Exhibiting a Story

On Sunday, I visited the Van Gogh, Dali and Beyond: The World Reimagined exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia which showcased works from the Museum of Modern Art. It tells wonderful stories, without words.

To look at Pablo Picasso’s Violin and Grapes while listening to violin music was amazing. Vision and hearing became tangled up with an illusory sense of touch so that I almost felt the textures of wood Picasso painted. Beautiful.

I used to wonder if some artists’ reputations were over-blown. Andy Warhol was one of those. I was wrong to doubt. Double Elvis is remarkable in its impact.

Similarly I now understand how revolutionary Cubism truly was. Multiple truths. Diego Rivera’s Young Man in a Gray Sweater draws you back again and again. I came away from the exhibition knowing that Cubism could provide the structure for a fascinating literary novel. What I need is a protagonist strong enough to stand the multiple, fractured analysis.

There were other compelling, eye-opening artworks in the exhibition. I can’t remember the title of a three panel piece that resonated with the moon shot photography opposite it. Don’t you hate it when your memory fails? Seeing the allusive hint of the impact of the moon landing in 1969 (I remember the date of the piece was 1973) strengthened my respect for the creativity and energy that went into the exhibition.

But my favourite painting was Georges Braque’s Road Near L’Estaque. Slabs of colour shading into one another. It felt very much like the Tour de France that I’ve been watching on TV for the landscape shots. Then again, who knows why something appeals to us. It just does.

Stories without words. Wonderful.

Art Gallery of WA – State Art Collection

Sometimes life holds some joyous surprises. I wandered into Perth on the weekend and ended up visiting the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Since I can never work out who holds what copyright, I’ll share an old photo of the gardens outside it, rather than the artworks inside — which is a shame because the art is good.

Anyway, once inside the gallery, I pursued my usual strategy of not knowing what I wanted to see, but just looking. That brought me to the Your Collection 1800-Today exhibition and in particular to its Your Collection 1800-1920: Here and There section which was housed in the older section of the gallery, a location that worked perfectly.

Having a memory like a sieve, I can’t tell you the names of the artists or their creations, but I saw wonderful old glass, paintings of life a hundred years ago and fabulous watercolours and sketches of Fremantle and Albany. The latter was fun to try and match current day landscapes to those of more than a century ago. I do remember that a painting by Arthur Boyd finally showed me why he’s so famous. Though I wish I could remember its name! The mountains in the background heaved with life.

The exhibition was a lovely experience outside of time. Quiet, reflective and yet humming with the energy of much-loved art. It reminded why I like the Art Gallery of WA: It always offers a visitor a welcome and a gift.