The parameters of Abu Dhabi Art extends beyond the notion of a traditional art fair; its diverse public engagement programme, ranging from art installations and exhibitions, talks and events, takes place in different locations, throughout the year. The culmination of this year-long programme is the Abu Dhabi Art event in November, which provides the sales platform for participating local and international galleries and an audience of over 20,000 visitors.
Making use of the natural landscape of the region, the Fair’s designer, Nilsson Pflugfelder conceptualised the elements of an art fair as an ‘archipelago’: each entity is conceived as an autonomous island that, together, makes up Abu Dhabi Art in the form of an archipelago. Consisting of ubiquitous 450 x 450 x 450 mm open cubes, the various islands are, within the exhibition, conceived as modular intensities of programmatic content. The aim is to suggest the conscious reconnecting of ideas across an archipelago of time, forming narratives with past eras of utopian interventions.
The Fair’s curatorial programme aims to present a unique iteration, transforming the concept of an art fair to a place of discovery and discourse. The curated series of exhibitions and programme will bring diverse perspectives on global trends to an inspiring schedule of cultural engagement, reflecting the exceptional calibre of contemporary cultural practice for which Abu Dhabi Art is renowned.
Hodryc (Rodrigo Leite) is a Brazilian artist, based in Melbourne. For the past decade, he has been developing an aesthetic which utilises a combination of digital-painting, photography and 3D techniques, and manifests as a complex and highly innovative artwork.
Harnessing his knowledge of Impressionism, Hodryc’s artworks (unique archival pigment prints) present as something of a pixelated landscape, which nevertheless still presents as a painting. For Hodryc, the latter is crucial to the integrity of his art practice: he believes, that although he uses these new technologies as part of the creative process, and as such, they are acting as paint, brush and canvas, most important is that the artist remains true to the essence of the work, that is, there is a danger of digitals artists becoming as ephemeral as technology itself. It is for this reason that Hodryc has elected to create unique edition prints, contending that they are but ‘digital-paintings’.
Hodryc’s most recent series, “Inner Landscapes” represents the artist’s first impressions of the Australian landscape, and just as this same landscape has often depicted isolation, fear, resilience and freedom, so too Hodry’s series.
View a selection of works in the Stockroom.
Established in 2006 to promote excellence in photography, the annual William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize is an initiative of the MGA Foundation. The Bowness Photography Prize has quickly become Australia's most coveted photography prize. It is also one of the country's most open prizes for photography. In the past, finalists have included established and emerging photographers, art and commercial photographers. All film-based and digital work from amateurs and professionals is accepted. There are no thematic restrictions.
The 2017 judging panel: architect, art patron and academic, Corbett Lyon, artist and educator Dr Susan Fereday, and MGA Senior Curator Stephen Zagala.
Walking through our corporate centres and precincts in Melbourne, one is often met with some superb examples of contemporary art installations; within public buildings’ foyers, in communal courtyards adjacent to a corporate headquarters, and welcoming guests to inner city hotels. Imagine for a moment, these same spaces bereft of such artwork…
The CBD of any city is, let’s face it, reflective of the culture, its population, its values. Property developers, architects, town planners and the like, have had an enormous influence over the years on how we experience our cities. Thankfully, these days, numerous buildings, office spaces and residential towers, have been planned and constructed with parameters allowing for artworks.
Similarly, artists have developed and extended their practise to allow for these types of public art commissions, and have thereby created lively and dynamic spaces.
Bringing nature into the city
Artists invariably derive inspiration from their immediate living and working environments. Regionally-based Victorian Peter D Cole puts ‘nature on the stage’ with his ‘urbanised’ interpretations of nature. His sculpture commission of 2005, a manifestation of playful yet beautifully balanced conjoined sculptural archetypal elements such as tree, moon and stars, and the like, and created from stainless steel and powder-coated primary colours welcomes workers and visitors alike at Freshwater Place in Southbank.
The presence of contemporary art installed within a corporate’s head office or flagship building also suggests a forward-looking enterprise, a preparedness to engage with its community.
Art in public spaces, as part of a building’s structure or indeed, as part of a corporate art collection, adds a cultural edifice – whether to that corporate’s identity, the building’s spaces, the locale and immediate environment of that building. Its benefits resonate with its inhabitants, the clients visiting that building or corporate location, the employees and the general public. As such, it contributes in a very tangible way to the society’s cultural infrastructure.
The installation of contemporary art – manifested in any of its genres – can have an educative and interpretative function within the building in which is it placed. A very good example of this concept is Janet Laurence’s “Water Veil” at the Council House 2 (CH2) building in Melbourne.
A diaphanous, experiential and reflective glass veil that transforms the window between the foyer and the public space of the street into a membranous fluid space, “Water Veil” expresses and reveals the transformation and purification of water, reiterating the black water treatment within the building as well as expressing purity and translucence representing the purification of water.
Laurence’s “Water Veil” denotes a very direct educative and interpretive function within the building and from the public space outside creates a dramatic effect, serving to amplify the functional aspect of the CH2 building as environmentally sustainable, in other words, quite literally highlighting a corporate message.
Nowadays, corporate responsibility to its community is higher on the agenda, and part of a corporate’s mandate must service the community at large in some way: incorporating art within its spaces meets one albeit small, aspect of this requisite.
Art for daily inspiration
Inclusion of public art commissions within our built environment, in foyers, adorning a façade, or inhabiting a causeway, contributes to the visual ‘documenting’ of our history; it reflects our growth and development, occasionally our current societal issues, and sometimes our collective values. But equally important, it provides a visual stimuli, an aesthetic pleasure, a thought-provoking moment; an added dimension to our daily lives.
Marion Borgelt’s site specific “Candescent Moon” of 2011, installed at 101 Collins Street, is a case in point. This large scale sculptural relief suggests the universal themes of sequences, celestial orders and lunar rhythms. These ideas are particularly pertinent to the modern corporate lifestyle, where daily life balances the restrictions imposed by cycles of time and the forces of nature’s flux and unpredictability.
Interestingly, Borgelt’s work is intended to be interactive; that is, as the viewer moves around the front of the work, its appearance and nature change from light to dark and from one texture to another. This sequential change can represent a change in time such as the passing from day into night.
The work has a timeless quality, bridging the gap between the everyday and the planetary by acting as a reminder of our daily life while indicating our part in a larger, cosmic structure.
Bringing contemporary art into our built environment clearly comprises many positives for our society: beyond what has been briefly elucidated above, art can start a conversation; open a dialogue. At its most fundamental, art expresses an idea, an observation, and/or an emotion. It enlivens our consciousness, and sometimes changes our experiences and it stimulates, nourishes and feeds our senses. In so many ways, at its most fundamental, art contributes to the ‘wealth’ of our culture.
©Catherine Asquith October 2017
For the past 29 years the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize (DMNPP) has encouraged both excellence and creativity in contemporary Australian portraiture by asking artists to interpret the look and personality of a chosen sitter, either unknown or well known.
Founded by Doug & Greta Moran and family in 1988, the DMNPP is an annual Australian portrait prize supporting Australian artists and the wider arts community by holding the free annual Moran Prizes exhibition, now at Juniper Hall Paddington, displaying the top 30 works selected by nominated judges each year.
Currently with an annual first prize of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000), the Prize is an important part of Australia's Arts calendar. The Prize is acquisitive and the winning portrait immediately becomes the property of the Moran Arts Foundation, to be exhibited permanently as part of the Moran Arts Foundation Collection.
Winner announced on the 18th October 2017.