Friday, March 20, 2009

Day at the Gallery

The free wireless in the common areas of our building was down for the past week and a half. (I suspect I'm the main culprit, downloading too many new apps that they put a temporary ban on the internet!)

So I've been using my phone to check emails and Facebook, but blog entries by phone are a lot more difficult. Maybe this is a lame excuse to defend my absence from here? ...also coz, well... I'm still on the job hunt and it would be boring to give updates every single day of "nothing to report here".

The good news is, since I'm tired of trying to make headway in the job search and banging my head on the wall in frustration when it's absolutely dry here, I've decided to go home and hang out there for a couple weeks. I'll be back in Singapore next week for 2 weeks!

I got off my ass a couple weeks ago and headed to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. They were just about to announce the winner of their annual Archibald Prize this year, so I thought I'd go check out the portraits.

I was a day too early. The exhibition hadn't opened yet and the judges were still judging.

Oh well, no matter, there were some other pretty cool paintings too... I'd taken Art History classes in University, and quite a few of them too since I was considering doing a minor in Art History, and it was awesome seeing so many blasts from the past. As in, I actually saw the paintings I studied in textbooks, up close and personal in the flesh!

Peter Paul Reubens' self-portrait:

Edward Poynter "The Visit of Queen of Sheba to King Solomon":

(I remember poring over this particular painting into the wee hours. What I studied about it, I can't even remember anymore. Ha! But I do remember the gold, gilded frame was also designed by the painter to fit the picture)

One of the kings of Pointilism, Camille Pisarro "Peasants Houses":

And this is one of my all-time favourites, Charles Meere's "Australian Beach Pattern":

Up close, it looks like a retouched photograph, with the way the soft light falls on all the people, giving everyone a soft, fuzzy glow on their skin. And then you realize "hang on, it's a painting, not a photo!"... and to get that kind of effect on a PAINTING is testament to his complete skill.

And then there was also this nostalgic painting for me, a surrealist piece by James Gleeson, can't remember what it's called now, but I like how he painted the arb person poking his head out of a corner in the midst of this weird, sea-monster chaos (kinda bottom left of frame, behind the rocks... or is it a squid.):

(What's funnier is the guy's '70s-style spectacle frames. So random!)

And then there was a contemporary video installation piece that was pretty cool. The entire room was dark, except for about 4 or 5 projectors suspended on the ceiling, beaming images straight down onto the floor. In the middle of where the projector beam shined, there was a drain hole (like the drain hole for your shower). On a loop, each projector beamed a face of a person, almost in a sepia colour tone over this drain hole. So you sit there and watch this person's face, and over about 5 minutes, the face slowly starts to disappear into the drain hole... like it was literally being sucked down into the drain. The faces had an almost liquid texture to them as they started to be flushed down the drain, and it was fascinating to watch these contorting faces disappear before your eyes.

By Oscar Munoz, titled "Biographies 2002". Of course, it's about the transience of human existence. (...I think?)

The gallery itself is a gorgeous space. The oldskool renaissance paintings were housed in a wing with super high ceilings, some of them with skylights, which added to the grandeur of the space.

I took a short stroll through Hyde Park to get back to town, and saw some old men playing giant chess in the park while business executives watched as they ate lunch.

Not a bad way to spend a morning at all! :)

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