New initiative fills the void from Melbourne Art Fair cancellation.
The 602 event brings together commercial galleries in Melbourne and Sydney from 17 to 21 August 2016.
In February 2016 Melbourne Art Fair announced that it would cancel its 15th edition due to “a failure to attract international collectors, little national interest, and the withdrawal of three major galleries from exhibiting.” The Chairperson of the Melbourne Art Foundation, Anna Pappas, stated that galleries had to make the choice from numerous global fairs and that many local galleries chose the big, international events.
However, in an article about the cancellation of the art fair, academic and ex-director of the Melbourne Art Fair Meaghan Wilson Anastasias argued that a preference for the international art fairs was not necessarily the reason for the falling interest. She maintained that in a crowded international art fair landscape, event organisers either needed to stand out from the crowd with a distinct product or compete on price by undercutting or value adding.
Despite the disappointment and surprise at the cancellation, the art community quickly came together to devise alternatives in order to maintain a dynamic season of events during Melbourne’s winter.
The result of these collaborations is 602, an event that will run from 17 to 21 August 2016 in the space of a former electricity substation at 602 Little Bourke Street in the heart of the city. These dates coincide with other art events across the city, including the hotel-based Spring 1883 and the alternative event NotFair, both satellite events of the former Melbourne Art Fair, as well as FLAIR Melbourne, another new collaborative event that seeks to fill the void left behind by the Melbourne Art Fair.
602 will feature more than 40 Australian and international contemporary artists from nine private galleries. The galleries from Sydney will focus on bringing works not represented in Melbourne, introducing their artists to new audiences.
The 602 event draws inspiration from the rough and tumble Berlin style of creative collaboration, and the location (the basement of a raw, European-influenced space) echoes this aesthetic. Scott Livesey, director of one of the participating galleries and a driving force behind the initiative, explained in a press release that
after the fallout from the cancellation of Melbourne Art Fair, a number of industry peers and I felt it was important to maintain a focus on the arts, artists and collectors at that particular time in Melbourne.
The nine participating galleries are:
- Charles Nodrum Gallery (Melbourne)
- Gallerysmith (Melbourne)
- Jacob Hoerner Galleries (Melbourne)
- Scott Livesey Galleries (Melbourne)
- Martin Browne Contemporary (Sydney)
- M Contemporary (Sydney)
- Olsen Irwin (Sydney)
- Watters Gallery (Sydney)
- Michael Reid (Berlin + Sydney)
Art Radar selects a few highlights from four of the participating galleries.
Gallerysmith, based in Melbourne and established in 2008, exhibits contemporary artists from Australia and South East Asia. In 2014 Gallerysmith launched the Gallerysmith Project Space for more experimental work. The project space sits in the interesting space between an Artist Run Initiative and a commercial gallery.
At 602 Gallerysmith is presenting a group show with Indonesian artist Dadang Christanto, paintings by Adriane Strampp, Charmaine Pike and Ian Friend as well as a small series of ceramics by Lynda Draper.
A standout in this show is Dadang Christanto (born in central Java in 1957) who has participated in events such as the Sydney Biennale (2010), the Venice Biennale (2003), Yogyakarta Biennial (2003), Gwangju Biennale (2000), the Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (1998) and the first and third Asia-Pacific Triennials of Contemporary Art, Brisbane (1993 & 1999). Christanto creates raw socio-political work that honours victims of political violence and crimes against humanity with compassion.
Another experienced artist is Ian Friend (born in Eastbourne, England) who for more than 30 years has developed evocative works on paper inspired by jazz, poetry and architecture. He makes layered work using pigments, inks, crayons and gouaches that are delicate yet powerful.
2. .M Contemporary
Sydney’s .M Contemporary gallery will bring Korean artist Lee Sang Hyun’s works to Melbourne for 602. The gallery supports emerging and established artists from around the world and aims to create a cross-cultural conversation.
Lee Sang Hyun blends reality and fiction, historical and pop reference through his digitally compiled work. He draws on imagery of the cherry blossom that he uses to critique the fake nature of society around him. He places nature next to consumer culture, questioning the direction of contemporary society. Lee mixes traditional ink painting overlaid with modern technology to create fascinating fusions.
3. Michael Reid
Michael Reid gallery, based in both Sydney and Berlin, presents contemporary Australian and international art with exhibitions of art by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and art from the Oceanic region. At 602 Michael Reid will present a solo exhibition by Joseph McGlennon, who depicts animals in their natural habitats through a manipulation of photographs.
McGlennon polished aesthetic, perhaps drawing from his experience in advertising, shows parrots surrounded by exotic blooms, extinct animals and historical curiosities. Sifting through hundreds of photos, he layers them to create hyper-real images. The series to be shown at 602, the Dodo Study, continues on from his earlier works from 2014 entitled Florilegium #1 and Florilegium #2.
4. Scott Livesey Galleries
Scott Livesey Galleries in Melbourne will present a group exhibition that includes Stefan Dunlop, Bern Emmerichs, Ron Francis, Todd Hunter, Alesandro Ljubicic, Matt R Martin, Darren McDonald, Colin Pennock and Vipoo Srivilasa.
Vipoo Srivilasa (born in Bangkok, now based in Melbourne) mainly works in ceramic, but also produces animation, works on paper and mixed media sculptures. His work addresses social, political and ethical issues and most recently looks at the challenges of living between two homes. Since 1997, he has held 23 solo exhibitions in Australia, Thailand and China, and participated in over 100 curated exhibitions across 17 countries.
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