David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

24 April 2009

John Brack retrospective at Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria

JOHN BRACK : a retrospective of the art of John Brack opens today at the Ian Potter Centre of the National Gallery of Victoria.

bLOGOS/HA HA is a great admirer of John Brack and his art.

What is chance? By chance, John Brack's 1971 exhibition of his paintings of nudes and Persian carpets (plus the portrait Barry Humphries in the Character of Mrs Everidge) at Joseph Brown's tiny gallery at the top of Collins Street was the first commercial exhibition your correspondent ever attended. One afternoon some fellow architecture students announced they were off to see Freda's father's exhibition. Did I want to come along? I didn't know Freda's dad was an artist. I didn't know Freda's surname. That's her below, with the flowers : The Girls at School, John Brack, 1959.

To my ready mind the exhibition was magic and my experience of it a palpable hit exacerbated by a vertigo from the floating carpets, the absence of shadows and the playfully uncertain multiple vanishing points of the floorboards, this plus the intoxicating perfume of fresh oil paint and varnish that permeated the confined space. Brack instantly became my model and standard.

The photo below shows artist Lisa Roberts, one of Brack's models for this series, looking at her depiction in The Pink Carpet, 1971. At her website, she recalls that experience in some detail. ( click here )

Gabriella Coslovitch has written several JOHN BRACK preview articles for The Age in recent days. ( here and here ) These also give a portrait of the admirable Helen Brack, John's wife, the artist Helen Maudsley.

bLOGOS/HA HA is always intrigued to note the publicity and photography associated with NGV exhibitions. Most recently noted was this one. Get the picture? Pictures R US

Yesterday, again in The Age, this.

bLOGOS/HA HA has written before about the adventures of the subversive/superversive Golden Guillotine group. Are they also behind these chameleon scenarios of the NGV?

It would seem this institution's representative viewer either assumes or, more sinister, has imposed upon them some approximation to the appearance of each object of their gaze.

In yesterday's three-frames setting below (photo: Rebecca Hallas) the viewer is garbed in the palette of Portrait of Hal Hattam.
I come
I behold
I become

Before this, at the icon to the right, the guise was classic b&w. Cool, sharp, corporate. Now, as she approaches the Act Three (of Past/Present/Future) projection-space, Portrait of Fred Williams, and enters into that, her appearance will change again. Tweed, I'm guessing.

It is not evident whether or not this morphing also involves changes of mind.

P.S. The next morning, Anzac Day. Unusually, awoke just before dawn. Thoughts of those attending Dawn Service; thoughts of the infinitude of empty emptinesses (after Leonard Cohen's "There is a crack in everything/ That's how the light gets in" and Zeno's paradox). Later, ABC Classic FM plays Arvo Pärt's dolorous Spiegel im Spiegel. It seems appropriate.

I've just looked at the Wiki reference to this work ( here ) and it underlines that feeling and the dawn thoughts:
"Spiegel im Spiegel" in German literally can mean both "mirror in the mirror" as well as "mirrors in the mirror", referring to the infinity of images produced by parallel plane mirrors: the tonic triads are endlessly repeated with small variations as if reflected back and forth.
Am writing this as a post script rather than a new post because it seems to continue yesterday's observations about chameleon and mirror happenings. Here's a drawing done yesterday.

P.P.S. That Leonard Cohen quote above comes from a very suitable Anzac Day song. ( Lyrics from here )

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government --
signs for all to see.

I can't run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they've summoned, they've summoned up
a thundercloud
and they're going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring ...

You can add up the parts
but you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in