Currently on holiday in Ocean Grove, near Melbourne, staying with my son and his partner, I’ve been fortunate to visit two very inspiring and stimulating exhibitions in the City. Whenever I visit an art exhibition, I’m happy if I find just a couple of images that really resonate with me and help me gain a greater understanding of the world around me. I certainly found that this week.
Picasso Century at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne) explores the many different phases and styles of Picasso’s long career, alongside the work of his peers who both influenced him and were influenced by him. A beautifully presented exhibition with a unique take on Picasso (1881-1973), there were so many works I’d never seen before, both by Picasso and other artists. Whole rooms were dedicated to the different genres such as Cubism, Surrealism and Classicism. I learned that Dora Maar, one of Picasso’s many lovers, was herself a photographer and surrealist artist.
L. Portrait of a Woman (Dora Maar) Pablo Picasso 1938
R. Hand-shell, Dora Maar
QUEER, also at the NGV was a fascinating and far-reaching exploration of LGBTQ related material from the NGV archives, from Roman times to the present.
In this exhibition, I was greatly moved by the silent dual video pieces called Ruel and Bram. Two young men stare at the camera, blinking but otherwise motionless. The artist, Drew Pettifer (b 1980) aims to draw attention to forgotten queer history.
In 1727, two men aged 18 and 22 were on board the Zeewijk, a ship belonging to the Dutch East India Company. Found to be lovers they were convicted of sodomy and, as punishment, left marooned to die on separate islands on an archipelago off Western Australia.
This work sent shivers down my spine. The use of present day photographs tells us that these were real young men who lived and loved. 300 years ago, this might have been my son and his partner.