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Posts Tagged ‘Wood’

It’s been bugging me

I read this article by Keith Ovenden the other day and its been bothering me ever since. I guess his view is a fairly widespread one. He writes “Our current exclusion by distance and cost from the globalised exhibitions of great art could mean that in our isolation our own artistic culture may languish.”

Maybe its bugging me because I have such limited knowledge of art in the greater world and the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane is about as far from NZ as I have been art-wise. I suppose that makes me  as Ovenden says “deeply self-absorbed, nationalist in outlook, preoccupied with the idea of a cultural identity that is thought amenable to discovery“. But does this lead to “an outlook that has made so much of our contemporary art dull and uninteresting, created for a contemporary audience and market that is now only tenuously connected to international standards of excellence “?

I am challenged by all of this. A key point in good ‘serious’ art writing and critique  in my view is the ability to give work a place in a New Zealand context and internationally. A thorough knowledge in art history is required for that and I do agree that actually to see works in person is crucial. This is why its great that people like Andrew Paul Wood have been funded for international travel. On a more personal note, my elderly father, not known for his interest in art,  still talks of his one international trip and that seeing the Mona Lisa “for real” was the highlight.

mona
Mona Lisa (La Gioconda) – Leonardo da Vinci 

However to many of us our exposure to the international arts is going to be via the internet or books. Does that mean we are “not sure how to look at paintings, and so how to discover what they might mean.” and is that getting back to the viewpoint that only people with an art/history education are entitled to an opinion? I have a extensively confessed bias to New Zealand art because that is what I am able to engage with easily – is that bad?

And do artists have an obligation to know their history? I am actually thinking he might be right on this and by only looking inwards it could indeed make art “dull and uninteresting“.

So many questions…

Sort of on this subject, I was flicking through the book “Art Icons of New Zealand” by Oliver Stead yestrday and in the entry on Philip Clairmont, the author emphasised his extensive art history knowledge and how he used this to reject the old and create something new (it was in a bookshop so I don’t have the exact quote). I found some of the choices in this book “unusual” as have others and I would have thought Clairmont’s Couch more “iconic” than the Fireplace.

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At a distance

In grey winter days – what art is there unless you seek it out? It is times of “art is where you find it” but sometimes you need to dig deep. A friend describes hanging his surfboard on the wall as art, I find favourite paintings on book covers ( including Agnes Wood’s “The Committee”) and beauty in nappies flapping on the line. Other friends use the weather to stay inside and craft and make art industriously. The children make play dough art which I then have to dig out of the carpet….


In the big world, grumbling continues about the NZ Venice Biennale presence and CNZ, and the Montana books which all seems so distant while I struggle to write or finish anything I start to read (the library fines are building up). So this is writers block huh…?


Winter maybe is a time for quiet contemplation, but I can do without the existential angst!. So something to contemplate.



Rain – Hone Tuwhare

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