5 Good Things in 2012

Leg of Lamb’s written a short list, in chronological order, of five very disparate art highlights of the year.  There were other highlights too of course; Tony Clark and Polly Borland at Murray White, Layla Rudneva-McKay at Starkwhite and et al. at Kaliman Rawlins all get honourable mentions…

Then there’s:

Henry Jock Walker, performance still from 'Somethingland'
Henry Jock Walker, performance still from ‘Somethingland’ at TCB

Henry Jock Walker’s Somethingland at TCB, Melbourne, 30 May – 16 June
Walker’s a painter.  He’s a surfer too.  And sometimes he surfs on his paintings.  One of the artist’s paint/surfboard hybrids was included in his show at TCB.  Scrubbed with surf wax, the monochromatic canvas cleverly poked fun at the lofty ideals of modernist painting.  The front space contained remnants of a painting performance as well.  Walker’s bodysuit-clad alter ego transformed the gallery thanks to a souped up, faux abstract expressionist painterly frenzy, recorded and replayed in situ.

'We Are All Flesh' installation view at ACCA
‘We Are All Flesh’ installation view at ACCA

Berlinde De Bruyckere’s We are all flesh at ACCA, Melbourne, 2 June – 29 July
De Bruyckere’s giant headless horse forms and contrastingly delicate wax sculptures of antlers and other ephemera reflected on life’s transience with great subtlety.  The pared back show contained only a handful of works – each a haunting testament to the slippage between life, death and transcendence.

Exterior of Taman Budaya, site of ARTJOG, on opening night
Exterior of Taman Budaya, site of ARTJOG12, on opening night

Looking East: ARTJOG12  at Taman Budaya, Yogyakarta, 14 – 28 July
For an immersive introduction into the vibrant contemporary art scene in Yogyakarta, look no further than ARTJOG, a key event in the city’s cultural calendar.  ARTJOG doesn’t include individual stands.  Rather, it’s a ‘curated’ event in which works are selected for exhibition following an open call for submissions.  A highlight each year are the commissioned projects, that often transform the exterior of the venue, Taman Budaya.  The works above are by two of this year’s commissioned artists, Joko Dwi Avianto and I Made Widya Diputra.

'Still Life Social Climber' installation view
‘Still Life Social Climber’ installation view at Neon Parc

John Spiteri’s Still Life Social Climber at Neon Parc, Melbourne, 22 August – 22 September
Leg of Lamb is a long time fan of Sydney painter John Spiteri, so much so that one of the works in this show came home with me.  The canvases in Still Life Social Climber were scraped and scratched, covered in little cross hatches and muddy ambiguities.  These abstractions were enlivened by hints of figuration and narrative, suggested in nebulous half forms and titles like ‘Busy People’ and ‘Sultan’.  Mysterious and dreamy, Spiteri’s paintings are slow burns.

'Theatre of the World' installation view, MONA
‘Theatre of the World’ installation view at MONA

Theatre of the World curated by Jean-Hubert Martin at MONA, Hobart, 23 June – April 13, 2013
Martin, former director of the Pompidou, has selected over 400 objects from the collections of MONA and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in an exhibition that collapses conventional museological divisions between ancient and contemporary. Seemingly disparate objects (like a Picasso painting and an African tribal shield) are juxtaposed in a manner in which art historical context is subsumed in favour of curation that promotes the very act of ‘seeing’.  Invigorating.

5 Good Things in 2012

Just in time for Christmas II

Urs Fischer's Christmas screensaver; 'a bread roll meets a foot'
Urs Fischer’s Christmas screensaver; ‘a bread roll meets a foot’

The Guardian has commissioned a whole bunch of artists (including Urs Fisher, Ai Weiwei and Martin Creed) to make a series of free Christmas-themed screensavers, downloadable from their website.  Featured artist Cory Arcangel’s suggestion to ‘relax, it’s just the holidays’ seems particularly timely.  Check out the full suite here.

Just in time for Christmas II

Artists Ditch Gagosian

Larry Gagosian and Damien Hirst have parted company
Larry Gagosian & Damien Hirst have parted ways

Larry Gagosian is facing the loss of two of his most well known artists.  Last week Damien Hirst’s company Science Limited announced; “Larry Gagosian and Damien have reached an amicable decision to part company.”  It was only in January that Gagosian committed to showing the artist’s complete suite of spot paintings at all Gagosian galleries worldwide.  The dealer has represented Hirst for 17 years.

Hirst’s departure was followed a day later by that of Yayoi Kusama, who has shown with Gagosian since 2009.  (Another Gagosian artist – Jeff Koons – is still ostensibly in the stable, but has lined up a solo show at rival gallery David Zwirner in the New Year).  In the mean time, Hirst and Kusama continue to be represented by White Cube and Victoria Miro/Ota Fine Arts respectively.

Artists Ditch Gagosian

A New Director for QAG/GOMA

Chris Saines
Chris Saines outside Auckland Art Gallery (pre-development)

Chris Saines is the new director of the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane.  Saines has been the Director of Auckland Art Gallery since 1996 and oversaw its recent redevelopment.  He replaces QAG/GOMA’s former Director Tony Elwood, who became Director of the NGV here in Melbourne in August.  Saines will replace Acting QAG/GOMA Director Suhanya Raffel at the end of April.

A New Director for QAG/GOMA