Behind the costume: Lady Gaga

 
Somarta / Tamae Hirokawa, Japan b.1976 / Protean from the Skin Series 2007 / Black nylon/ polyurethane seamless knit; welded with crystals and Noritaka Tatehana, Japan b.1985 / Night Makers 2010 / Artisan collection black leather platform boots / Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute
‘Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion’, installation view, GOMA / Photographs: Mark Sherwood, © QAGOMA

When Mother Monster steps out into the world, she does so with style… Lady Gaga was famously photographed by Nick Knight for Vanity Fair in 2010 wearing this body suit Protean from the ‘Skin Series’ 2007, made of black nylon/ polyurethane seamless knit, welded with crystals and designed by Tamae Hirokawa for the Somarta label and matching shoes Night Makers 2010, artisan collection black leather platform boots by Noritaka Tatehana.

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Lady Gaga / Photograph: © Nick Knight

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Lady Gaga’s Vanity Fair cover (one of four potential cover options) and inside spread / © Vanity Fair

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Vale: Robert Hunter

 

The Gallery acknowledges the recent passing of Robert Hunter (1947–2014), one of Australia’s pre-eminent abstract artists. Born in Melbourne, Hunter was strongly influenced by teachers Dale Hickey and James Doolin, and later the enigmatic black paintings by Ad Reinhardt, as well as the conceptual grids of Sol LeWitt. However, by the mid-1960s he had found a unique abstract language and set of parameters that would sustain his practice for nearly five decades. Hunter was the youngest artist included in the National Gallery of Victoria’s seminal exhibition ‘The Field’ in 1968. In 1971 he was included in the Second Indian Triennale, Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi, and in 1974 in an international survey ‘Eight Contemporary Artists’ at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He maintained an international profile for many years, also showing in London and Dusseldorf.

Robert Hunter, Australia 1947-2014 / No. 4 untitled painting 1968 / Synthetic polymer paint on canvas / Purchased 1987 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © Robert Hunter, 1968/Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney 2014

Although Hunter’s works have ranged between painting and installation, his practice is remarkable in its consistency and uncompromising direction. Each work was generated from the previous and inspired the next, in recent years using standard house paints in shades of white on rectangular 4 feet by 8 feet sheets of plywood. The minute variations of tone and subtle shifts in geometry throughout the works are logical and empirical, but often provoke reactions and descriptions laden with emotion and even spirituality.

How did we install Tomás Saraceno’s Biospheres?

 

Tomás Saraceno is renowned for his ambitious sculptures and installations that take the form of webs and interconnected spheres or bubbles. His work is influenced by ideas of networking and ecology, looking to the systems and forms found in nature as the basis for his work. He has an ongoing interest in the structure of spiders’ webs and their adaptability to the changing environment, the complex structures mirrored in these works are salient symbols for the interconnectedness of ecosystems.

Watch: The install of Tomás Saraceno’s Biospheres

Tomás Saraceno ‘Biosphere cluster’

Tomás Saraceno, Argentina b.1973 / Biosphere 02 and Biosphere 2009 / PVC, rope, nylon monofilament, acrylic, Tillandsia plants, air pressure regulator system, hydration system / Purchased 2014 with funds from Tim Fairfax, AC, through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Tomás Saraceno

DELVE DEEPER: Tomás Saraceno’s Biospheres

Saraceno presents his installations as designs for floating dwellings and parks. Biosphere 02 contains Tillandsia plants, a type of Bromeliad that is native to the Americas. They receive all of their nutrients from water and air, so thrive in a closed ecosystem, such as the floating garden created by Saraceno. We are invited to imagine industrialised cities with similar floating bubbles containing gardens hovering above the ground to offer new green spaces.

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Vale: Gordon Bennett

 

With great sadness, the Gallery acknowledges the passing of Gordon Bennett on 3 June 2014. Indisputably one of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists, Bennett made extraordinarily nuanced, clear and consistent contributions to discussions around race, identity, socialisation, colonialism, globalisation and citizenship in this country.

Gordon Bennett’s arrival on the Brisbane art scene is one I will never forget. I vividly recall his first show at Peter Bellas Gallery in Adelaide Street in 1989. It was one of the most insistently accomplished and coherent exhibitions you could imagine from such a young artist. It didn’t seem possible that he was so newly emerged from art school.

Gordon Bennett, Australia 1955-2014 / Triptych: Requiem, Of Grandeur, Empire 1989 / Oil and photograph on canvas / Triptych: a: 120 x 120cm; b: 200 x 150cm; c: 120 x 120cm / Purchased 1989 under the Contemporary Art Acquisition Program with funds from Hill & Taylor, Solicitors through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © The Estate of Gordon Bennett

The Gallery acquired several works from that show but it is Triptych: Requiem, Of Grandeur, Empire that still stands as an enduring leitmotif of Gordon’s uncompromising but eloquent address to history. I knew his work best in the late 80s to mid-90s, when it featured in the ground-breaking exhibition ‘Balance 1990: views, visions, influences’ at the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG), and in the Art Gallery of New South Wales’s survey of contemporary Australian work ‘Perspecta’.  He won the prestigious Moet & Chandon Australian Art Fellowship in 1991 and was invited by renowned curator Fumio Nanjo to show in the Aperto section of the 46th Venice Biennale in 1995.

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Although much of his work dealt with his Aboriginal heritage, Bennett refused to be categorised as an Indigenous artist. He resisted being included in Aboriginal art displays and instead maintained that he was a contemporary artist – his point being that all artists should be treated as equal, regardless of race or heritage. As he once explained:

I didn’t go to art college to graduate as an ‘Aboriginal Artist’. I did want to explore ‘Aboriginality’, however, and it is a subject of my work as much as are colonialism and the narratives and language that frame it, and the language that has consistently framed me. Acutely aware of the frame, I graduated as a straight honours student of ‘fine art’ to find myself positioned and contained by the language of primitivism as an ‘Urban Aboriginal Artist’.

For me, the conceptual architecture of Gordon’s work was built on an always thoughtful and intelligent address to history – be it that of his family, of the current condition of Indigenous Australia, or the collapse of these things into and through classical and western art history.

Gordon Bennett, Australia 1955-2014 / Notes to Basquiat: Aboriginality 1998 / Synthetic polymer paint on canvas / 137 x 98.5cm / Gift of Scott Redford through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2009. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © The Estate of Gordon Bennett

Gordon’s unexpected death comes at a time when his work is finding new audiences across the globe, most recently through the Berlin Biennale in 2014 and dOCUMENTA 13 in 2012. We take consolation in the knowledge that he was able to quietly enjoy this international respect and recognition from his peers and audiences — and that his bold, rigorous and honourable cultural influence will be felt for generations.

His work will continue to resonate and to gain even more importance as Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians seek to find some form of reconciliation with their histories. Never more than now have we needed artists to speak truth to the power of that history. Australia and Australian art has lost an authoritative contributor to that dialogue.

Chris Saines, CNZM is Director of the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA)

With information supplied by Peter McKay, Curator, Contemporary Australian Art and Bruce McLean, Curator, Indigenous Australian Art

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Acknowledgment of Country
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land upon which the Gallery stands in Brisbane. We pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders past and present and, in the spirit of reconciliation, acknowledge the immense creative contribution Indigenous people make to the art and culture of this country.

It is customary in many Indigenous communities not to mention the name or reproduce photographs of the deceased. All such mentions and photographs are with permission, however, care and discretion should be exercised.

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Harvest: Art, Film And Food

 

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The smell of Thai takeaway has been emanating from the Gallery of Modern Art…

Just ahead of ‘Harvest: Art, Film + Food’ opening at GOMA from 28 June – 21 September, Arts Minister Ian Walker was on hand this week to serve up a traditional Thai lunch to three unsuspecting gallery visitors and Gary Stafford, Managing Director of PanAust, Major Sponsor of ‘Harvest’.

Around a rather conspicuous table set with cutlery and a traditional Thai stainless steel ‘tiffin’ lunchbox, Gary and the gallery-goers talked, laughed and enjoyed Thai take-out. So what’s going on?…well it’s part of ‘Harvest’, it’s a social sculpture by Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija.

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Rirkrit Tiravanija, Argentina/Thailand b.1961 / Untitled (lunch box) 1998 / Stainless steel tiffin, Thai newspaper, Thai takeaway food from local restaurant / Gift of the artist through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2009 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

Every Thursday and Saturday during ‘Harvest’ Tiravanija’s work Untitled (lunch box) will enable Gallery visitors to come together and share a traditional Thai-style lunch. The interactive artwork offers a playful disruption to the usual art viewing experience by introducing the smells and noises of cooking, eating and talking…

‘Harvest’ opening weekend on Saturday 28 & Sunday 29 June will feature curator and artist talks, exhibition tours, chef cooking demonstrations and alfresco fare served on the Gallery’s Bodhi Tree Terrace. All are welcome.

The presentation of Rirkrit Tiravanija’s Untitled (lunch box) in ‘Harvest’ is supported by the exhibition’s Major Sponsor, PanAust.

Sam Fullbrook: Delicate Beauty

 
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Michel Lawrence (Photographer) / Portrait of Sam Fullbrook 1986 / Collection and ©: Castlemaine Art Gallery

The works of Sam Fullbrook, one of the most important Australian painters of the twentieth century, are on display in their first significant exhibition in almost two decades. Fullbrook’s ideas about painting were captured in an interview in 1985.

In December 1985, filmmaker John Cruthers interviewed painter Sam Fullbrook (1922–2004) at his studio in Oakey on the Darling Downs. His exciting use of colour and abstraction is showcased in a retrospective exhibition that includes more than 30 paintings and a group of works on paper, with subjects including portraiture, landscape, horseracing and coastal scenes.

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Sam Fullbrook, Australia 1922-2004 / Northwest landscape with Aborigines 1955 / Oil on canvas/ Gift of Mrs Anthea Wieneke 1984 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery/ © Estate of the artist
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Sam Fullbrook / Mt Cooroy with Bunya Pines 1966-67 / Oil on canvas / Gift of J.P. Birrell, Lorant Kulley and P. Conn 1967 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © QAGOMA

A lot of people say, ‘that old bushman Sam Fullbrook’, but I’m no bushman. I was brought up in the heart of Sydney. Probably, I get that bushman bit because I’ve spent half of my life in the bush and I like living in the bush. No, I’m not a bushman, I’m a painter. I’m a good painter. I’m a portrait painter.

All the best paintings come from the best ideas. [A] lot of good pictures come from just hard work and a lot of good pictures come from accident. That’s what it’s all about, painting a good picture. There’s no such thing as an Old Master that is bad, so primarily there is technique. Technique is the thing that stands the test of time. Once you get [the colours] on the canvas, leave [them] there. If you make a mistake, don’t try and rub it out. Take your argument from what you did the day before. Don’t try and paint over . . . the application of colour to make a good picture: this is what you’re up to.

I have had a lot of experience in house painting. I’m not a house painter tradesman, but I have worked for a lot of very good tradesmen, and some of the most wonderful tricks or techniques of painting that I have learnt have been guided by people in house painting. If you buy an old board [with] coats of paint, you can study and you can see how the colour was got by the use of coloured undergrounds. They all use colours and white undergrounds . . . and if there was a warm underground there was a cool finishing coat, or if there was a cool underground, they would use a warm finishing coat. And that principle of the warm and dark, it’s just these basic principles . . . well, I suppose the science of colours.

The term alla prima, it’s Italian. The alla prima are some of the most wonderful portraits that have ever been. Those Rubens, some of the Fragonards — wonderful things. They’ve been painted in a couple of hours. There’s a piquancy, a vibrancy and an immediacy about the alla prima picture and, not only that, it lasts because it’s painted thinly and quickly and basically into the glaze. Yes, I think they’re the best pictures. Once you get excited about something, well, you’ve got an advantage. It’s going to have something that should have an influence on you. It’s full of portent. It’s going to be something wonderful. You take advantage of it. And you get it down — what it is — simple and quick.

I’ve always regarded myself as a portrait painter. Painting portraits well, it’s a highly disciplined craft. There’s a lot of drawing — I think that you should resume life [drawing] classes, say, two or three times a week. The format is pretty fixed. Basically, it’s like being a musician — it’s practice, it’s practice. It’s tuning the eye so that when something is put down, it’s in the right place. It’s discipline.

I’m just pictures. I don’t know what sort of a painter I am. It doesn’t particularly worry me whether I’m a good painter or a bad painter as long as I painted many pictures . . . I’m a good tradesman if you want a flower piece or a figure, a portrait or a drawing or a watercolour. I can turn my hand to all those things. Brilliance has nothing to do with being able to keep in business. Brilliance hasn’t much to do with painting pictures. Brilliance has nothing to do with anything really.

I wouldn’t say that I’m a very devout person, but I do go to church, pretty regularly, too. I am very much aware of the communal spirit — the meeting, the getting together of people, the support thing . . . ah, the gentle touch is not so terribly removed from meek either. It’s nice to think you can achieve something with the gentle touch — yes, delicate beauty.

 

This transcript, edited by Julie Ewington, Curatorial Manager, Australian Art, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, is of an interview originally recorded for the Australia Council in 1986, has been reproduced here with kind permission. Interview transcribed by Shirley Millett, Curatorial Intern.

‘Sam Fullbrook: Delicate Beauty’ is on view at QAG until 10 August 2014. An exhibition publication is available for purchase from the QAGOMA Store and online, and features some of Fullbrook’s most important portraits — including Ernestine Hill 1970, one of the Queensland Art Gallery’s most beloved paintings — landscapes and racetrack paintings, with a focus on works produced when the artist resided in south-east Queensland. Beautifully illustrated and featuring an interview with the artist by John Cruthers, Sam Fullbrook: Delicate Beauty is the first substantial publication of the intimate and highly individual works of Sam Fullbrook to be produced by a state gallery in almost two decades.

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Sam Fullbrook / Ernestine Hill 1970 / Oil on canvas / Gift of the artist 1972 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © QAGOMA
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Sam Fullbrook / Mermaid as Bride 1971 / Oil on canvas on panel / Gift of the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Foundation for the Arts through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2012. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery /© Estate of the artist
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Sam Fullbrook / Poincianas 1971 / Oil on canvas / Purchased 1972 with the assistance of an Australian Government Grant through the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © QAGOMA