When I am in Sydney I always try to visit the Art Gallery of NSW, I am a member and I love going into the member’s room to have lunch and browse the books in the library there. I have attended life drawing workshops in the meeting room adjacent – an excellent exercise. As a country member I get into the exhibitions for free and in early May 2014 I saw the exhibition of ancient Afghani gold and turquoise treasure as well as the 2013 Art Express exhibition. I enjoyed both, but found myself drawn to review some of my favourite pieces in the gallery.
I loved the drama of the entrance with its installation by Nike Savvas and happened by when the piano tuner was working prior to a function and the ceiling alive with thousands of coloured plastic strips was reflected in the lid of the grand piano……
A painting that hangs next to one of those stunning views of Sydney near the Royal Botanic Gardens is Ben Quilty’s Archibald Prize winning portarait of Margaret Olley. To me this is a masterpiece. It totally captures a face that has been weathered by the years with the absolute minimum of marks, it is essentially a drawing with oil paint. There is a lot of empty canvas interspersed with incredible lumps of paint in many colours. The hand of a master knew just where to place those paint blobs so that the eyes look alive and the generosity of character of the sitter shines through. Anyway I study it every time I visit.
In the same area is a statue of Angaston (South Australian) marble by Rayner Hoff – ‘Australian Venus’ which I think is an incredibly beautiful depiction of the female form. It dates from around 1927
In the gallery close by are some iconic works. I particularly like to examine the detail of the works, and look at the ‘insides’ so to speak.
This sculpture by Marea Gazzard has a fabulous textured surface, which reflects light in a fascinating way.
I just love the brushwork and the colourplay in this section of Sidney Nolan’s ‘Pretty Polly Mine.’
It could all be scribble, but it evokes the surface of Australia from the height of an airplane – creek beds, salt pans and bush. John Olsen
Extraordinary colours in all their intensity – Sidney Ball.
I adore Brett Whiteley’s seagull progressing against a jacaranda blue Sydney Harbour.