15 December 2006

The virtual gallery

I have to admire Bartley and Company's new virtual art gallery. In a year where Wellington has had major dealer galleries open doors, relocate, expand, and disappear completely, it's a progressive and bold move to develop an exhibition space where people can't lean against a work, drink loads of free wine, rifle through the stock room, or berate the staff about the qualities or otherwise of a particular work or artist.

I'm just not at all convinced by the format. The screen grab above, for example, is of the inaugural exhibition, but it's all text. Maybe I'm missing the point, but I still think art sells art, not the artist's statement, be it in a real or a virtual exhibition space.

And I'm inclined to take issue with their press release, stating their first exhibition "will be the first by an established artist presented online in New Zealand". Perhaps solely online, but I can think of dozens of dealer galleries that have been offering a comparable and online exhibition experience above and beyond a physical exhibition for years.

As an aside, I wonder whether a virtual gallery takes a bigger or smaller slice of the final sale price?

Clicky clicky:

14 December 2006

The non-existent museum

German Curator Nicolaus Schafhausen gave a good lecture at City last night, on the role and form of the art institution. I'm quite intersted in gallery governance and institutional development - a legacy from working in the GBAG for a few years I suspect.

Nicolaus raised a lot of good ideas about extending the location of contemporary art beyond the art museum to re-engage dwindling and aging audience numbers. I've long had reservations about audience numbers as an accurate reflection of a gallery's performance, particularly as a justification for ongoing and future development funding. It's a bit like hits on a website (as Nicolaus pointed out). Sure it's a quantifiable number, but it doesn't actually mean a hell of a lot. If anything.

As with all art lectures though, it was a nice opportunity to sit in a dark room, look at pretty pictures (in this case by Isa Genzken (more in her at a later stage)), and let the mind wander.
Prompted by the talk, I thought a lot about a couple of artist projects/works that have shifted the gallery from frame to subject- New Plymouth artist David Clegg's Imaginary Museum project presented at the Govett-Brewster, and Rem Koolhaus' dissection of the value of additions to the Hermitage at last year's Venice Biennale.

Could the fact that artists are the only sector of the industry willing to question the museum be a case of the rest of the industry not wishing to bite the hand that feeds it?

Clicky clicky:
City Gallery
Rem Koolhaas
The Imaginary Museum

08 December 2006

Art vs. the echo chamber

I've always viewed the whole blog phenomenon as something of an echo chamber - blogs are most read by other bloggers. The is illustrated brilliantly in the political blog sphere, where Mssrs Farrar, Carter, Milne, Brown et al seem comment themselves to sleep every night.

Art has been largely remiss from the echo chamber, save for a few occasional forays by general non-art focused bloggers. This seems about to change, with the quiet launch of a couple of blogs by some NZ art world heavyweights.

The great New Plymouth based photographer Peter Peryer has long had a dynamic and comprehensive website, which he set up initially to provide a first lien of defence against barrages of questions from school kids. After a brief hiatus over recent months, his site has reappeared based on a blog platform, and he's clearly embracign the ease of updating that blogging offers. I'm off to Peter's opening at Paul McNamara's in Wanganui tomorrow, so will post a review of sorts in due course. On that there was a great piece on National Radio last Sunday.

More recent converts to online content generation are art world supremos Jim Barr and Mary Barr, with a really interesting and historically valuable collection of observations and mementos Over The Net - no doubt a reference to the cult of table tennis that seems to be entrenching itself in the upper echelons of the Wellington art world. It's interesting to note that nobody has yet posted any comments on this site...

I've also come across this blog - best of 3 - which looks promising, if not still a little green.

I look forward to a stronger dialogue about NZ contemporary art emerging, as these blogs gain momentum and followings, and the edges of the echo chamber get pushed out a little bit further.

05 December 2006

Killeen @ Mcleavey

On Saturday I caught Richard Killeen's show at the Peter Mcleavey Gallery. I'm not sure what to make of it. I was impressed with the technical perfection of the works - computer generated heavily textured scenes - whose black lined edges trace a heritage to Killeens more recognised aluminium cutouts. I liked the links to Cezanne, again through the black lines hinting at Cezanne's (then) revolutionary bold outlines and shadows a century ago, and the modern take on the formally staged and richly coloured diorama of the Dutch masters. I was drawn into the stories the works were telling, trying to figure out the relationships between the various figurative objects in the works and the what the artist was saying by his choice of texture and shape.

The show also reminded me of a time when I loaded Microsoft Publisher on 30 computers, and then spent a year retraining 30 staff that just because they had access to 120 different fonts, they didn't need to use half of them on a single A4 page. Kileen's work unquestionably shows a mastery of some sophisticated 3d modelling software that has been building over his work of recent years, but I was repelled by the overly intricate textures employed (to be fair both stock and custom). The result was like chocolate sauce on chocolate pudding. The forms in the works are rich and sweet, but so is the texture. Together they're almost too much.

Richard Killeen's website
Andrew McLeod's website (compare and contrast)