Leg of Lamb is off to Vietnam (!) so don’t expect any posts until the end of January. Until then, happy holidays.
Neon Parc co-founder Tristian Koenig has left the gallery in the hands of fellow director Geoff Newton and started his own eponymously titled space. Koenig will launch his new venture in January at Art Stage Singapore with a booth featuring work by Karen Black, Christopher Hanrahan and Riley Payne. His South Yarra gallery is set to open later next year.
Don Van Vliet, better known as Captain Beefheart died yesterday aged 69. Unbeknownst to some, the cult musician was also a practising artist. Van Vliet increasingly turned his attention to painting in the 1980s following the advice of a New York dealer who claimed that he would never be taken seriously as an artist unless he gave up songwriting. Van Vliet went on to enjoy a moderate degree of success as a neo-expressionist painter, but Leg of Lamb reckons his ultimate legacy is his baffling, mysterious music.
(Watch the second half of Anton Corbijn’s documentary about Captain Beefheart here).
He photographed celebrities including Lou Reed and and Whitney Houston, but fashion photographer Gary Gross was best-known for a controversial shoot involving a young Brooke Shields, who posed naked for the photographer at the tender age of 10. Shields later took Gross to court to prevent him from selling the shots but reproduction of the images was ultimately permitted.
In 1983, one of these photographs (above) was immortalised by Richard Prince, who appropriated the work and re-presented it within his own practice. Entitled ‘Spiritual America’, the Prince iteration was so controversial that last year it was pulled from the Tate exhibition Pop Life when authorities warned that it could breach obscenity laws. It was previously exhibited at the Guggenheim, New York, without complaint.
Despite a successful career in fashion, commissions waned in the wake of the Shields scandal and Gross increasingly turned his attention to canine pursuits, even opening a dog training school in Manhattan. His most recent work involved large format studio portraits of aging dogs.
Utopian Slumps’ end of year show, The Painting Group, features the work of nine Australian artists who act as a self-proclaimed ‘painting support group’ for each other. It’s the first time they have exhibited together and their work is really packed in. Ideally they could have been afforded a little more breathing space but despite this, some stand-out pieces shine through.
Five paintings by Jess Lucas, all entitled ‘Age 15, Talent Agency’ depict the inherent awkwardness of youth. Lucas loves to play with the facades of things and her subject, despite her best professional poses, emanates an uneasiness created by painterly distortions that subtly morph and warp the teen’s features.
Next to Lucas are two composite landscapes by New Zealand-born Jake Walker. The fusion of rural vistas in ‘Taupo’ (above) reveals the artist’s interest in the layering of imagery – he often works on top of found paintings. Particularly enticing is the inclusion of an intricately painted square of crocheted rug. This colourful embellishment enlivens the scene with a retro flourish that recalls the domestic interiors of the areas depicted.
But it’s ‘The Lucky Country’ by William Mackinnon that steals the show. In amplified colour, the artist’s textural application of paint evinces the raw earthiness of the outback. Unlike his previous series involving nocturnal roadside scenes and fantastical landscapes, this work delves into the realms of social commentary and the nature of the imagery makes the title sting.
To see the work of these artists, and others, head to Utopian Slumps before the show closes on Saturday. The Painting Group, Utopian Slumps, Ground Floor, 33 Guildford Lane, Melbourne.