Thursday, August 19, 2010

A day at the NSW Art Gallery: Path to Abstraction

One of the fav pasttime I had in Sydney which I am rather deprived in HK is visiting the Art Galleries. Asia for some reason just isnt into arts in particular. Maybe they find it boring to stare at some 2 dimension artwork and canx relate to it. I really enjoyed this exhibit. It was refreshing to see a collection solely dedicated to the abstract art and seeing some work I havent come across reading before.

The Path to Abstraction in NSW Art Gallery is a paid exhibit (A$20) and worthy of every penny. Abstract art isnt one of my fav "period" but it was interestingly the founding block to all the amazing motifs artwork we see today. There are varied versions of abstract form, from 2-D to 3-D. This exhibition focuses more on the 2D aspect with famous works from Edvard Munch, Monet, Picasso, Kandinsky, Cezanne and more.

When I was "forced" to "study" the art history back then, a century full of works per academic year, it wasnt quite enjoyable honestly. Faced with all the foreign names, times and years, their personality, their background history, the influences, their thoughts, the art culture surrounding and oppression etc... it was hell of a lot to remember and digest for a teen. Looking back, while I certainly enjoyed reading those movements that had interested me, it was rather a torture to read on about periods i didnt care much about, least of all to do a critic on them. Even so, looking back, I certainly missed those days pouring over those huge gigantic heavy artbooks. perhaps if I wasnt bogged down with 8 other core subjects, I would have certainly enjoyed myself much more....

Fast forwarding to present, it's a completely different feeling visiting the museums now and looking at the original artorks. The art landscape has completely transformed to somewhat unrecognisable form from the past.  While I had survived upon then were albums and albums of "reprinted" copies and photos, it just wasnt the same looking at the real thing. If you were to look at a picture of "Sailboats on the Seine" (below) and the real thing, the impact is completely different! The depth, the vibrance, the just so darn different. I was bewitched and could just stare for half hour at the artpiece in the exhibit but I prob wont pause more than a min looking at it in the book.

I'm not trying to sound snotty nor arty farty but art galleries are really good for the soul. As you examine each art work, you get a sense of the period, and the emotional thoughts that the artist tries to convey. I will be the first to confess that not every art piece attracts me the same way, nor do I spend alot of time on every art piece. Some I simply skim through, even if it is some supposed masterpiece. Take Cezanne for example, while famous, I have never liked his works back then, right now and probably not in the future. I simply cannot "connect" to it as I can for my quirky favs such as Joan Miro, S Dali, Claes Oldenburg, Edvard Munch etc.

What is interesting about an artwork, is how it plays with the angles and lighting. It isnt just "Mona Lisa" that stares right back at you from different angles, many great pieces does that do, even with just paper and black crayon pencil.

People sees or not see different things in one same piece. Sometimes, you either see it or you dont. After strolling thru the whole paid exhibit, I was sharing with my partner how I really like paintings by Edvard Munch. Some of his works are so simple yet impactful with the whole 2 tone treatment. It isnt just the famous piece "The Scream."

That actually wasnt my favourite though it certainly was a good piece to write a 6 piece essay on. His other pieces less renowned were actually pretty amazing in invoking one's senses too such as the one below titled "Young girl on the Jetty".

My partner prefer the brighter more simplistic work of Monet. I like Monet but he doesnt comes as my top favs because his works doesnt carry the provocative edge and emotional depth that reaches out to me.

The one art piece that I have always wanted to see in person but have yet to is the artwork "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" by George Seurat. It is one classic painstakingly colourful piece that was completed in a span of 2 years using pointillism - simply put - an art piece done by points of the brush. The first time I had read about it, I was utterly impressed by the ingeunity and patience by the artist. I have always imagined how it must look in real life.

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