Australia Felix

Aug 4th – Aug 28th, 2011
Reception: Aug 4th, 6-9 pm
Location: The Icebox & Grey Area
Hours: Wed – Sun 12-6pm

Curated by Ross Woodrow

The seventeen artists exhibiting collectively represent an impressive snapshot of the best senior and emerging artists working in Australia. Judy Watson and Jenny Watson have represented Australia at the Venice Biennale. Of the younger brigade in the show, Julie Fragar and Madeleine Kelly have both been represented in the national showcase exhibition of the best of young Australian artists, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

The exhibition has been curated by Ross Woodrow, who set the artists the difficult task of responding to the title Australia Felix (Fortunate Australia). To concentrate or complicate their thinking, he proposed the exhibition as a belated response to one of the first major showcases of contemporary Australian art in the United States. That was the 1984 Exxon sponsored Australian Visions in the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

This show couldn’t be more different from that exhibition of almost thirty years ago. It is not dominated by painting, as that show was. The gender balance has tipped in favour of female artists and unlike the 1984 show, artists from Indigenous backgrounds are included. In this selection, the exhibition reflects the reality of the situation in Australia. However, few if any of these artists would be claiming to represent anything other than their own history and heritage. And, as visitors to the exhibition will see, the individuals do not converge to a single vision or consensus to represent Australia. Rather than establishing the parameters for a national identity, this exhibition instead highlights the impossibility of such a task.

All of the artists are associated as staff, postgraduates or adjuncts with one of
Australia’s leading art schools, the Queensland College of Art (QCA), in Brisbane. Having been established 130 years ago, QCA is also the oldest art school in Australia and is amalgamated with Griffith University one of the younger, most innovative universities in the nation, celebrating its fortieth birthday this year.

A number of the artists already have some connection to the art community in Philadelphia. Mostyn Bramley-Moore, a senior Australian painter who trained in New York, has long established links with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Judy Watson and Debra Porch both have worked in Philadelphia’s Fabric Workshop and Museum and Ian Burns has taught at Tyler School of Art, Temple University.
This exhibition will cement these tentative linkages that have been made between Queensland College of Art and the vibrant contemporary-art institutions in Philadelphia.

Featuring the work of Angela Blakely, David Lloyd, Bill Platz, Debra Porch, Donna Marcus, Gordon Hookey Ian Burns, Jay Younger, Jennifer Herd, Jenny Watson, Judy Watson, Julie Fragar, Madeleine Kelly, Marian Drew, Mostyn Bramley-Moore, Pat Hoffie, Sebastian Di Mauro

(above: Fragar, Julie. Looking For D Rection, oil on board,40 x 60 cm, 2009)

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