Sunday, 13 January 2013

...on Holiday at TarraWarra with Jeff and Robert

sunbakiing Wombat

G’day Petals,
As it’s holiday time Mrs Wombat and I took a trip to the other side.

Tarra Warra panorama landscape
Tarrawarra panorama landscape
The Yarra Valley that is, to attend a retrospective of painter Jeffery Smart at TarraWarra.

exhibition at Tarra Warra
TarraWarra Gallery
Although we would have seen this show at some stage the “critique” by Robert Nelson in “The Age” (9-1-13) “Smart Ticks Boxes with Signature Style” prompted a sooner-rather-than-later excursion whilst the critiques’ effect was still fresh in mind. 
It seemed to bear little relation to the tenor of the Smart work that I knew.
It was worth the early visit, for as the day panned-out there were many metaphors of 
contemporary society to be experienced other than in the paintings.

Jeff Smart Tarra Warra
Amongst our favourite paintings were: “Self Portrait at Papini’s”, a work like “Morning Practice, Baia” and Clive James’ Portrait which seem to contradict Nelson’s assertion that “…….Smart is not an allegorical artist”.
Jeff Smart Tarra Warra Jeff Smart Tarra Warra Lawrence Winder

Self-portrait at Papini’s 1984-85 by Jeffrey Smart, courtesy Artist and the TarraWarra Museum of Art, Victoria
The garage door in “Papini’s” looks to be a “send-up” of Dale Hickey’s “Untitled” 1967-8 and the blue door shadow of the paper, a dead fishes tail (?), leaves a deadpan Smart in between both and the possibility of his exit, “stage right” through the open door.

Dale Hickey Jeff Smart Tarra Warra Lawrence Winder
Dale Hickey Untitled 1967-8

A conflict engendered perhaps between figurative and non-figurative artist-practitioners by critics for the critics’ ego and existence?
“Morning Practice” seems to conjure a personal act of art in a primary sense in its shapes, activity and colours. Balance, form and colour, is a hard act to get together.

Jeff Smart Tarra Warra Lawrence Winder
Morning Practice, Baia 1969
Clive James happily recounted being painted by Smart and delighted by the large portrait drawings he had seen was then bowled over by being finally represented as a tiny figure high up behind a big wall (fence) happily observing (chatting to) us down below. (pic on right )

Jeff Smart Tarra Warra Lawrence Winder
TarraWarra Gallery

Asserting too, that Smart paints factories, high rise etc “….because it’s easy to paint….” Is (apart from being Brunswick St.-Barista-Bitchy) belied just by the detail of the crack and the wall texture above the “Hickey” door and in the solid reality of the figure in “On the Roof, Taylor Square” where, in this early work, the juxtaposition of the solidity of the figure and the flatness of the architectural forms behind seem to provide the “airy-ness” one can feel at heights…

Jeff Smart Tarra Warra Lawrence Winder
On the Roof, Taylor Square 1961

…. but then  Nelson sniffily points out “…abstraction that riddles the design affords freedom from noise and chaos in the representation.” and that “… his Roof-tops 1969… look like flat pieces of graphic design” and further, “Largely sparing himself the pains of incidental light and shadows across complicated forms….” “In Italy… he couldn’t reconcile the inflected architecture with the festive spaces that it frames”. 
All of which only seem to suggest that Robert Nelson would paint Italy very differently to Jeffery Smart and that, ergo Smart should paint differently!
A criticism seemingly based upon what you would like to see, not what you have seen and understood
I’ve always liked the story of Francois Truffaut when, as a literary film critic he was challenged by the film-makers he was criticizing to “… go and make a film!”
He did. It was “The Four Hundred Blows.”
So here’s an example (I assume) of Nelson’s scenic painting style as a background to one of Polixeni Papapetrou’s (his wife) photographs, so you can see in comparison, his work for yourself.

Polixeni Papapetrou
Jeffery Smart painted to his own tune. He “hit” an “idea” young and developed it assiduously.
This exhibition is valuable in that you can partially track this development but also experience a wit, a somewhat sardonic view of humanity from the ordinary world culture of roads, freeways, car-parks and airports through the talent of someone who loving the works of  Piero della Francesca and Vermeer presents his subjects calmly in a similarly ordered space that allows the eye an extended looking to discover at its leisure.
Someone who obviously loved drawing, the placing of paint and the enjoyment of “working” a surface so that feeling and thought is revealed.

Tarra Warra  Lawrence winder
exterior : wine tasting and restaurant on left, gallery right
This beautiful space “….is the first privately funded, significant public visual arts museum to be set up under the Australian Government’s philanthropic measures announced in March 1999. TWMA operates as a not-for-profit institution, with a charter to display Australian art from the second half of the twentieth century to the present day.”…. and after an excellent lunch, General Manager Simon Napthine came back to our table provide more details of the history of the place as he had overheard us ask some questions of our waitress.
Tarra Warra  reastaurant Lawrence winder
GM Simon Napthine and restaurant.

The corollary of the Besen’s philanthropy to the arts is that it has extended to the staff here and they made it a perfectly enjoyable day for us with their natural good service.

Wombat Droppings

Jenny Macklin (Labor)  put her foot right in it but did something unusual for a pollie. Apologised!
Incompetent Baillieu Liabrils blame Labor Feds for faltering hospital system after Feds cut $107 Million from State of Tardis (where all goes backward) Health while forgetting to mention the $616 Million they have slashed.
But they say, the plan to spend it all on a new Tennis Centre is a good thing for the Tardis State.

Jonathon Moylan has caused much embarrassment to the share trading community with his ANZ letter hoax as they splutteringly attempted to explain just how straight their operations are…. Oohh look… there’s a rabbit!!
…and Peter (Children Overboard) Reith reckons he ought to be punished …perhaps like he was when his son ran up a $20,000.00 phone bill on Pete’s Commonwealth Pollies phone card!  Howard, (He of the Profligate spending) was inclined to think “It’s not a hanging offence!”

Abbott staffer kicks own goal with a clumsy attempt to paint him as human.

Chris (The Whyne) Pyne has been caught out lying again….again trying to support Abbott’s Neanderthal attitude to women

“Slippery Pete” has been collared by the ACT rozzers and might go to jail if found guilty of defrauding the Commonwealth of about $1000.00.
Pity the Liarbrils’are so quiet about it happening when he was one of them!

Geoff Shaw, Liarbril Member for Frankston is still sitting in Parliament having been found by Parliament to have defrauded the State.
Hey, Big Bird Baillieu (Genus: Silvertail Incompetens)….. what’s the difference?

Melbourne Airport Carpark holds Tardis State  (where all goes backward) to ransom over easier access to airport.
…and a nice little movie celebrating our Public transport officers….

Cheers Possums,

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