Oldies but goodies…

Pre-loved Art Auction

Works from the collection of the late Colin Laverty will be auctioned in Sydney 24 March. Currently on view in Melbourne 15-17 March. Years ago I visited the Lavertys’ house in Balmain, a large modern building on the water’s edge. I had tagged along with a gallerist friend. Their main living area was a stupendous  cave of treasures — hung salon-style to the ceiling with paintings. And built into one wall was a series of gallery racks — like a painting compacta. Their collection was wide, varied and evidently bought with an engaged interest, with an especial eye for Aboriginal works. This auction features “contemporary Australian art.”

From the collection: one of the best Larwills I’ve seen, Tribal 1983

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Two more weeks to catch Jeffrey Smart

Ends April 1, no joke. The Smart show at Tarrawarra is tight little survey packed with very good work. It includes what is probably his last major piece, Labyrinth, painted in 2011 when Smart was 90; it’s a poignant final gesture. I mentioned the show to an artist the other day who is working on her PhD. She shocked me by asking how was Smart important to Australian art history. I may not be a big fan of Smart but his oeuvre is of a quality (surely) beyond dispute. He worked away at achieving what Robert Nelson calls “the authority of figuration” in a time when that approach was fully out of fashion. And he has achieved what very few artists do: colonise a space or a place. We all know what Smartland looks like — the geometry of the industrial-urban unexpectedly become poetry. Only a tiny number of groovy contemporary artists here will leave a mark as distinct or distinctive as Smart’s. It’s a good show, worth the drive.

From the show: Labyrinth 2011

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Fred Williams at Niagara

A singular chance to see landscapes made by Fred Williams in his great flowering, 1957-1960, when he arrived back from London. Widow Williams, Lyn, is astutely and loyally showing the group at Niagara before it disperses into disparate homes and institutions. I understand the Williams show at Fed Square wasn’t a huge hit last year but if you like the idea of Australian landscape painting this show is essential. Until 23 March.

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Cloud Atlas, Cloud Nine, or at least Eight

Why have the critics been so ambivalent about and confused by Cloud Atlas? A friend picked this movie as the longest time we could stay out of the sun for the price of a ticket. The 172 minutes whizzed by and the three of us enjoyed it immensely. The exposition of the multiple strands emerged from complexity into a lucid jigsaw, and if it didn’t move us to weepy depths, it was expansive and exhilirating and funny and had many moments of persuasive feeling. A future cult hit — it will accommodate repeated viewings. I look forward to the next encounter whenever serendipity allows. I might even read the book.

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