Sunday, October 11, 2009

The art gallery...

Had a rather busy Saturday yesterday. It began with brunch with some friends at a restaurant by the banks of the Yarra and ended with a night out at the Greyhound watching some weird-ass tropical-themed drag finale.

Perhaps the thing that stuck out the most for me yesterday came from a visit to an aboriginal art gallery that is about to put on a show of artworks from one of my favourite (and also one of the newest) art communities located in Western Australia. The NGV had bought half a dozen paintings from their first sellout show a couple of years ago (some of which are currently hanging on the walls at the Ian Potter Centre at Fed Square). It will be a much anticipated show. Several of the paintings have already been purchased even before the show began (including two pieces for the NGV). What struck me, however, was the quality of the works. Some were beautiful but there were also some that were real shockers. Yes, I is subjective and what may be a shocker to one person may be seen as a masterpiece to another but some of the pieces were of genuinely poor quality (even the person working at the gallery was amazed that they had made their way out of the studio). I guess even the best artists occassionally produce crap. However, whereas most non-indigenous artists would be self-selecting, Aboriginal artists may not necessarily share (or understand) the aesthetics of hungry art consumers and, in the aboriginal art world, there is a greater role for the mangers of the community art centres to impose quality control and to ensure only the 'best' works go out to market. The pressure and demand for aboriginal works, however, is intense and poor quality works routinely appear for sale. At the end of the day, I think it does a huge injustic to the artists.

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