Celebrating art

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It has been said that art is a tryst, for in the joy of it maker and beholder meet. ~Kojiro Tomita

Art can be celebrated any day of the week but this year my home town of Brisbane is celebrating the 10th birthday of our very own Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art – GOMA with a summer long exhibition and series of activities. I popped along to join in the fun on another day of celebration, for some, – Australia Day. 

The 10th birthday celebrations feature a whopping 250 contemporary artworks that are a true feast for the senses. There are some newly commissioned works as well as a lovely smattering of old favourites.  The intention of the exhibition is to reflect our complex connections to the natural world through the senses. My senses were pleasantly engaged and enchanted by the multi dimensional and interactive landscape artfully curated for art lovers of all ages.

Visitors are greeted by two spiralling slides that rocket the brave and childlike from the top floor to the bottom. Around the corner vivid colour strikes the eye as a landscape of synthetic hair that appears to grow from the ground reaches toward the ceiling. A sudden change of sensory input occurs when you step from the bright, well light open space of the gallery into a softly dimmed cavern containing a Heard of sculptural horses that I believe can be brought to life by dancers.

I was pleasantly surprised and no less intrigued to see Ron Mueck’s massive and life-like sculpture In bed on display again. The detail and the intimacy of the work is mesmerizing. This is one work I long to reach out and touch.

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The hugely popular installation of thousands and thousands of white Lego pieces was back.  The joy of this piece is in watching young and old sit and build fantastic structures.  It was slightly disconcerting for me to have it placed in a different spot to the first time it appeared. It was deja vu gone wrong.

Pinaree Sanpitak’s Noon-nom installation drew me. I wanted to sink into it, lounge atop the soft sculptures and enjoy the view of the river.  Having commented to the gallery staffer that it was tempting to do just that, she informed me the work was designed for relaxing on. At first glance the installation appears to be a lovely compilation of multi coloured bean bags.  The many soft sculptures actually represent breast stupas; a lovely bringing together of the human form and the spiritual. I had to giggle at myself for lounging on large breasts but marvel too at the artist’s ingenuity in capturing the nurturing form so well.

So many of the exhibits and installations provoked a mindful consideration of our being and our interactions with others and the world. Standing beneath a gigantic aluminium snake skeleton that spirals 53 metres gave me pause to reflect on how tiny we humans are yet how bold our ideas, traditions and stories can be. Tomás Saraceno’s Biospheres bought to mind soap bubbles, jelly fish, a fragile globe all at once. Another delightful yet fragile landscape was constructed by Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s in his musical installation of live finches. I felt a world away from the hustle and bustle and was lucky enough to be the sole visitor for a while in this soothing space. Lee Mingwei’s Writing the Unspoken was a change of pace. In an intimate room with subdued lighting three small asian inspired booths offer visitors the opportunity to exchange ideas, communicate gratitude, insights and forgiveness. Visitors can write unspoken messages to be sent by the gallery, if sealed and addressed or leave a message for others to read and enjoy.  I was moved by the strength and beauty of the words people chose to leave for strangers. 

Congratulations GOMA on your 10th birthday. Congratulations to the curators for bringing together seemingly disparate pieces and creating a world of joy, contemplation and reverence.  Well done. Thank you to artists everywhere who through great talent, sacrifice and struggle bring us these works that move us, shape us and create something that lingers long after we’ve taken in the work itself.

 

Inspired by Artistic Expression

I have a friend who asks “What inspired you this week?” It’s a great question. Often I have to scratch around and ponder deeply in order to respond. This last fortnight, however, I have been greatly inspired by a number of sources. The energy of these artistic sources have remained with me as daily companions.

I visited GOMA, in Brisbane, where Cai Guo-Qiang’s Falling Back to Earth exhibition is currently showing. I find my thoughts returning to linger over the works on display.

I had purposely not read anything about the exhibit prior to attending not wanting reviews to interfere with my experience. I was not prepared for the grand scale of each of the installations.

The cavernous space of the gallery itself usually overwhelms me but it was perfect for this exhibition.  On entering the first room, to view Heritage, I felt as though I was transported to another time and place. Interestingly, I think everyone else felt the same. There was an incredible hush in the room despite the number of people in attendance. There was almost a reverence with which we viewed the waterhole and considered the circumstances under which all the animals would have come together at that one place.  I felt very blessed almost to be in attendance at what appeared, to me, to be a sacred gathering of the worlds’ animals at the waterhole.
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I was initially disgruntled at seeing a large, uprooted tree in the open space between galleries and realising part of my admission ticket was for the pleasure of viewing this ‘piece of art’. My melancholy dissipated very quickly and I was immersed in observing the magnificence of this mighty tree. It’s textures, colours and form, not to mention the surreal nature of having a fifty metre tree, suspended horizontally inside a sleek, modern gallery.

The final instillation was again of gigantic proportions. On entering the room I was immediately drawn to the smooth, almost graceful loop created by close to one hundred wolves. Each wolf unique in its expression was also part of a greater community working together to achieve a single goal. Sadly, it seemed, they were misled and the goal unattainable.

The size and scale of the installations were both mind boggling and impressive. But the deeper statements about humanity behind each piece, the artists skill and talent in bringing such pieces into form and the thoughts and emotions each piece stirred within me have been nudging and poking and prodding my mind these last two weeks.

In last week’s blog I shared my excitement at having heard Elizabeth Gilbert talk on her creative process. Snippets of her talk keep rolling into my waking moments on gentle waves. I’d say I was inspired, wouldn’t you?

I read a novel this week, Left Neglected by Lisa Genova, purchased for three dollars at the local op shop. I literally inhaled it. I could not put it down. I was inspired by the protagonist for overcoming the obstacles she faced and the author’s brilliance at taking on such a formidable topic and engaging, educating and evoking great emotion in the reader. Not only that but I found myself questioning the decisions I’ve made and the consequences of my choices. “Is there another way to live that is more fulfilling?”

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I was awestruck too by the words of Rumi shared with me by a friend, who herself is an inspiration. She is an alchemist, a wise woman and a spiritual teacher. Her own words move me to seek deeper levels of knowing and understanding. On this occasion the words of Rumi she shared struck and stuck at my core. I have attached the poster below for your enjoyment.

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It has been, without a doubt, a magical fortnight. Full of great and inspiring people, creativity and thought. I feel moved, moulded and changed as a result of not only my initial contact with each source but by the lingering impressions each have made on me.

What inspired you this week? I’d love to hear!