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Sunday, 28 August 2011
ART SUNDAY - SURREALISM AT GoMA
“You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’” - George Bernard Shaw
While in Brisbane I managed to get to the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), which is hosting a major new exhibition of Dali, Magritte, Miró, Picasso, Man Ray and other surrealists in an exhibition titled: “Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams”. This exhibition highlights Europe’s most extensive collection of surrealist works from the Musée National d’ Art Moderne at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The GoMA, which opened in December 2006, is part of the Queensland Art Gallery building and is found at Kurilpa Point only 150 metres from the Queensland Art Gallery building. The GoMA focusses on the art of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
The Musée National d’Art Moderne, in Paris’s Centre Pompidou, is one of the world’s best museum collections of modern and contemporary art. Its Surrealism collections are the finest in Europe. It is form here that key surrealist works have been selected to stage the GoMA exhibition which presents more than 180 works by 56 artists, including paintings, sculptures, ‘surrealist objects’, films, photographs, drawings and collages. The exhibition is an excellent opportunity to see important art works that rarely leave Paris, and gain a fascinating and comprehensive overview of an important artistic movement.
A historical record of Surrealism is charted by the art in this exhibition, beginning with the Dada experiments in painting, photography and film, through the metaphysical questioning and exploration of the subconscious in the paintings of Giorgio De Chirico and Max Ernst; to the readymade objects of Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray’s photographs. Gaining ascendency in the early 1920s, the movement’s development is recorded by the writings of Surrealism’s founder André Breton and key early works by André Masson. Paintings and sculptures by surrealists Salvador Dalí, Rene Magritte, Victor Brauner, Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti, Max Ernst, Fernand Léger and Paul Delvaux are all included.
Film and photography are also represented throughout the exhibition, including films by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, René Clair and Man Ray. Important photographic works by Hans Bellmer, Brassaï, Claude Cahun, Dora Maar, Eli Lotar and Jacques-André Boiffard also feature. The exhibition is rounded out with late works that show the breadth of Surrealism’s influence, and includes major works by Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky and Joseph Cornell. “Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams” is accompanied by an innovative Children’s Art Centre program, a range of public programs, including talks, discussions and performances, and a full-colour exhibition catalogue.
The Queensland GoMA was closed immediately after the Brisbane floods of January 2011, but reopened in March. In July 2002, Sydney-based company Architectus was commissioned by the Queensland Government following an Architect Selection Competition, to design the Gallery. A main theme of Architectus’s design is a pavilion in the landscape, one which assumes its position as both hub and anchor for this important civic precinct. Critical to this is the building’s response to the site, its natural topography, existing patterns of urban generation, and the river.
The image above is by René Magritte and is titled “Les marches de l’été” (The Steps of Summer) - 1938. It typifies surrealist works, in that incongruous images are superimposed to create a dream-like atmosphere of ambiguous and confronting reality. Magritte’s fascination with fractured mountainous landscapes in which some human elements are placed is shown in this painting, with its cube sky and neatly excavated trench. The female torso on the ledge challenges with its colour and texture. It looks like a classical statue but it its flesh-like upper half and its clay-like bottom half disorient the viewer. Even the title of the work is challenging and mystifies, rather than being explanatory. But such is surrealism: It highlights the creative potential of the unconscious mind by the irrational juxtaposition of often realistically rendered images.
I have been blogging daily on this platform for several years now. It is surprising that I have persisted as the world is changing and "microblogging" is now the norm. I blog to amuse myself, make comment on current affairs, externalise some of my creativity, keep notes on things that interest me, learn something new and to surprise myself with things that I discover about this wonderful, and sometimes crazy, world we live in.
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