Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Bouquet for Biennale of SYDNEY

Images,Top to Bottom: Nandipha Mntambo, Meditations on Solitude; Kent Monkman "the Death of Adonis" 2009; Claudio Dicochea "dr Slayer y vampiro" 2009; and David Noonan, "Two Moons" 2009-10

OK, I know it's a little after the fact, but I did want to share that I thought this latest Biennale of Sydney was a ripper. I enjoyed every floor of the MCA exhibition, the paintings and sculptures most of all. The joy of discovering Louise Bourgeoise's works, especially "Echo VII" -in person, live and uninhibited, (and virtually "unannounced") was only rivaled by some superb work by Nandipha Mntambo, a Swaziland artist whose Animal skin sculptures moulded by, and leaving the traces of, human occupancy (such as "Meditations on Solitude") were quite breathtaking- beautiful, tactile, inviting (and slightly repulsive), thought provoking and having such "lift" that their presence was equally balanced by their ethereal nature. I am absolutely intrigued by the technique used which makes her work appear that the artist has just stepped out from behind the rug and turned invisible.

The small quirky cardboard sculptures by Jake and Dinos Chapman, installed in their hundreds and articulating many of the every day rituals of humans (have you ever seen two cardboard figures having sex?), were delightful and funny as well as a little shocking ("Two faced C...t" being an example).

It was great to see painting alive and well and occupying enough space on the "cutting edge" to gain attention. David Noonan's works, comprised of screen prints, collage and paintings, use scale and the mix of techniques to an impressive advantage inviting a curiousity about his mix of subject matter, art references and even cultures. Seemingly simple in their monochromatic execution on rough, sack like material, the paintings invite a completion of the narrative from the viewer and evoke a broody, almost nostalgic contemplation. Penny Siopis' works such as "Ambush," using oil paint, viscous glue and liquid paint, apparently deal with "the fragility and vulnerability of human experience in a political context" -are strongly erotic and to me, evoke Edo Art in a more sensuous, modern way. Swathes of blood red and fleshy pinks are beautiful at first glance and from a distance, but evoke the entanglement of an octopus and almost suffocation at closer inspection. Strong in presence and in execution.
I also enjoyed the freshness of the Mexican artist, Claudio Diocochea's mix of pop and historical images ("Dr Slayer y Vampiro Lobita") and Kent Monkman's take on the American West genre and Imperialist Romantic Art, again, huge in scale and superbly executed.
The videos here, unlike at the Cockatoo Island location for the Biennale, were totally out gunned by the more traditional arts. It looks like painting and sculpture, and "artistic skills" are back in fashion!

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