Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Archibalds at Mornington

On Saturday I went to the Mornington Gallery to see the travelling Archibald Exhibition. Last year I missed out at Tarra Warra because we hadn’t booked and turned up on the last weekend and couldn't get within spit of the place.
This time we booked the first session of Saturday morning and arrived in sunny but chilly conditions. We were marshalled to our parking spot by the fine Rotary volunteers whose blood is worth bottling. If you are going there anytime soon, please thank them for their work. They stand there cheerfully through all weather just so that you can have a streamlined experience.

The exhibition was in a spacious gallery with great lighting and even though we were there before the crowds (highly recommended that!) there was plenty of room for viewing and some seating to sit and admire paintings from a distance. I always like to get up close and read the artist information but it is important to stand back and view as well as scan the display to help to anticipate those paintings which really grab your attention.

Kathryn Del Barton’s painting of Hugo Weaving won the Archibald and it is so obviously a painting by her hand.

It is not a style I particularly like though that is just personal opinion. I bristled a little at the appropriation of aboriginal dot painting which makes up about one third of the image simply because I do not understand its purpose or whether it adds real meaning to the painting.
I loved Joshua McPherson’s portrait of Ella ( a child actress) for its straightforward beauty.
Abdul Abdullah’s portrait of Tony Mundine called The Man shines in the space and I believe it will go onto become an iconic image in Archibald history.

Sally Ryan’s classical portraiture of Dr Catherine Hamlin is a fitting and dignified portrait of such a wonderful and wise woman and shows warmth and respect.

I would love to know more about Pilbara Land Council Representative, Wilfrid Hicks portrayed by Julie Dowling. His eyes are engaging warm and full of humanity.

Michael Stavros Painting Bad Dad evoked images of the TV series The Slap (just in my weird head) and was fascinating and beautiful.
I was intrigued and moved by Guy Morgan’s self portrait with Peter Pan after Retinal Detachment. It is strongly coloured like a print but up close the whole background is dotted with fine splattered ground which is apparently applied with an eye dropper. He described the moment of his retinal detachment as a sensation of light popping and sparking and I could identify with it intensely having ruptured my eardrum on a number of occasions and if I could have painted the experience, that was true for me, like a blown fuse misfiring. The sensation of the experience while viewing the image was strong and appalling as my sight is something I would miss so much.
Mertim Gokalp’s painting of Billie Brown is powerful and conveys a lot about the calibre of a man who has come here as a very recent immigrant and in a short time made a connection with an Australian actor at the end of his life and revealed him to us in such a new and profound way.

Jules Francois Archibald set up the trust in 1920 which enables The Archibald to be awarded each year.
The conditions of the Trust read
‘I direct my Trustees... to provide an annual prize to be styled “The Archibald Prize” for the best portrait preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in Arts Letters Science or Politics painted by any artist resident in Australasia during the twelve months preceding the date fixed by the Trustees...’
So it is very loose interpretation of the rules to allow Carlos Pagoda’s painting of his father a 97 year old uneducated self sufficient gardener to be a part of the exhibiton.
 It is a fantastic and unique painting of a no doubt unique man but in my mind does not qualify for entry. If his father were famous for disseminating his garden styles I believe it would be a different matter. But then again the Archibalds have always been full of controversy.
Maybe one year I will have a go. Here's one of my son of many persuasive words and if I had had my say he would be a garrulous lawyer!

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