Hong Kong gets first major Australian art survey


Featuring 45 of Australia’s top and upcoming artists, “WATTLE: Contemporary Australian Art”, is the first major survey exhibition of Australian art in Hong Kong. The show opened on February 24, 2011 at The Space, Hong Kong.

Alan Jones, 'The Crown Jewels', 2010, metal, fabric, synthetic fur, plastic and dimonties, 58 x 62 x 62 cm. Image courtesy The Cat Street Gallery.

In 2010, “GQ Australia magazine include[d] the work of Alan Jones … amongst its ’50 Best Things In The World Right Now!'”

Click here to view more works by artist Alan Jones on his website.

John Olsen, 'Girafes - Kenya', 2010, mixed media on paper, 75 x 86 cm. Image courtesy The Cat Street Gallery.

Being the sixth largest country in the world, Australia’s art scene is diverse and influenced by a variety of neighboring cultures. Works in “WATTLE” ranged from those that pay homage to indigenous Australian art to boundary-breaking conceptual art, landscape paintings to activist-themed works.

Click here for the full list of the 45 “WATTLE” artists.

Clinton Nain, 'Hit The Target', 2011, acrylic and bitumen on linen, 50.8 x 35.5 cm. Image courtesy The Cat Street Gallery.

Nain’s work lifts the rug to uncover a poorly hidden shame of Australia’s past and present, the orchestrated ill-treatment of the traditional owners of this land.

Click here to read Clinton Nain’s biography on the website of representing gallery, Sherman.

Julia Deville, 'Orcus', 2010, stillborn piglet, diamonds, freshwater pearls, sterling silver, wood, glass, 32 x 30 x 36 cm. Image courtesy The Cat Street Gallery.

Alluding to Australia’s floral emblem called the “Golden Wattle”, verb-wise, “wattle” defines the process of weaving together twigs to make a mesh. The exhibition attempts to mimic this concept by showing key pieces of artists’ works, thus assembling the different styles and practices that are seen as being representative of the nation’s artistic identity.

Janet Laurence, 'Last Glance in the Glass', 2009-2011, Duraclear on shinkolite acrylic, mirror, oil glaze, 100 x 140 cm. Image courtesy The Cat Street Gallery.

Janet Laurence’s work echoes architecture while retaining organic qualities and a sense of instability and transience. Her work occupies the liminal zones or meeting places of art, science, imagination and memory. Profoundly aware of the interconnection of all life forms, Laurence often produces work in response to specific sites or environments using a diverse range of materials. Alchemical transformation, history and perception are underllying themes in her exhibition work.

Click here to read more about Janet Laurence’s work on her website.

Aaron Kinnane, 'When Extraordinary Things Happen to Ordinary People', 2010, oil on canvas, 160 x 150 cm. Image courtesy The Cat Street Gallery.

Until recently, a considerable amount of what is shown in Australia’s local art scene has received less recognition in other regions. With Hong Kong rapidly developing and garnering focus as a major Asian art hub, “WATTLE” could be seen as a push to elevate the presence of Australian art in today’s international art market.

Exhibition curator Kate Bryan says of the market’s growing interest:

I think Australian art is increasingly getting more attention and this is due to increased exposure of Australian galleries in international art fairs, such as Art HK and Art Stage Singapore. It has also been helped by commercial galleries in London showing mid career Australian artists.

Reko Rennie, 'Aborigine (Orange), 'Aborigine (Red)', 'Aborigine (Green)', 'Aborigine (Blue),' 2010, acrylic and spray paint on linen, 83.8 x 106.7 cm. Image courtesy The Cat Street Gallery.

This is an amazing image for the time, socially and politically. The stamp is often referred to as One Pound Jimmy and was being used to advertise and promote Australia internationally, using a kitschy image of an Aboriginal man. … This was … a time when Aboriginal people were still not considered citizens of Australia and before Aboriginal people gained the right to vote in 1967. … I went about cutting and creating the stencil and changed a couple of bits, but overall the image looks great as a stencil.

Click here to read more about Reko Rennie’s ‘Aborigine’ artwork on the artist’s ABC arts blog.

Stefan Dunlop, 'Millerman', 2010, oil on linen, 152 x 132 cm. Image courtesy The Cat Street Gallery.

What is, for me, most interesting and compelling about Dunlop’s recent art is the sheer beauty of its chromatic and compositional harmonies in contrast with its highly theatrical subject matter.

Click here to read an essay on the work of Stefan Dunlop by scholar Richard Brettell.


Related Topics: surveys, Hong Kong venues, Australian artists

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