Zero dark thirty – so boring

I gave up watching this film after 45 minutes. It was so boring. The dialogue seemed predictable. The torture scenes again while awful were what I expected and the hard unquestioning nastiness of the good guys mad the bit I watched a complete turn off. Maybe if I knew nothing before I watched, it would not have been so bad. I expected some exhilaration or some interest but all I got was an intense sense of boredom.

Pre Raphaelites on TV

File:John Everett Millais - Christ in the House of His Parents (`The Carpenter's Shop') - Google Art Project.jpg

Sometimes I catch a fascinating TV documentary Today it was on the artistic movement the Pre-Raphaelites. What a rich story of art,artists, power, patronage and social change. A small group of outsiders identified a lock on artistic expression by artistic leadership. They sought to break out through creating a realist approach to both religious and secular subject matter. Kept as outsiders till an article in the Times by cultural patron John Ruskin.they emerged to shake up artistic expression that still has influence today.

Above is Jesus in the house of his parents painted in mid 1800s, It shocked the religious people and the art in-crowd because of its realism. I saw a multi-part dramatic reenactment of this group on TV years ago and was impressed to find out at that time that Andrew Lloyd Weber was an enthusiastic collector of this style of art. Long live those who challenge constricting orthodoxy. The drama series is back on Wednesday morning at 12.35am on ABC 1. It is called Desperate Romantics.

Steve Harris and Crispin Akerman – Two still life exhibitions

Two recent exhibitions in Canberra recently demonstrated the similarities and range available in contemporary still life painting. Harris has a great commitment to rich vibrant colours and objects with striking textures. His traditional still life paintings are small in comparison to his stylized water centred landscapes but both maintain the strong colour palette. Steve Harris was exhibited at the Paintbox Gallery in Braddon. Crispin Akerman has a much more washed out Australian tone to the colours in  his set of still life paintings on display in February at the Beaver Gallery. His integration of classic containers and interesting foliage make for attractive images.

The website for Steve Harris is:

The website for Crispin Akerman:

Khmer Rouge Art of Bun Heang Ung

Black and white drawings often convey awful human experiences with dramatic clarity. The collection of the drawings created by Ben Heang Ung covering the harrowing period of Cambodian history during the Khmer Rouge rule, do just that. The remarkable 90 creations tell harrowing stories of the lives of people during a time when 2.2 million people lost their lives. I hope that the ANU acts quickly to mount a public exhibition of these in large print form in one of their galleries.

Below is a link to a digital set of drawings now held at the ANU donated by the Cambodian born artist Bun Heang Ung.

Tropfest 2013

One of my favourite events of the year is to sit in Commonwealth Park and watch the 16 short films that make up the Tropfest. Every year the films engage and amuse us with enjoyable creativity.  The winner was a complex weave of what seemed like random people doing good and being blessed randomly with a great tie together at the end. That film seemed to pair with The Hustle which was a pub pool game hustle with a twist.

There were less animations this year but the collection seemed to have a vitality ranging from a gangster film using water guns to a remarkable film around a children’s stuffed toy.I hope the free DVD in the Sydney Morning Herald appears on Saturday.

The tropfest website was not up to date when I wrote but the link is below

The winner link

Kastom – Art of Vanuatu @ NGA

There is a gorgeous new exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) which opened this week featuring a diverse range of sculptures and other art forms made from a limited range of natural materials. What Vanuatu artists do with tree fern, wood, ochre and Pandanus fibre is wonderful. The sculptures carry cultural significance. The term Kustom is explained on one of the panels as being a process whereby citizens grow in social status through cultural activities.

One of the truly engaging parts of the exhibition is a large flat screen on the floor showing a movie of a teenager creating a set of sand drawings in front of you. She draws a framework and then creates a balanced set of flowing symmetrical forms around the centre.

The NGA does a great job of these small exhibitions which have been done at a much faster rate since the current director Ron Radford came to Canberra. The disappointing feature of most of their exhibitions is that unless you buy the glossy full catalogue there is no printed information to take away. The policy on photographs is so extreme at the NGA that I feel I will be marched to the door if I take a shot of any of the information panels.

The panels are excellent and give a good context to the content. The sad thin is the usual lack of information on the website. Check out what is there-



First Ladies

The image above is one of the striking portraits that is part of the First Ladies exhibitions.

A delightful small exhibition of portraits of some Australian women who have achieved significant firsts is on at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG). The portraits are linked with timeline information on the wall tying the exhibition together.
A wide range of women are included in a great range of media. The blessing of using only 26 portraits made it easy for those of us who like reading all the wall panels.
The great thing about the NPG is they supplement the exhibition. For those who come to the gallery they have published an informative brochure with full biographies on all the women. For people who do not make it to the exhibition backed by a great section of their website that includes all the biographies and timelines with pictures included.

The exhibition is part of the Canberra 100 programs.

The section of the website is on this link:

Behind the Lines @ MOAD

Political cartoons in Australia have long been an engaging art form. They are often brutal, sometimes ugly but always anchored in the moment of social change. Each year the Behind the lines exhibition puts on display a collection of the best cartoons drawn mainly from the daily newspapers over the previous year. In recent year the exhibition has found a home in the downstairs central corridors of Old Parliament House in Canberra. The magic of going to the exhibition rather than seeing it on line at the link below is the size and spacing of the layout. I always leave with a sense of admiration for these artists who combine diverse visual skills with a fun insight to the human foibles of our political and public leaders.

The exhibition link is below.

Remembering Me @ AWM

Prints from glass plates found in a French village of Vignacourt are the drivers of a great exhibition currently on at the Australian War Memorial. The exhibition consists mainly of I guess 70 black and white large prints of people (mainly men) photographed while on breaks from the trench warfare nearby. The incongruity of each of these theatrically posed prints involving cleaned up men from the squalid blood soaked slaughter grounds of France is immense.

As part of the lead up to the anniversary marking 100 years since the start of WW1, the photos present a wonderful inight to a side of the war I have only been exposed to through the Kahn collection. The exhibition is in the downstairs central temporary exhibition space at the AWM and is on till July 2013.

Link to the AWM page.

David Bromley at the Hyatt

I had not been aware of David Bromley till the weekend of February 8-10 2013, The exhibition at the Hyatt was full of happy, nostalgic exuberance. Bromley produces large 50s looking canvases of an innocent world of children. He has created some remarkably animated bronze sculptures of children playing. The Kids on swing, one was alive with energy. He works in many media and has a liveliness in his treatments. I will look out for more of his work, Below is a sample pic from the page on the link below.