Paperbark when first arriving in the Northern Rivers, four years ago, Bawden here creates a kind of self-portrait in the gallery, connecting to the nature of trees becoming paper and paper as a realm of intimate exchanges across one’s life. In a world before emails and text messages, the heart often spoke through the hand written word, sent on a page of paper across vast distances, a tradition Bawden actively continues. These new works offer various forms of intimate exchange- between artist and his loved ones / between artist and the viewer, articulating the value of paper and a paradoxical tenderness toward fallen tree, having allowed such transmissions.”
Real sentiment, fake art
As Ricky Gervais latest TV series ‘After Life’ is predictably [>] dividing critics, but finding [>] some dedicated admirers, a featured art work in the show is causing a much more significant controversy. Ella Noah Bancroft writes for NITV [>] “It’s not the context of the narrative or Gervais’ performance that alarms me, but the inclusion of a huge artwork in the lounge room, which one would assume was painted by an Aboriginal artist. It uses our traditional style and is depicted as Aboriginal art. However, after NITV journalist Danny Teece-Johnson put a call out on social media in the interests of finding the – presumably Indigenous – artist, it was revealed (after a Google reverse image search) it was painted by a white British woman who is not Indigenous to this country.”
Contemporary luxury, with Foxtel
The opening of the latest in the Art Series Hotel chain is imminent. Following on from The Cullen, The Olsen and The Blackman, The Fantauzzo is joining The Johnson in Brisbane as the latest outpost in the hotel group’s chain of art themed hotels. Located under the iconic Story Bridge the Fantauzzo is [>] “a masterful blend of architecture, nature and art” and is “inspired by acclaimed Australian painter Vincent Fantauzzo, the six storey hotel is an immersion into creativity and contemporary luxury on every level”. Originally slated to open in March [but for now, just coming soon], bookings are available with the base rate at an affordable $176, which gets you a [>] “fully furnished, cliff facing, open plan suite with design inspired interiors is suited for singles and couples alike. Featuring Art Series Signature King Size Bed or 2 x Single Beds, Smart TV, Foxtel, workspace, art library, art channel, mini-bar and private ensuite bathroom. Located on the banks of the Brisbane River within the vibrant Howard Smith Wharves precinct, the property features 3 function rooms, rooftop bar, pool and state of the art gynasium.”
It seems that every few years a new ingenue artist pops up, is lauded, then quickly disappears. The latest iteration is Ginger Ren Jones-Evans, a six year old mop-topped kidlet who is having her very first solo show.
“Ginger began painting in 2014 when she was just three years old and is excited to share her work. On display will be eleven acrylic paintings and a video of behind-the-scenes footage of Ginger working in her studio. The gallery space will be dominated by Ginger’s major large-scale works starting at four meters in length.”
To be opened by Alannah Hill, because why not, Jones-Evans has been “…mentored by her uncle, artist-architect Dale Jones-Evans, together they have developed Ginger’s love of painting and her creative spirit. “I really love to mix my own colours and get up high to look down at my work. Painting always makes me feel happy,” says Ginger, who dreams of being a professional artist. Ginger’s opening night is on Friday 5th April, starting at 6pm at 110 Brougham Street, Potts Point. The exhibit runs Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th April. All artworks are for sale with prices starting at $1200.”
Saturn, seen from Titan
One of the great 20th century space artists Chesley Bonestell has finally been given the feature documentary treatment. [>] “Even before there were spacecraft to show us, in the 1940s and ‘50s, readers of magazines such as Collier’s, LIFE, and Sky & Telescope had a pretty good idea what kinds of scenery we might find on the moon, Mars, Pluto, and the moons of the outer planets. All these worlds came to life in paintings by a single visionary artist: Chesley Bonestell. He’s the subject of a new feature-length documentary, ‘Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with The Future’. If you’ve never heard of Bonestell, you’ll come away from the film wondering why not. And if, like me, you knew something of Bonestell’s life and work, you’ll be astonished to discover how much more you didn’t know.”
It seems unlikely but one of Australia’s leading photographers has an Instagram account of [at last count] just 182 followers. Glenn Slogett‘s [>] diseased_roses is an outstanding and ever growing collection of images taken on his journey through life. Sloggett’s world view is dyspeptic, and he promises never to be in a ‘good mood’, but if you prefer your images a little downbeat, this is the place to be.
- Pop kid Billie Eilish collaborated with Japanese pop bloke Takashi Murakami [>] for the cover of Garage magazine in late 2018. The latest in their ongoing collaboration has just been released – a music video for Eilish’s ‘You Should See Me In A Crown,’ an anime horror show directed by Murakami. There’s [>] a 30 second taster on YouTube while the whole thing – replete with the artist’s trademark iconography – [>] is available on Apple Music.
- [>] The international art world mourns the passing of Okwui Enwezor.
- French filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché was the first female film director, and renowned as an innovator in the field. Then she moved to Hollywood. [>] How Hollywood Froze Out the Founding Mother of Cinema.
- [>] This new video game lets you do nothing in particular in a suburban Russian tower block
- A French adman claims victory in his legal battle over a surreal campaign featuring a rescue pig and freezing model as [>] Jeff Koons Is Found Guilty of Plagiarism in Paris and Ordered to Pay $168,000 to the Creator of an Ad He Appropriated
- Reginald van de Velde [>] has produced a stunning photographic series of abandoned cooling towers
- Remember that plot point [>] in Prometheus about how ancient civilisations shared common glyphs and symbols? Not so crazy now…
- [>] Terrible 16ft painting of Donald Trump is rebuffed by museum, artist in turn sues Smithsonian…
And when you vote in NSW tomorrow, keep this in mind…
In an unprecedented move, the Balnaves Foundation have taken out a full page ad in the run up to the NSW State Election on March 23rd.