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! :)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Time for Mardi Graaaaaaaas!!!

Sydney's Mardi Gras is legendary. Every year, the entire month of February is the Mardi Gras month, celebrating all things gay, lesbian, transgender... and as one newspaper article put it, all things "queer".

It all culminates to a big-ass street party down Oxford Street in the middle of town. Streets are closed, floats are built, people are dressed up, and it's just great fun people-watching, not just at the people taking part in the parade, but also the people in the streets. People really go to town with their outfits... wearing wigs, painting their faces, and some even came in themed outfits (Doris & the Tin Man, Mickey & Minnie Mouse).

Of course, the best outfits really went to the people in the parade, and these are some of the highlights...

(I can't believe he wasn't cold!)

(Pix on the right are of the hardcore biker men in leather)

There was even a disabled people's float. Seriously!

And people who lived in apartment blocks above Oxford Street had the best views of the activities down below, some even decking out their balconies and holding parties on them.

(There were some special Ozzie flags hanging too - where the entire flag's pink where the blue is supposed to go).

These girls staying at the YWCA were bored while waiting for the parade to start, they started performing YMCA for the crowd below.

It was a manic crowd that got more and more packed.

And some people had ingenious ideas. Like this lady who brought her own stool, not to SIT on, but to STAND on. So she could tower above the crowds.

(Of course she had to be a kiasu Chinese lady.) (I think I'll do the same for next year's parade)

And this guy who brought his own cardboard periscope, so he could see above the crowds.

I couldn't see anything happening at street level... the moment the bikers came tearing down the street to open the parade, everyone's hands were waving their cameras in the air, and it was just pointless (see crowd shots above too).

Kelly & I were there with his childhood friend, Johnny, who's about my height or shorter. I think we both felt like this the entire night:

It was only when the floats appeared that I could kinda see something happening.

I ended up watching the parade through other people's viewfinders. Haha. We got kinda fed-up, plus our calves were getting sore, so we walked around, soaking up the rest of the good vibes.

And then we found another spot where we could see the floats moving off from...

(Yes, those are naked bums on the float)

And here are videos that'll help bring the Mardi Gras to life for you.

Check out the full album at this link:
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