Friday, December 12, 2014

Newcastle Art Gallery - Kilgour Prize & Beard's, Mo's and Bro's

You’ve got to love the Kilgour if for no other reason than witnessing the gathering of a crowd of hopefuls picked from far and wide all waiting with bated breath to see who’ll steal away with the bonanza.  It’s Newcastle’s Archibald!  This year’s lucky contender is Alan Jones.  Had me hoping for a minute it was the illustrious leader of talkback radio branching out into a new career ready to insult our intelligence in the more painterly fashion.  But alas no.  This Alan Jones hails from Gosford and a quick google search revealed the credentials of this artist held him aloft.  The work titled “Robert Forrester #2” is a detailed analysis of the artists ancestral past.  It’s a fiery bit of gear with Forrester brandishing a spikey aura that cuts deeply into future generations.  Wreaking havoc in ignorant bliss is the luxury of our ancestors, benignly unaware of the legacy they cast.  And that is what’s to love about Jones’s work. That jittery impact is felt with the discordant foreground running juxtaposition to the calm permanence of the land in the background.  It’s a winner.

But let’s face it.  These art prizes are terse and wiry and can leave one feeling like they’ve been left out in the cold.  It can be a random act of treachery and the backdraft significant.  Longevity is key and setbacks are aplenty so try and try again is the mantra.  Local artist Rachel Milne was chosen as a finalist this year.  Her work is a seductive combination of paint and brush marks.  The juicy application of oil highlights the viscous quality of the medium.  And who would have thought the comedian Ahn Do came complete with an affinity with paint.  In the style of a Ben Quilty Do exerts his power and renders a spot on portrait.  And no one can pass up a Michael Bell!  His work is witty, mastered and sincere.  In this exhibition The Park has all the clarity of one single moment in time painted with sureness.

Also on exhibition is a salute to the pop culture phenomenon right here, right now: the beard.  Once the mark of the ultimate dag, now the status symbol of the hip and happening, Beards, Mo’s and Bro’s takes us on a journey through a fella’s world via their facial hair.  This exhibition realises the depth of the gallery collection and the limited space available for the permanent viewing of the works.  The shame of it.  Ben Quilty, John Perceval and William Dobell are amongst the exhibitors.  It is a delight to see Dallas Bray’s 2008 Kilgour prize amongst them.  The Kilgour Prize along with Beards, Mo’s and Bro’s is on exhibit until the 25th of January 2015 at Newcastle Art Gallery.

Kerri Smith
Guest Reviewer

8th November 2014 – 25th January 2014

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