Saturday, March 12, 2011

Abstract Distractions

A man and a woman, finding their way into love, meet each other at an art gallery, and they spend the afternoon wandering around gazing at paintings on walls.The art they see generates discussion, and evokes some mirth, as they learn more about each other, in a very indirect and non threatening way.This is a cliche which belongs in the middle of a romantic comedy but there is something profoundly true about how people react to art, and both find and reveal themselves through it.

Yesterday I was at the Art Gallery of New South Wales with my daughter. We came upon a wall size portrait which took my breath away. I stood and stared at it for a long time, fascinated by the way the family in the painting seemed so lifelike yet very ethereal at the same time. The artist, Zhang Xiaogang, had captured the watery sheen of the human eye yet there was a strong unreality about the faces. Maybe it was the size of the portrait. Maybe it was the haunting shades of grey Xiaogang used to depict the husband, wife and child. Whatever it was, it was magical. Kiwi artist Godfrey Miller, used straight lines and colour to amazing effect in his Nude and the Moon. I was entranced as I imagined the passionate dedication required to bring his vision to life on canvas. If I could afford such masterpieces, I would love to hang them in my home.

On the other hand, there were paintings which left us shaking our heads and suppressing laughter at why they should be considered worthy of a place on the wall of our state gallery. I was very disappointed with Brett Whitely's half hearted attempt to paint a shower rose in one of his works, and Tony Tuckson, needs to explain to an art heathen like myself, what he had in mind when he brushed five vertical strokes on a canvas and called it Five White Lines.

I appreciated the hours and hours of labour that must have gone in to the production of these works of art. I admired the dedication to craft, and I could feel the intensity with which the artists had painted. Some of the works were eye catching, clever, and thought provoking. I was taken on a journey as a strolled the polished floor of the gallery. It was beautiful and I was awestruck at the creation of such sublime artistry.

Then I thought of God who spoke this magnificent earth, and the mind numbingly massive diversity of life upon it, into existence, and I was humbled.

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