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Art? Art! Art…

Megan Walch, Pink F—s Black Oil, glitter and enamel on composite board, 150 x 150cms, private collection











Art? Art! Art…

Venue: The Barn at Rosny Farm, Rosny Hill Road, Rosny Park, Clarence
Exhibition Dates: July 14 – August 13 2017
Gallery Hours: 11am to 5pm daily or by appointment

A_Abdullah_Conciliation (of self) 2015 Digital print 100cm x 100cm 5 editions + 2AP

Abdul Abdullah, Conciliation (of self), digital print, 100 x 100cm, courtesy of the Artist and Lisa Fehily Contemporary

“Art? Art! Art…” is an exhibition of beautiful and provocative works by some of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists: Abdul Abdullah, Pat Brassington, Matt Calvert, Michael Cook, Amanda Davies, Fiona Hall, Ben Quilty, Lucienne Rickard, Cyrus Tang, Nathan Taylor, Daniel von Sturmer and Megan Walch (Illustrated: Pink F___s Black Oil, 2016, glitter and enamel on composite board, private collection).

The artworks have been especially selected to fascinate both those viewers who are curious about contemporary art and those who may be rather sceptical or confused about its value. After all, what are we supposed to do, think and feel about contemporary art? The exhibition is an opportunity to check out the artworks, and also for viewers who want to have their say about the work, to do so in a safe and anonymous environment where all thoughts and responses are valid.

Community and school groups can make a special booking with the curator. Individual viewers are welcome any time. In addition, there is a program of artists’ talks and guided tours. The program is on the gallery website for

Amanda Davies, Lacrime 2017, oil on linen, 31cm x 35.5cm, courtesy of the Artist

The exhibition is an initiative of Clarence City Council’s Cultural Program and was fortunate to receive funding though and Artist and Curator Residency Grant supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund and Museums and Galleries of New South Wales.

The Conversational Code

Contemporary conversational art invites us to consider the other – to move outside our comfort zone – to question the dominant ideal – to make a case for things being more inclusive. Conversational artworks need to be a bit aggravating – like the grit in a pearl shell.

Step 1 – Invite viewers to consider an artwork that they are not immediately drawn to.

[While this is counterintuitive, it is not that complicated for them to do.]

Step 2 – Decide what method works best – Representation / Expression / Abstraction

[If any of these methods is satisfying there is no need to go any further. If not, the work may well be conversational and need further attention.]

Step 3 – Ask viewers to list what they actually see.

[The object is to notice as much as possible including seemingly insignificant details, as these can be the keys into the conversation of the work.]

[Making thinking visible is useful as it helps to hold all the observations and thoughts together.]

Step 4 – Decide if the words are either Dominant or Other.

[The Dominant is how we are told things “should” be. The Other is on the side of life as it is lived.]

Step 5 – Use the list as fuel for a conversation.

What’s wrong with Van Gogh?

Lots of people would count Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ as their favourite artworks of all time – the one they would hang on their lounge room wall (if they had a spare a zillion dollars). But of the 900 paintings and 1,100 drawings and sketches Van Gogh created,  he sold only one work while he was alive. How could that be? How could people not have appreciated this artist’s amazing talent? Were they blind?

The art that preceded Van Gogh was very realistic – made to look like the world we see through our eyes. Van Gogh’s paintings are more about the artist’s psychological experience rather than they are about the specific places he depicts. People who saw these extraordinary were not ready – they didn’t know how to look. But over time the capacity of art to express emotions and sensations has become common place. We learned another way of seeing.

What’s wrong with contemporary art?

Is there something wrong with art, or is it just that some art doesn’t behave as we would like it to… and hasn’t this always been the case? Imagine what people felt when they saw God being represented as if He lived on Earth (with all the marvellous reality that perspective and proportion gives us ) when they were used to God being painted bigger and grander than everything else? The representational art that we now love was once outrageous.