This is what happens when art worlds collide

I was at yum cha when in rolled the three severed heads of Buddha: Fear, Malice and Death Chinese ink on paper, Jason Phu
I was at yum cha when in rolled the three severed heads of Buddha: Fear, Malice and Death
Chinese ink on paper, Jason Phu

Sometimes the art world goes into overdrive and last weekend it was insane. Three big visual art events collided – Sydney Contemporary, Spring 1883 and The Other Art Fair. Add to this the closing weeks of the Archibald Prize and it was a deadly combination.

Sydney Contemporary
Stoked up by a coffee from the Eveleigh Markets, we scooted into the old railway workshops (where both my grandfathers, my dad and even my brother briefly worked) and into an ‘expo’ of artworks.

Who is gonna clean up this mess, 2015; Joan Ross, hand painted pigment on cotton rag paper
Who is gonna clean up this mess, 2015; Joan Ross, hand painted pigment on cotton rag paper

Once I was brave enough to step over the invisible line between me and the exhibitors, it was an incredible joy seeing such stunning work by Australian and overseas artists.

Jason Phu: we bought a little spewing and shitting print from the Cicada Press stall (once COFA now NSW Art & Design). It was only later I realised he won the Sulman Prize this year, so that was kind of serendipitous

Tony Albert: I’ve got a little crushy-crush on Tony Albert, he works with paper and collage and paint and artefacts and sculpture. He’s always pushing boundaries in crazy ways, like this sculpture in collaboration with Stephen Page.

Tony Albert (Sullivan + Strumpf) and Stephen Page
Tony Albert (Sullivan + Strumpf) and Stephen Page

Joan Ross: I’d only ever known Joan Ross in video form, but here she was on display with magnificent hand-painted pigment on cotton rag paper, courtesy of Michael Reid.

Alex Seton: As a sculpture fanatic, it was great to see Alex’s work in the foyer – and seeing his particularly relevant refugee-boat-people-themed work continuing. Knowing he’s about to open a show in Beijing, he’s about to hit cult status.

The silly folks at Sullivan + Strumpf couldn't tell me the title of this work by Alex Seton
The silly folks at Sullivan + Strumpf couldn’t tell me the title of this work by Alex Seton

Ben Quilty: Ben’s first new works, he’s moved into a series of grotesques. They’re ugly and without a price tag, you know you can’t afford them.

Dale Frank: Dale’s work seemed to be everywhere. Having first fallen in love with Frank’s work at the Dark Heart exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia. Most of the work we saw had taken a darker turn with black and blue palettes that you could disappear into.

Noel McKenna: The sparse naivety of his works are always a joy to see. Especially the ones with dogs.

Spring 1883.

We loved Spring 1883 at the Windsor Hotel in Melbourne, so we were excited about the Spring 1883 show at The Establishment. These are regular hotel rooms turned into impromptu exhibition spaces, with works on walls, on beds and in bathrooms.

In one room, a man lay on a bed with a sheet draped over his naked body, for all intentions asleep but with a large prosthetic penis hanging out. As we walked in an old lady was taking a close up photo of his junk.

Work by Noel McKenna, again, no-one could tell me the title...
Work by Noel McKenna, again, no-one could tell me the title…

I loved KARATE by Robert MacPherson with Yuill Crowley gallery, and there was a nice Noel McKenna on a bed. It was good to see Gemma Smith works with Sarah Cottier but by the time I got there I was too hot and tired and hungry to do justice to this show. Melbourne’s Spring 1883 was far more thoughtful, more spacious rooms, far more engaging. Then again I may have just been hungry. Very hungry. Hangry even.

The Other Art Fair

Up on level 3 of Central Park shops, The Other Art Fair was the first inaugural showing in Sydney by the global TOAF brand. 80 artists were squeezed together, in tiny little shop fronts which were very cute. Nice to see how some artists curated their booths – some jammed with work, others featuring their favourite work. Completely affordable and diverse, it was great to see emerging artists in a space where there could directly engage collectors and sell their work.

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