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

We are all flesh

Berlinde de Bruyckere ‘We are all flesh’, installation view, ACCA, Melbourne

The work of Belgian artist Berlinde de Bruyckere invokes a strange pathos.  Her current show at ACCA features two sculptures (commissioned specifically for the exhibition) comprised of a pair of horse carcasses suspended from poles, one from the wall, the other freestanding.  Impressive in scale, the stretched and contorted creatures are made from stitched up hides re-stretched over wax casts.  And they’re headless – a modification that makes them distinctly unsettling.  The reconfigured creatures are both monumental and melancholic; a moving foil to the heroic beasts found in history paintings and classical sculpture.

Berlinde de Bruyckere, installation view

This sense of insidious sadness is further teased out in works of great delicacy – in a cabinet of curiosities filled with branches cast from wax, and in stringed up sets of wax antlers that transition from pure white into veins of bloody red. We are all flesh is a show of great subtlety, even tenderness, in which de Bruyckere’s biomorphic forms gently capture a haunting, decidedly human vulnerability.

Berlinde de Bruyckere, We are all flesh, at ACCA, Melbourne, until July 29th

We are all flesh