Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA)
Queensland's premier visual arts institution, the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), connects people and art through a dynamic program of Australian and international exhibitions that showcase works from a diverse range of historical and contemporary artists.
Until mid April, the Queensland Art Gallery hosts the National Gallery of Australia exhibition ‘Picasso: The Vollard Suite’, the themes and questions raised by the famous suite — to which the dynamics between artist and muse, and men and women, are central — can be further explored through selected sculptures from the QAGOMA Collection.
He spoke to her, he stroked her
Lightly to feel her living aura
Soft as down over her whiteness.
His fingers gripped her hard
To feel flesh yield under the pressure
That half wanted to bruise her
Into a proof of life, and half did not
Want to hurt or mar or least of all
Find her the solid ivory he had made her.1
The sculptor falls in love with his creation, wishing her to life with his touch, wanting to feel the softness of living flesh, rather than the hard materials he has worked to a semblance of the human form. He is enthralled by her perfection — perhaps as profoundly as he is impressed by his own talents and artistry. The potential of a sensual touch to animate, to bring a still subject to life: what greater power exists? Classical mythology — here, the story of Pygmalion — gives Picasso all he needs to reflect on his own life.
In the ‘Vollard Suite’, Picasso channels the energy of his relationship with his young muse, model and lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter, into 100 images, 46 of which focus on the sculptor’s studio and are languid, sensual and playful. The distinctive features of Marie-Thérèse, who was 17 when she met the then 45-year-old artist, are scattered across the suite in images exploring intimacy, vulnerability, sexuality and violence. Works revealing darker drives and desires feature the mythical half-man, half-beast, the Minotaur. While Picasso’s own features are clearly recognisable in only one print, the ‘Vollard Suite’ as a whole is a kind of self-portrait, and includes many images of surprising honesty.
Until 15 April, Queensland audiences are able to explore this iconic group of works, on tour from the National Gallery of Australia, presented together with QAGOMA’s own blue-toned gouache of the same period, Femme au parasol couchée sur la plage (Woman with parasol on the beach) 1933. The woman we see reclining here is described in a series of curving forms. Her nose arches almost to her forehead — a feature repeated across the ‘Vollard Suite’, where Picasso often accentuates Marie-Thérèse’s prominent aquiline nose. We see a similar play of forms in Picasso’s sculptures of the period: some of these were reproduced in the first edition of the surrealist magazine, Minotaur, which is shown as part of this exhibition and is available electronically in the gallery space.
The creative process of making sculpture is essential to the ‘Vollard Suite’, as well as the relationship between men and women, both in art and in broader cultural histories. A selection of sculptures from our Collection further explores these themes, in the context of artistic tradition, and in terms of Picasso’s influence on later generations of artists. Italian artist Giacomo Ginotti’s nineteenth-century white marble Lucretia, for example, presents the idealised figure of a woman at a moment of absolute trauma. According to Roman legend, she was raped, and we see her poised to take her own life as a result. Also on display are classically influenced works by Australian artists — Daphne Mayo’s bronze Susannah 1942 (cast 1980) and Raynor Hoff’s delicate plaster The Kiss 1924. Later works include Joel Elenberg’s two bronzes titled Anna, both cast in 1979, which depict his wife.
Installation views of ‘Picasso: The Vollard Suite’ at QAG, featuring Giacomo Ginotti’s 19th-century white marble Lucretia and Mike Parr’s Stepped wedge 1998, both from the Gallery’s Collection / Photographs: Natasha Harth
Like Picasso, Elenberg finds beauty and drama in his partner’s profile. Contemporary artist Mike Parr’s Stepped wedge 1998 radically interrupts the space, its monumental wax and- graphite surface echoing the physicality of Picasso’s mark-marking and themes of the suite. A powerful presence, Parr’s work dramatises the rush of two lines converging on a distant vanishing point.
Picasso created the ‘Vollard Suite’ at a time of unrest and upheaval in Europe. Fascism was on the rise. Only months after he completed the final three prints — portraits of his patron and the commissioner of the suite, Ambroise Vollard — the artist painted Guernica 1937, using an evolution of this iconography to protest the bombing of civilians in his Spanish homeland. In it, we can recognise the distinctive profile of Marie-Thérèse Walter, together with the bull and the wounded horse. Vollard’s unexpected death in a car accident and the upheaval of World War Two delayed the release of the prints. When they were published in the 1950s, art historian Hans Bollinger gave the works descriptive titles and nominated seven groupings: ‘The Plates’, ‘The Battle of Love’, ‘Rembrandt’, ‘The Sculptor’s Studio’, ‘The Minotaur’, ‘The Blind Minotaur’ and ‘Portraits of Ambroise Vollard’.
We have opted to show the prints in these groups (which has now become a convention), rather than in chronological order. If we had, it would be clear that Picasso created the suite in bursts of activity. He often worked quickly, drawing directly onto the plate with his distinctive ease and beauty of line — this is particularly visible in the classically derived images of ‘The Sculptor’s Studio’, and also in the poignant Dying Minotaur print. Mortally wounded, the man–beast is watched over by the repeated face of Marie-Thérèse. Picasso shows his capacity as a printmaker by gouging into the metal surface of the plate to create Minotaur caressing a sleeping woman — a remarkable image of tenderness, bound to potential violence. Sometimes he returns to certain images, reworking the plates again and again. Among these are two of the five titled ‘rape’ by Bollinger. We can understand his reasoning as we make out the bearded figure of a man above a woman. But after the distance and yearning of other images in the suite, we might ask whether this image, with its muscular churning of limb and melded bodies, depicts one person overpowering another or a moment of shared abandon. How do we read any one image, as we seek to relate such complex inherited histories, the life of the artist, and our own experience?
Picasso’s ‘Vollard Suite’ offers a rich reflection on the artist’s intimate world in all its complexity. It questions the relationship between men and women, and the ideals and narratives of power and beauty as conveyed through art — subjects that animate public debate today.
1 Drawn from Ted Hughes’s ‘Pygmalion’, in Tales from Ovid, Faber and Faber, London, 1997. My thanks to my colleague David Burnett, Curator, International Art, for introducing me to this evocative translation.
Extract from ‘Picasso: the Vollard Suite’ published in the Gallery’s Artlines magazine, issue 1, 2018
Australian Art History 1933–1978 is a larger-than-life crossword by Noel McKenna in the shape of Australia, intended for an in-crowd interested in Australian art history of the twentieth century. As time marches on since the work was created in 2004, the questions have become even harder to answer.
We have listed all the questions here for you, so let us know how you go before we post the answers next week. The artwork is currently hung in ‘Landscape – Mapped‘ at the Queensland Art Gallery until Monday 2 April 2018.
2. One of the ‘Annandale Imitation Realists’. Last name only. [5 LETTERS]
6. Artist, designer. Born in Toowoomba 1903. Mural for Bathurst High School in 1941, the artist won the first of 3 Sulman Art prizes. Between 1941-44 was a camouflage office (RAAF). Last name only. [6 LETTERS]
7. Born Frankfurt 1914. Artist, art critic at SMH (Sydney Morning Herald) 1942-57. Last name only. [9 LETTERS]
9. Born Wales 1920. Artist. Arrived Port Kembla 1923. At age 14 designed his own racing bicycle and had it made. Worked as an engineer until retirement. Last name only. [6 LETTERS]
10. Author of ‘Place, Taste and Tradition’. A Study of Australian Art since 1788’. Last name only. [5 LETTERS]
12. Born 1927. Lilydale, Australia. Artist. 1968 solo exhibition at Chester Beatty Research Institute, London. Painting Sugar Workers’ Mess 1960, 44 x 46 cm in NGA (National Gallery of Victoria) Collection. Last name only. [7 LETTERS]
14. Painter. Exhibited with Contemporary Group of Melbourne formed by George Bell in the 1930’s. Last name only. [4 LETTERS]
15. In 1941, artist’s painting Monday Morning acquired by Metropolitan Museum of Art. Last name only. [8 LETTERS]
16. In 1974, first solo show (at age 57) at Macquarie Galleries, Canberra. Last name only. [9 LETTERS]
18. Artist. Designed cover for Henry Miller’s novel ‘Murder the Murderer’ published by Rees and Harris 1942. Last name only. [5 LETTERS]
19. Born Ipswich, Australia 1897. Arts writer for Herald in Melbourne in the 1930s. In 1939 assembled for Sir Keith Murdock the first exhibition of French and British Modern Art (over 200 works including Bonnard, Braque, Gris, Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh, Nicholson and Sutherland. Last name only. [7 LETTERS]
21. Artist. Painted Mad Girl 1941-43, oil on tin, 44.5 x 57.2 cm. Both names. [9 LETTERS]
23. Fictitious poet created by James McAuley and Harold Stewart in 1943. 1st name only. [3 LETTERS]
24. Artist. Had one man exhibition at Hirsch and Adler Galleries, New York in 1960. Both names. [12 LETTERS]
28. Artist. Born 1928. Painting Bicycle Boys 1955 92.5×77.2 cm in NGA (National Gallery of Australia) collection. Last name only. [5 LETTERS]
31. Artist. Born 1908. Painter. Husband was a sculptor. Their home is now a public gallery on the outskirts of Sydney. Last name only. [6 LETTERS]
33. Artist. Drawing by artist is on cover of ‘The Vegetative Eye’, a novel by Max Harris, 1943. Both names. [11 LETTERS]
35. Artist. Born 1920 Melbourne, September 11, 1952, gave lecture on Seurat at NGV (National Gallery of Victoria). Exhibition of racecourse series of prints and watercolours in 1956. Last name only. [5 LETTERS]
36. Australian Art Dealer. The dealer’s gallery staged a solo exhibition of Colin McCahon in 1975. Both Names. [9 LETTERS]
37. Artist. Born 1891. Painting The olive plantation 1946 is in Art Gallery of South Australia collection. Last name only. [5 LETTERS]
39. Artist. Painting Kangaroo hunt acquired by MOMA, New York in 1941. Last name only. [11 LETTERS]
41. Artist. Born 1890 England. 2nd solo show in 1965 acclaimed by Daniel Thomas as the ‘first non-figurative one-man show in Australia’. 2nd name only. [6 LETTERS]
42. Artist. Born 1923. Expressionist painter. Painting Lunatic 1957 in NGA (National Gallery of Australia) collection. Last name only. [6 LETTERS]
44. Artist. Captured and imprisoned in Germany in 1914. There began studies in Chinese Calligraphy which was the beginning of life-long fascination for China. First name only. [3 LETTERS]
45. Artist, designer, born 1910. Painted first abstract painting in Melbourne 1933. Organised line to yellow. Last name only. [5 LETTERS]
46. Artist. Born 1939. Did a series of paintings based on Lavender Bay, Sydney, where the artist lived. Last name only. [8 LETTERS]
1. Melbourne Gallery. Held an exhibition of Anti-Fascist art in 1942. One word … Gallery. [9 LETTERS]
2. Artist. Born Sheffield, UK, 1940. Exhibited ‘The Field’ NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), 1968. Last name only. [5 LETTERS]
3. Artist. Awarded Gold medal at Sao Paulo Biennale in 1971. Last name only. [6 LETTERS]
4. Artist. Painted picture We inhabit the corrosive littoral of habit 15 ¾ x 19 ½ inches 1941. Collection NGV (National Gallery of Victoria). Last name only. [7 LETTERS]
5. Artist. In 1941 adopted Dorrit Black’s ‘golden section’ device (Greek geometry) to calculate the structure of paintings. Both names. [12 LETTERS]
8. Gallery Director. Wrote catalogue for ‘Fred Williams, Etchings’ published by Rudy Koman Gallery in 1968. Last name only. [8 LETTERS]
11. Artist. Was in ‘The Field’ show 1968 at NGV (National Gallery of Victoria). Also photographed seated with his back to the camera on page 180 of ‘Private View, The Lively World of British Art’, published 1965. Both names. [14 LETTERS]
13. Artist. Won the Wynne Prize for a 4th time, gave the prizemoney back to the AGNSW (Art Gallery of New South Wales) provided they purchase a work by Gunther Christmann. Both names. [10 LETTERS]
17. Artist. In 1976 made an alphabetical list of every word ending in ‘se’ and added an ‘x’, using Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary. Last name only. [4 LETTERS]
20. Curator. Worked at AGNSW (Art Gallery of New South Wales), 1960s, then NGA (National Gallery of Victoria), then AGSA (Art Gallery South Australia). Wrote article on Tony Tuckson, Art & Australia Vol 11, No 3. 1974. Last name only. [6 LETTERS]
21. Artist. Portrait of the artist won Archibald Prize in 1943. Both names. [11 LETTERS]
22. Potter. Patriarch of family of artists. Both names. [10 LETTERS]
24. Sole woman on the first Visual Arts Board in 1973. Both names. [8 LETTERS]
25. Art Dealer, Exhibited John Brack’s ‘Ballroom series’ in 1970. Last name only. [5 LETTERS]
26. Melbourne Gallery. Started in 1978, derived its name from the name of the lane it was situated on. First name only. [7 LETTERS]
27. Arts patrons. Their home on the outskirts of Melbourne in the 40’s became a focus for Australia’s most radical artists, writers and jazz musicians. Last name only. [4 LETTERS]
29. Artist. One man show, Watters Gallery, 1971. ‘Heavy Aesthetic Content’. Last name only. [5 LETTERS]
30. Artist. Opened bookshop and gallery, The Notanda Gallery in 1940 in Sydney. Both names. [9 LETTERS]
32. Artist. Born London 1893. As a result of injuries from WW1 had to learn to paint with left hand. Arrived Australia 1935. Last name only. [7 LETTERS]
34. Artist. Joined English Surrealist Group led by Roland Penrose. Painted The bridge 1945, 69 x 103.5 cms. AGSA (Art Gallery South Australia) on loan. Both names. [9 LETTERS]
38. Magazine. Started in 1940 as a literary magazine. But reproduced many works by artists in sympathy with its radical ideals. 2nd name only. [8 LETTERS]
40. Artist. Created a work Holden park which was 19 colour photographs of FJ Holdens with text. Last name only. [6 LETTERS]
43. Artist. Made a linocut An opera house in every home. Both names. [9 LETTERS]
Sometimes we feel a sensation of freefall, perhaps when looking down from a high-rise building to the street below. We can also see from this perspective in floating views of the landscape from the Japanese Heian period, in the bird’s-eye view used by Australian Aboriginal artists to represent their traditional knowledge of country, and in artworks referencing early wartime aerial photography.1 ‘Limitless Horizon: Vertical Perspective’ which includes a film- and video-screening program, draws on an array of artistic approaches that represent the landscape from above.
The famous 1968 photograph of Earth rising behind the moon, reproduced by artist Kota Ezawa, crystallised the precariousness and fragility of our small planet floating in a vast universe. This lack of a secure footing is represented in Chinese and Japanese landscape painting traditions, where unmoored mountain valleys appear to loom up in the picture plane, and interior scenes are glimpsed through breaks in the clouds. In the eighteenthcentury work Six-fold screen: Cherry blossom at Yasaka Jinja, Kyoto, artist Kawamata Tsunemasa has used a zigzagging planar recession to depict a Shinto shrine. This intense perspective is now ubiquitous to our experience of contemporary megacities. In 1 Parking 2001–02, Junebum Park films the street from such a sharp angle that it appears as if he is manipulating toy-sized cars below with his hands, articulating how the God’s-eye view is synonymous with power.
The increasing sophistication of mapping technology can give us a sense of control over our place in the world, but anyone who has been lost in the desert, at sea, or in a forest will have experienced how easily the scale of the natural world can overwhelm us. Eiichi Tanaka’s photographs of sand dunes on Fraser Island and Helda Groves’s abstract evocation of the ocean floor capture the immensity of the natural landscape and how it can fill our field of vision.
Many of the works in ‘Limitless Horizon’ remind us how concepts of mapping change our perception of a place. Depending on the way we approach the world, we can read the cityscape or the natural landscape as teeming with information or reduced to abstraction. For instance, some viewers see George Tjungurrayi’s optical painting Untitled (Mamultjulkulnga) 2007 as a dizzying abstract pattern, where others see a detailed map that embodies a claypan site at Wilkinkarra (Lake Mackay) on the border of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. In Habitat, on loan from the artist, Taloi Havini uses a range of perspectives to create different associations with the land in and around the Panguna mine in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Succinctly referencing the mine’s history at the centre of a civil war, and as a site of ecological devastation, the scene is captured in sweeping overhead shots that evoke the view from a military helicopter.
Warfare is one of the main drivers of the growing sophistication of mapping technology. Just as aerial photography was refined during World War One, satellite imagery and drone footage dominate the recording of contemporary conflicts. Google Maps reference points are specified by an information architecture established by the US Government. In Propaganda (The red word is Iraq and the rest are saying: we can see you. Don’t use your nuclear or biologicals or chemical weapons!) 2009, Moataz Nasr stitches together images of a satellite, a map, and a human on the ground to bring into focus relationships that have become abstracted by technology. George Barber’s Freestone Drone 2013 is imagined from the point of view of an anthropomorphised drone, whose laconic self-reflection shows him being unresponsive to orders and flying without purpose. The work is a reminder that, while drones may be unmanned, they are still controlled by someone.
Dramatic changes in perspective can prompt us to rethink how we perceive the world. The limitations of representation and the political blinkers shaping our observations are addressed in video works by Nathan Pohio, Mike Parr and Peter Kennedy. In Landfall of a spectre 2007, Pohio mimics a large sea swell by using swaying movements while filming a lenticular print (in which two different images can be seen from different angles) of a colonial ship. Looping endlessly, this ghost ship appears to be forever adrift, unable to claim ground. As Parr pushes a Bolex 16mm camera over a hill, the screen is predominantly filled with blades of grass, with ‘visionary eruptions’ of the sky and the shaky horizon.2 Under such extreme conditions the camera is unable to focus, signalling that, like human vision, there are limits to what it can see. Both of these works create a sense of destabilisation, using the metaphor of vision to shake our assumptions.
The artworks in this exhibition reflect on the way that contemporary discussions about vertical perspective have a precedent in many aesthetic traditions.3 Bringing together a broad range of artworks — videos, paintings and works on paper from contemporary and historical periods, some of which are on loan from the artists — this exhibition connects human vision, mapping and surveillance to encompass broader aesthetic histories and ways of conceptualising the landscape.
At 6.00pm on Wednesday 7 March 2018, join us for a panel discussion which draws together an array of artistic approaches that represent the landscape from a vertical perspective. Dr Mark Pennings, Senior Lecturer, Visual Arts, QUT, Dr Kyle Weise, Curator, Exhibition Program, Metro Arts and Ellie Buttrose, exhibition curator will discuss warfare, its reporting and depiction on screen. Followed by screening of video works by Omer Fast, Harun Farocki and Akram Zaatari.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Australian Cinémathèque at GOMA screens three important video works that address the growth and influence of surveillance in warfare – Omer Fast’s 5,000 Feet is the Best 2011, Akram Zaatari’s Letter to a Refusing Pilot 2013, and Harun Farocki’s Images of the World and the Inscription of War 1988 – as well as a focus on filmmaker and journalist Laura Poitras. Poitras’s documentaries on Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Iraq under US occupation which offer a deeper understanding of global surveillance and its impact on everyday lives. Screenings will take place until 25 March 2018
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1 See Paul Virilio, War and Cinema: The Logistics of Perception, trans. Patrick Camiller, Verso, London and New York, 1989.
2 Mike Parr, in conversation with Stephen Jones, recorded 26 August 2010, quoted in ‘Pushing a camera over a hill: Mike Parr’ in Scanlines: Media Art in Australia Since the 1960s, http://scanlines.net/object/pushing-camera-over-hill, accessed May 2017.
3 Engaging examples include Stephen Graham, Vertical: The City from Satellites to Bunkers, Verso, London and New York, 2016; and Grégoire Chamayou, Drone Theory, trans. Janet Lloyd, Penguin Books, London, 2015.
Ellie Buttrose is Associate Curator, International Contemporary Art, QAGOMA
Feature image detail: Kota Ezawa’s Earth from moon 2006
During the World Science Festival Brisbane 2018, the Australian Cinémathèque at GOMA in partnership with the Queensland Museum will present a program of documentaries and films that reflect on some of the expectations we have of our minds and bodies. These films consider how these expectations can be re-evaluated through deeper scientific understanding. The program includes free screenings for children.
The Empire of Scents Film & Dinner
World Science Festival Brisbane 2018 / Production still from The Empire of Scents 2014 / Director: Kim Nguyen / Image courtesy: Films Transit
The 2014 documentary The Empire of Scents (Wed 21 Mar) poetically captures the profound impact smell has on our memory, emotions and interaction with the each other.
On Saturday 24 March you can see the documentary followed by a specially crafted two-course tasting menu inspired by scent at the GOMA Restaurant. Hear from sensory scientist Dr Sandra Olarte Mantilla (University of Queensland), as well as commentary by guest sommelier Brenton Jull, who together will guide diners through a unique evening of food and wine.
Interesting facts: How do we perceive taste
Besides the five different taste qualities – sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (savory), our other sensations come from food such as cooling from menthol or the burning from chilli.
Another scenario to taste is weather, for example: red wine on a hot day can taste completely different on a cooler day.
GOMA Restaurant, Gallery of Modern Art
Film program curator Rosie Hays talked with Dr Sandra Olarte Mantilla before this event to discuss sensory science and the way we taste and smell.
Rosie Hays | How do we perceive the things that we taste?
Sandra Olarte Mantilla | In everyday life we perceive taste and odour from the foods that we eat. However, taste and odour are perceived through different mechanisms. The different five taste qualities (sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami) are perceived thought the different receptors that are located in our taste buds. The odour or smell comes from the volatile compounds found in the foods that we eat. We can detect the odours of these chemical compounds via the nose (by aspiration) or via the odours of the food that is in the mouth. We can also perceive other sensations from food such as the cooling from menthol or the burning from chilli. These sensations are due to the stimulation different foods can induce on trigeminal nerves. The interaction of the taste odour and the stimulation of trigeminal nerves from foods results in the flavours that we perceive from food.
RH | How important is context to what we taste? You sometimes carry out studies in a laboratory setting and sometimes in a restaurant. What impact does this have?
SOM | Context is very important not only to what we taste in real life but also for our experiments in the laboratory with consumers because ultimately we are part of a production chain that is creating real products for real people. When we conduct a taste test session in the laboratory and ask consumers to rate their acceptability for a series of products they might rate some very low. However, it could be that if the test is conducted in the normal consuming scenario the consumers might score that product higher. Another context scenario is weather, if we ask our consumers to taste a red wine in a hot day their ratings might be completely different to what they will score in a cooler day. However, conducting taste test experiments in real life consuming scenarios also presents some challenges, as the conditions might not be under scientifically controlled experimental conditions. Other options that sensory scientist have to mitigate the context effect is to mimic real life consuming scenarios where experimental conditions can be controlled.
RH | ‘The Empire of Scents’ interviews a range of subjects who describe the way scent has shaped their lives. How does the documentary relate to the work you do?
SOM | The Empire of Scents is relevant to the work that we do, as we, as sensory scientists at QAAFI (Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation) together with our trained panel, are constantly tasting and describing sensory properties of products. During the tasting sessions, each of the twelve individuals of our trained panel is reaching into their memory banks to find words from their own experience to describe the sensory attributes (aroma, appearance, taste, texture) of the products that are in front of them.
It was also interesting to see that some of the people in The Empire of Scents were drawn to particular aromas – rosemary, wine, truffle, ocean breeze – which shows how different as individuals we all are. The ability to detect certain aromas could be due to our individual physiological differences. The physiological differences that make us be able to detect certain aromas or tastes easier than other people is the focus of our current research.
FOOD AND FILM: The Empire of Scents
In partnership with the World Science Festival Brisbane, GOMA Restaurant and the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA are hosting a special cinema and dining experience on Saturday 24 March.The evening will commence with a screening of The Empire of Scents 2014 at 4:30pm, a cinematic experience which poetically captures the profound impact smell has on our memory, emotions and interaction with each other, and our relationship with food. The screening will be followed by a specially crafted two-course tasting menu from 6.00pm inspired by scent at the GOMA Restaurant. Hear from sensory scientist Dr Sandra Olarte Mantilla (University of Queensland), as well as commentary by guest sommelier Brenton Jull (BJ), who together will guide diners through a unique evening of food and wine.
Two course tasting menu with matched wines will be revealed on the night
$107 (QAGOMA Members $96). Reservations required
Film: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Production still from The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 2017 / Director: George C. Wolfe
The World Science Festival Brisbane film program includes a free special screening of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 2017 (Sun 25 Mar) with a talk by Professor Jennifer Stow from the Institute of Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland who will discuss the incredible impact Henrietta Lacks’s cells have had on cancer research. Oprah Winfrey shines in a spectacular lead performance in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Told through the eyes of her daughter, Deborah Lacks (Winfrey), the film chronicles her search, aided by journalist Rebecca Skloot (Rose Byrne), to learn about the mother she never knew and to understand how the unauthorized harvesting of Lacks’ cancerous cells in 1951 led to unprecedented medical breakthroughs, changing countless lives and the face of medicine forever.
EXPLORE more Cinémathèque programs
Rosie Hays is Associate Curator, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA
Dr Sandra Orlarte Matilla is a Sensory & Consumer scientist working as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Queensland in the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI). Sandra started her career as a Sensory & Consumer Scientist ten years ago when she started her PhD in Wine science at the University of Adelaide.
Feature image: Saffron harvesting. Production still from The Empire of Scents 2014 / Director: Kim Nguyen / Image courtesy: Films Transit
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we profile Judy Watson’s sacred ground beating heart 1989. Her work which includes drawing, printmaking, painting and sculpture all reference an Indigenous connection to land and history. Recently Watson won The Queensland Indigenous Artist Public Art Commission 2016 for her bronze sculpture tow row (illustrated), which is permanently installed at the entrance to the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA).
Born at Mundubbera, west of Maryborough, in south-east Queensland, the spirit and substance of her work is sourced in the homeland of her grandmother and great grandmother, a descendant of the Waanyi people of north-west Queensland.
Watson’s canvases are not paintings in the classical traditions of European art, they remain unstretched when exhibited, usually pinned to the wall as is sacred ground beating heart.
sacred ground beating heart
Through paint and pigment, Judy Watson offers evidence of intimate encounters with the heat, air, moisture and pulse of the earth – the geographical emblems of her heartland. These emblems are linked with Australian Aboriginal totemic beings or culture heroes, who metamorphosed into landscape features, such as hills and rocks, and who continue to manifest their presence in meteorological or astral phenomena.
The unstretched canvas has been stained by layers of wet and dry pigment, creating a velvety, sensuous surface, which is then marked by distinct touches of colour. The imagery suggests an aerial perspective of parched land, a depiction of distant homelands or a material translation of an emotional state.
Australian Art / Judy Watson discusses 'sacred ground beating heart' - YouTube
In tow row 2016, Judy Watson has responded to our GOMA site close to the Brisbane River. Referencing woven nets used by Aboriginal people of the area she acknowledges the traditional owners of the site and their everyday fishing activities on the river and local saltwater waterways. Watch our documentary as Watson discusses her inspiration for the bronze sculpture.
Australian Art / Judy Watson introduces 'tow row' - YouTube
We’re closer to nuclear destruction than ever. ‘Two Minutes to Midnight: Nuclear Cinema’ is a free cinema program that brings together a collection of nuclear-themed films to explore how filmmakers have responded to one of the greatest scientific and moral quandaries of the last century.
The program offers a collection of films that act as timely and timeless reminders of the enormous power that comes from humanity’s harnessing of nuclear energy. It opens Friday 2 March 2018 with a double feature of Barefoot Gen 1983 (6.00pm) and Shin Godzilla 2016 (7.45pm), then at 2.00pm on Saturday join author and academic Mick Broderick for an illustrated talk on the history and development of nuclear cinema followed with a screening of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb 1964 (3.30pm). The film program closes on Sunday 18 March with When the Wind Blows 1986 and The Land of Hope 2012. Visit ‘Two Minutes to Midnight: Nuclear Cinema’ for all screenings.
Interesting facts: Dr Strangelove
Stanley Kubrick actually made plans to move to Australia in the early 1960s to avoid the possibility of nuclear war in the Northern Hemisphere, according to documents uncovered by Associate Professor Mick Broderick of Murdoch University – who will be delivering the free lecture on Nuclear Cinema as part of this program.
The film has one of the most famous cut scenes in cinema history, with the original ending being an enormous pie fight that was shot but eventually decided by Kubrick to be too silly for the film’s otherwise caustically satirical tone.
Peter Sellers’ iconic triple role was originally intended to be a quadruple part, with the actor initially also cast in the role of Major Kong, before a broken ankle meant he couldn’t spend the hours required in the cockpit set.
Production still from Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb 1964 / Director: Stanley Kubrick / Image courtesy: Park Circus
Adapted from the classic manga series by Keiji Nakazawa, Barefoot Gen 1983 is a heartbreaking, beautifully rendered story of one boy’s experience of the Hiroshima bombing on 1945.
Production still from Barefoot Gen 1983 / Director: Mori Masaki / Image courtesy: Madhouse
Shin Godzilla 2016 tears apart Tokyo while offering incisive commentary on the Japanese government’s handling of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The film is the most recent live-action entry in the long-running Godzilla franchise and it showcases a return to the original 1954 film’s pointed political commentary.
Production still from Shin Godzilla 2016 / Directors: Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi / Image courtesy: Madman Entertainment
Shortly after the unprecedented atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the Second World War, filmmakers began to play out nuclear scenarios in their works – crafting tales of survival in destroyed worlds and using the new Atomic Age to inform the language of science fiction. In America, the heightening of the Cold War gave rise to a greater number of paranoid thrillers that played out scenarios of deadly human error, cover-ups, and bumbling bureaucracy. Grim depictions of ‘what if’ scenarios emerged with increasing verisimilitude, acting as defiant rebukes to warmongering states and complicit publics by showcasing the destructive capabilities of nuclear weaponry.
The end of the Cold War appeared to lend some reprieve to such concerns, with a sharp drop off in major nuclear themed films in the 1990s, however the continuing build-up of global stockpiles, along with a slowly growing list of nuclear armed states and major catastrophes such as the 2011 Fukushima disaster, have brought the issue back to the fore.
And now, as of February 2018, the symbolic Doomsday Clock which represents the end of human civilisation has been returned to two minutes to midnight – the closest it has been to midnight since 1953. When the clock was created in 1947, it was set seven minutes to midnight.
The films in this program encompasses multiple genres and styles – from heart-wrenching anime (Barefoot Gen 1983), to uncompromising portraits of desolated cities (Threads 1984), to the strange and libidinous sci-fi of Ralph Bakshi (Wizards 1977). Both The Atomic Café 1982 and The Bomb 2016 utilise only pre-existing footage – newsreels, propaganda shorts, test footage, instructional videos – to offer incisive commentary through their mesmerising collage forms.
More locally, the Australian film Ground Zero 1987 dives into the long-hidden history of the British nuclear testing that took place in South Australia’s Maralinga, while the location shooting of On the Beach 1959 offers a glimpse of Melbourne in the late 1950s.
For more than half a century, international artist James Turrell (United States, b.1943) has worked with light and space to create immersive and moving artworks that play with viewers’ perceptions.
james Turrell’s major light installation will illuminate the facade of GOMA from 7.00pm on Friday 20 April 2018
QAGOMA Director Chris Saines confirmed the eastern and southern facades of the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) would be completely transformed from dusk until 12 midnight daily by the ambitious, much anticipated new light installation.
You are invited to join us from 7.00pm on Friday 20 April 2018 to experience first-hand Turrell’s artwork – an ever-evolving pattern of intensifying and diffusing coloured light. The activation of Turrell’s artwork onsite is a unique milestone in the history of GOMA, the Queensland Cultural Centre and Brisbane. Turrell will be joining us for this momentous occasion, a public celebration on the Maiwar Green lawn outside GOMA.
James Turrell’s architectural light installation at GOMA will launch at dusk on Friday 20 April 2018
The Gallery of Modern Art currently at dusk
During the development of GOMA, lead architects Kerry Clare, Lindsay Clare and James Jones envisaged an artist-illuminated ‘white box’ on the Gallery’s main pedestrian approaches. More than a decade on, Turrell’s architectural light installation realises the potential of GOMA’s white box façade, and completes a major aspect of the architects’ original design intention.
This work will transform the way local, interstate and international audiences experience the building at night. Turrell’s large-scale luminous installation for GOMA is a first for the artist and unique in terms of the many other light works he has created in and on buildings and within the landscape around the world. The installation is a fantastic addition to GOMA and will further enhance it’s reputation as a world-class cultural tourism destination.
The Queensland Government has contributed funds towards the development of this ambitious commission and QAGOMA has also received an outstanding lead donation from Paul and Susan Taylor, along with generous contributions from The Neilson Foundation and donors to the 2017 QAGOMA Foundation Appeal to realise this iconic addition to Brisbane’s cityscape.
Feature image: Indicative image of James Turrell’s architectural light installation at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)
From 24 March 2018, GOMA will host its largest solo exhibition devoted to an Australian artist. Patricia Piccinini’s complex offspring, and some unusual new siblings, will come together for ‘Curious Affection’, comprising sculpture, photography, video, drawing and large-scale installations.
Gabriella Coslovich recently met the artist, and several of her creations, at her Melbourne studio.
Patricia Piccinini invites you to 'Curious Affection' at GOMA - YouTube
Under a crisp blanket of brown wrapping paper lies a red-haired, ape-like creature, cradling a seemingly human baby to her chest (Illustrated). I look into the creature’s warm, hazel eyes and see a mix of resignation, benevolence and sadness. ‘This is a blended family’, explains the creature’s creator, Patricia Piccinini, in her soft, light voice. ‘She is a transgenic creature . . . She’s part human, part orangutan, and her baby is more human but a little orangutan’, she says, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. ‘Isn’t she beautiful?’, coos Roger Moll, Piccinini’s studio manager, as the three of us peer under the crinkly paper at this mysterious, maternal figure. ‘You don’t think “beautiful” is the right word?’, he prods when I struggle to answer. She is, I suppose, beautiful, in the weird, disturbing way that we have come to expect from Piccinini’s work. There is beauty in the creature’s humanity, in her kind and sage expression — and in Piccinini’s visible affection for this life-like fusion of human and ape. What is the creature’s story? Is she man-made? Created purely for her use to human beings? A surrogate? Why else the sadness in her eyes? Instinctively, one seeks a narrative for this strange, soulful beast, who reminds us, uncannily, of our own animal nature.
From the moment Piccinini burst onto the contemporary art scene with works such as 1997’s ‘Protein lattice’ series (unforgettable images of physically perfect women posing with hairless mice sporting ears growing out of their backs), she has probed humanity’s desire to control and manipulate the natural world. For 20 years, her creations have straddled science fact and fiction, born of the artist’s rich imagination and her desire to question — but not judge — developments in biotechnology, genetic engineering and other fields. Many of her works are instantly recognisable, seared into the public’s imagination, such as The Young Family 2002 (Illustrated), her famed depiction of a placid, curled up creature with long floppy ears, pups suckling at her teats; or The Carrier 2013 (Illustrated), of a fragile elderly woman being carried by a mellow-looking man-beast, hairy of body and balding of head.
‘Curious Affection‘ features major new commissions alongside significant works from the past 15 years, and has inspired new scholarship in an exhibition publication of the same name. When we spoke, some months out from the opening, Piccinini and her small team of technicians — 3-D modellers, sculptors, mould makers, skin casters and hair punchers — were busy putting the final touches to new work, indeed, to what will become entire new worlds. ‘It’s a family reunion’, Piccinini says, as she introduces me to the new family members taking shape in her vast, rambling studio, a former clothing factory in a narrow backstreet in the inner-city Melbourne suburb of Collingwood.
Piccinini’s studio is a wonderland of weirdness: I have seen a muscular human torso with a fan of elbows emerging from its side; reference photos of skin texture, colour and discolouration; silicone moulds for the faces of two transgenic lovers, perhaps part human, part chimp; and a very short, impish chap called ‘the pollinator’, with eyes as large and round as a kewpie doll’s and a luxuriant cape of red hair cascading from his body. ‘It’s real hair and it’s punched in one at a time,’ Piccinini says, admiring the pollinator’s long, bodily locks.
The pollinator’s arms are raised, and his hands are long and thin, ready to pollinate — they will eventually hook into a surreal sculpture of disembodied, ballerina-lithe legs in an almost arabesque pose. At the time of writing, the legs were lurking in the front office of Piccinini’s warehouse studio, waiting to be joined to the impish creature. ‘Nature has the most extraordinary ways of reproducing itself, and a lot of it is cooperative’, Piccinini says. ‘I’m interested in how we all co-exist and are connected, especially through this process of reproduction and how awe-inspiring it is and how we live amongst it.’
Like much of Piccinini’s work, the pollinator was inspired by the natural world, and yet it goes beyond the natural, prompting us to consider new possibilities and to ask: what responsibility must we take for our creations? Piccinini sees her works as catalysts for discussion — she does not take sides, nor does she tell people what to think: ‘I expect people to look at them and then in their own lives respond, whether it be how they raise their children, or how they act at work, whatever it is, and that’s what builds culture’. She leads me up steep wooden stairs to a small mezzanine where one of her technicians, Liz Rule, is meticulously inserting hair, one strand at a time, into the head of one of the transgenic lovers whose casts I saw downstairs.
‘You can’t make a work like this without care and thought’, Piccinini says, admiring Rule’s handiwork. ‘Look at these softies’, she says, pointing out the short, fluffy hairs that appear around the creature’s hairline, just as they do along the hairline of humans. ‘Well,’ Rule explains, ‘I was looking at your softies yesterday and I was thinking I must put some in’. Rule has worked for Piccinini for eight years, and the two have become solid friends. At her feet, a little wire-haired dog sleeps peacefully, oblivious to the round-faced, pig-featured, teenage boy with fine golden hair lying on the floor nearby. His back has an armadillolike covering that mimics the patterns of a sandshoe’s sole. ‘He’s so cute and lovely with his beautiful golden hair . . . He’s a wonder of nature’, Piccinini says tenderly. Once again, I’m caught with a quizzical look on my face. ‘What are you thinking?’, Rule asks. I confess that I’m finding it hard to be charmed by the teenage boy–pig. ‘You may be repulsed by this, but you won’t be repulsed by what Patricia’s trying to say’, Rule suggests.
This bizarre amalgam of organic and inorganic body parts, titled Teenage Metamorphosis (Illustrated), is not so far from reality. A team of US scientists recently developed the first human–pig hybrids in a move that could eventually lead to these hybrid creatures being used to farm organs for humans. As ever, Piccinini’s work has its eye on contemporary developments and explores the implications of such breakthroughs. Her answers are never straightforward. Piccinini’s work has the capacity to elicit radically different emotions: delight, compassion, intrigue, and, yes, repulsion. While it’s often discussed in relation to advances in science and technology, perhaps less noted is her work’s ability to engender empathy and acceptance of difference. What exactly is ‘normal’ and who decides? Why do I fear what I fear? These are the questions that are continually raised by her work, and they’re questions of great relevance today. ‘How we relate to difference is a pivotal theme in my work’, Piccinini says.
It’s a huge thing. You’re pulled in because you’re intrigued and you see the warmth and connection between these characters, but at the same time you’re pushed away because they’re unfamiliar and unknown, it’s not right, it’s not natural. This dynamic opens up a space for you to be really present and say, “Well, what do I actually think here, and what do I actually feel?”
At 52, Piccinini has a childlike curiosity and dreaminess. She speaks with quiet conviction about her work and is not interested in the ironic posturing of postmodernism; she doesn’t want to alienate those who aren’t in on the joke. Her work, she says, is ‘warm’, ‘a beautifully crafted love letter’ inviting people into her ‘dream landscape’. At GOMA, that landscape will include a field of 3000 transgenic flowers, each a metre high, that appear to be cultivating human organs; a grotto filled with 700 porcelain ‘mushroom bats’, and an abstract inflatable work that will rise up over three floors of GOMA. The inflatable follows on from Piccinini’s controversial Skywhale, a huge hot-air balloon of a whale with many pendulous breasts, commissioned for the Centenary of Canberra in 2013.
For Peter McKay, GOMA’s Curator of Contemporary Australian Art, Piccinini is a weaver of contemporary fables, a storyteller whose works may potentially offer lessons to those prepared to spend time with them. ‘They’re enchanting, too,’ he says. ‘They make us realise what it is to be alive. It’s not every
artist that can do that, or even thinks about that kind of thing.’ From the outside, it may seem as though Patricia Piccinini has never been far from the artistic limelight — she represented Australia at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, and her work has been exhibited in museums around the world. But the reality is not so simple. As she has said:
It is a life where there is not a lot of security, and that’s why I try and make the most of every opportunity. But at the same time it has been a life where I get to be one of the meaning makers. I’m part of the meaning-making process in this culture. We can’t just get all our meaning from politics or from science. It’s a great privilege and I don’t take it for granted.
Gabriella Coslovich is a Melbourne author and freelance writer specialising in the arts. Her debut book, Whiteley on Trial, about Australia’s most extraordinary case of alleged art fraud, was published by Melbourne University Press in October.
Extract from ‘A wonderland of weirdness’ by Gabriella Coslovich published in the Gallery’s Artlines magazine, issue 1, 2018
This exhibition catalogue explores the artist’s exciting new commissions, as well as significant works produced over the last 20 years. New scholarship by Dr Elizabeth Finkel (Cosmos Magazine) and Professor Rosi Braidotti, a pioneer in European women’s studies, together with a curatorial overview by Peter McKay, Exhibition Curator, QAGOMA, explores the artist’s groundbreaking artworks and ideas. The volume also features ‘Familiar’, a short story by award-winning author China Miéville. This informative 200pp publication is filled with stunning installation photography of the artist’s GOMA exhibition. Pre-order your copy of Patricia Piccinini: Curious Affection.
exclusive to brisbane
‘Patricia Piccinini: Curious Affection‘ is exclusive to Brisbane at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) from Saturday 24 March until Sunday 5 August 2018. Patricia Piccinini presents a keynote address on Saturday of the opening weekend at 11.00am, followed by an In-conversation at 1.30pm and artist tour of the exhibition at 2.30pm. Tickets for ‘Curious Affection‘ are on sale now.
With the start of the Lunar New Year we profile Ai Weiwei’s ceramic urns from our collection, we’re inspired by the Jade Emperor creation myth where the first humans were fashioned from clay and left to harden in the sun.
Ceramics have played important practical, social, and cultural roles for tens of thousands of years. Early pottery traditions have been studied and admired for their technological advances and remain an indicator of societal evolution, marking the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture. From Neolithic times pottery has incorporated aesthetic modifications, providing the foundation for an extraordinary range of designs that have influenced the development of subsequent artistic media.
Many ceramic forms continue to be based on utility; however the medium has also been used for a variety of artistic purposes. Contemporary artists have also looked to long-established ceramic traditions – Ai Weiwei manipulates Chinese Neolithic vessels to intervene with the passage of time, questioning value and aesthetic meaning throughout history
Neolithic Chinese pots are admired for their refined shape, elegant proportions and ancient patinas. For the modern collector, the values and meanings attached to these objects are vested not only in aesthetic characteristics, but also in their unique cultural authority as evidence of one the greatest epochs in China’s long history.
In Painted vases 2006, Ai Weiwei has performed a radical act in transforming these traditionally monochromatic objects into a brightly coloured array. He says of this action that it is ‘powerful only because someone thinks it’s powerful and invests value in the object’. The urns are valuable because the arbiters of taste and the art market have determined that this is so. In this work, the meaning and value of the urns is transformed and co-opted into a contemporary work that subverts and disrupts the prevailing value system to which it previously belonged.
Feature image detail: Ai Weiwei’s Painted vases 2006
With Valentine’s Day almost upon us, we look at two works currently on display with romance as their underlying subject – at the Gallery we believe that love conquers all barriers – and that is the way it should be – so why not share your Valentine’s Day visit with us, and if you just happen to come across these works by Arthur Boyd or Chester Earles, here are some interesting facts you could use to impress.
If you would like to continue you Gallery experience over dinner, join us for an exquisite four course dining experience on Valentine’s Day at the GOMA Restaurant.
The lady and the unicorn
Arthur Boyd’s etchings for The lady and the unicorn (portfolio) 1975 reveal a mastery of arabesque line and fine detail in drawing combined with velvety black aquatint that shifts in tone. Boyd created these powerful, dream-like compositions in a series of inter-related scenes including ‘The unicorn sees the lady’, ‘The unicorn’s love dance. The lady’s acceptance’ and ‘The unicorn in love’.
In the portfolio, the unicorn is shown to be a powerful regenerative force – the unicorn falls in love with the lady and she with him… but eventually betrays him. Sadly, hunted down, the unicorn dies for love. Yet he remains a symbol of undying purity and compassion. Boyd creates something potent in this powerful series of etchings – there is anger and anguish in these works, but also a sense of joy and empathy.
The love story is based on a medieval tale that has moved musicians, poets, novelists and artists for centuries. The lady and the unicorn c.1500, a beautiful set of medieval tapestries on this theme are housed in the Musée de Cluny in Paris and were a direct inspiration for Boyd. Their topic – earthly pleasures and courtly culture, each depict one of the senses: Touch, Taste, Smell, Hearing and Sight.
Interior with figures 1872 is the most notable example of Chester Earles work in an Australian public collection. It’s a fine example of Victorian figurative painting, for which Earles was regularly praised when most artists in Australia were already turning to landscape.
It is a courtship picture, perhaps even a proposal, with an unmarried young woman receiving the advances of an evidently worthy man under the approving gaze of a chaperone – you decide.
At the heart of the picture is a tension between the ostensibly romantic subject, and the prevailing anxiety of the period about successful financial provision for gentlewomen: the Married Women’s Property Act wasn’t passed until 1890. The women in the painting are clearly ladies, with evidence of their accomplishments close at hand in the books and fine stitching with which they occupy themselves – the young lady is holding a piece of tatting or lace, similar to the fine lace adorning her dress and thus advertising her refinements of person and skill. As no pater familias is present in this transaction, the viewer is invited to speculate on the social circumstances surrounding the scene and the importance of its eventual outcome.
Chester Earles, Australia 1821-1905 / Interior with figures 1872 / Oil on canvas on board / Gift of Joseph Brown Gallery 1997 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
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Feature image detail: Arthur Boyd’s The lady and the unicorn (portfolio) ‘The unicorn sees the lady’ 1975