Mapping Melbourne Painting

Gary Willis  - Interviews Dr. Michael Vale

mapping melb painting

Michael’s map makes it clear – many artists still claim painting as their ‘weapon of choice.’  His chart opens up a complex terrain.  For me the point is not the minutiae of differentiation – Is this practice ‘Hybrid Abstraction’, ‘Appropriation’ or ‘Synthetic Narrative? – Rather it is that that each of these nuanced sub–genres finds a place within Michael’s map.  The idea that any artist has a fixed place on any map might be something of an anathema to many contemporary painters, who often drift between the relational co–ordinates of such a chart, sliding between cool and hot – figuration and abstraction.   Michael’s map makes it clear that Contemporary painting is no longer defined in terms of the reductive aesthetics of formalist minimalism where painting could be once understood as – ‘cool’ or ‘uncool’. 

Click on this link to see the video - still in production for Art Info

Art and it Double - Fashion

Gary Willis for ISSIMO Magazine

Art Forum 1982ISSIMO Mag 2

Ever since 1983, when Dianna Vreeland mounted the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, attracting more than one million visitors and setting a benchmark for attendance, fashion has meant big business for the museum industry.  In 1982 Germano Celant, the editor of Art Forum, published his ‘Special Fashion Issue’ featuring Issey Miyake’s rattan paraphrase of Samurai practice armor, flagging the forthcoming alliance between ‘the avant-garde and mass culture’; art and fashion.  In 1999, as Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim New York Celant staged the Giorgio Armani retrospective, which also broke all attendance records for the Guggenheim, raising more than $US15 million for the museum.  For Armani the event was written down as a promotional event. More recently, in 2010, the Alexander McQueen retrospective Savage Beauty at the MET New York, again broke all attendance records for the MET. It is easy to understand why the museum industry is keen to embrace fashion as art.

Click here to read the article


Exhibition Review -

Gary Willis on 'Melbourne Now' - NGV

 Lou Hubbard Eye Ops 2013

‘Melbourne Now’ delivers on the comment Tony Elwood made earlier this year; I can’t ask the community to get behind me if I’m not getting behind themCongratulations Tony; it’s so great to see the city’s considerable creativity being celebrated on such a scale. Already the galleries are swarming, just one week into this holiday season blockbuster.

Juan Ford’s interactive wall, ‘You, me and the flock’, where we are all encouraged to stick a bird on the designated wall, is showing signs of over- population, and Juan’s little black birds have begun popping up all around the gallery as the creative kinder have strayed from their flocking wall to think outside the box; sticking their little black birds onto any available surface. Perhaps they see them as some sort of Readymade graffiti tags.

Click on the image above to read the review.

Video interview -

Art School Lite

Steve Cox interviewed by Gary Willis

Steve Cox - Art School lite

Steve Cox has been an artist for 30+ years and spent many of those years teaching at various art schools through-out Melbourne.

Last year, 2012, Steve was dismissed from R.M.I.T. University, as the art department began collapsing the painting dept.

Steve protested that to take out painting was in effect to put an end to the concept of art.

Eventually he began a Facebook page 'Save Art From R.M.I.T. in a bid to garner support for his concerns.

What he did not realise was that the collapse of painting within art school has been something of a global phenomenon.

In this interview 'Art School Lite' with Gary Willis, Steve details his concerns for the future of the Art School. 

Video interview -

The five basic requirements for a Contemporary Artist

Damian Smith interviewed by Gary Willis

Damian Smith- Curator-sml

 Damian introduces his five basic conditions that any 'would-be artist' has to have - to have any chance of success with in the context of Contemporary Art;

1/. Talent 2/. Absolutely Driven 3/. Politically Privileged 4/. Supported 5/. Connected

Damian is currently a PhD candidate at RMIT, focused on contemporary curatorial practice.

I first met Damian Smith in London, 1996.

In face of 10,000 artists working in London, Damian began to re-think his prospects as an artist and went onto work for the Paton Gallery selling Lucian Freud's to Charles Saatchi, before becoming the archivist to the Sid Nolan Estate.

As a director of a public gallery Damian became the vice-president of the Public Galleries Association, Victoria.

Today he runs his own curatorial consultancy, which services a broad cross section of the arts community including; artists, collectors, journals, auction houses, private galleries, public museums & institutions.

Video interview -

Working in the context of contemporary Melbourne Street Culture

Hiroyasu Tsuri interviewed by Gary Willis

Hiroyasu Tsuri sml
Hiroyasu Tsuri has been working as a street artist in Melbourne since he arrived from Yokohama, Japan10 years ago.
He studied 'New Media' at Swinburne University but suggests he has learnt more from working with his friends,
street artists such as; Ghost Patrol, Max Berry & Stuart Campbell. Hiro paints everyday, his work can be seen around the streets of Melbourne as well as in the 
recent ad for the MINI Paceman.

Video interview -

Issues concerning ethics and representation

Godwin Bradbeer interviewed by Gary Willis

Godwin  Gary 2013-sml
Godwin Bradbeer began his career as an artist in the 1960s exhibiting photographs, with his friend Warren Brenninger, at ‘Icarus’ Gallery in Carlton and later at Rennie Ellis’ ‘Brummels’ Gallery in South Yarra. Their images captured the raw beauty and sexualised disaffection of 1960s youth.  
However by the early 70's Bradbeer ran into complex ethical issues regarding representation and proprietorship.
His votive images of andogenous youth proved problematic on a number of levels and in response Godwin exchanged his voyeuristic camera for what appeared to be a classical drawing practice.  Within drawing 'self and other' become interchangeable and Bradbeer found the freedom to wound and damage his votive offerings to the gods without incurring social wrath that comes of voodoo.
In this interview, Godwin unpicks the veiled layers of his exquisite draughtsmanship and reveals the ambiguous relationship between 'self and other' that haunts what would otherwise seem a triumphantly classical practice. The techniques of self-abuse and cutting that eviscerate Bradbeer’s drawings affect an uncanny association to the work of Francis Bacon.
However unlike the work of Britain’s sacred monster, Bradbeer’s work has not always been championed by his own culture.

Exhibition Review -

'Mix Tape 1980s - Appropriation, Subculture & Critical Style'

NGV - Fed Square - Gary Willis for Art

Leigh Bowery - The Metropolitan 1988-sml

This is the first presentation from Max Delany, recently appointed
senior curator of contemporary art at the National Gallery of Victoria (N.G.V.)
Max’s experience with contemporary Australian art is both deep and wide –
having been the director of Gertrude Street Contemporary Art Space, curator of
Heidi Museum of Art before becoming the founding director of Monash University
Museum of Art.

Delany’s ‘MIX TAPE 1980s: Appropriation, Subculture, Critical Style’
provides substance to Tony Elwood’s comment earlier this year; ‘I can’t ask the community to get behind me if I’m not getting
behind them’.

Click on the image above to read the review.

Book - Section

What do artists know? Ed. James Elkins - Penn. State University Press

What's Art Got to Do with it? - Gary Willis (PhD)

What Do Artists Know - Ed. James Elkins - Penn. Univ. Press

What Do Artists Know - Ed. James Elkins - Penn. Univ. PressWhat Do Artists Know? - Now available from Amazon books

What Do Artists Know?, is about the education of artists. The MFA degree is notoriously poorly conceptualized, and now it is giving way to the PhD in art practice. Meanwhile, conversations on freshman courses in studio art continue to be bogged down by conflicting agendas. This book is about the theories that underwrite art education at all levels, the pertinent history of art education, and the most promising current conceptualizations.

The contributors are Glenn Adamson, Rina Arya, Louisa Avgita, Jan Baetens, Su Baker, Jeroen Boomgaard, Brad Buckley, William Conger, John Conomos, Anders Dahlgren, Laurie Fendrich, Michael Fotiadis, Christopher Frayling, Charles Green, Vanalyne Green, Tom McGuirk, Robert Nelson, Hákan Nilsson, Peter Plagens, Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen, Howard Singerman, Henk Slager, George Smith, Martin Søberg, Roy Sorensen, Bert Taken, Janneke Wesseling, Frances Whitehead, Gary Willis, and Yeung Yang.

James Elkins is E. C. Chadbourne Professor in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He coedited the previous volumes in the series, Art and Globalization (Penn State, 2010) and What Is an Image? (Penn State, 2011).

Catalogue Essay - Process/Presence

Curated by Damian Smith for the Museo Italiano

The Production of Cultural Presence – Gary Willis (Ph.D.)

Process-Presence Coversml

In Damian Smith's curated exhibition, ‘PROCESS / PRESENCE - PROCESSO / PRESENZA’, we recognize the implementation of an aesthetics of installation in the conceptual production of cultural presence, an ethos, which has its origins in the de-materialized productions of conceptual artists of the 1960s.

Interestingly, it was the Italian curator Germano Celant, who in 1969, presented conceptual art to a global art world with his seminal publication on the subject, Arte Povera, which represented the work of some 33 artists. A short list of artists included in Arte Povera includes Robert Smithson, Hans Haacke, Eva Hesse, Joseph Beuys, Joseph Kosuth, Michelangelo Pisoletto, Bruce Nauman, Keith Sonnier, Jannis Kounellis, Richard Sierra, Alighiero Boetti, Walter De Maria. Arguably, many of these artists would have exerted an influence on some of the artists presented in Smith’s Processo / Presenza.

For a deeper understanding of the issues at stake in the conceptual movement it is interesting to take a look at Celant’s 1967 manifesto ‘Notes for a Guerrilla War’;

The artist, the apprentice jester, is thus called upon to produce fine commercial merchandise, offering satisfaction to sophisticated palates. Once he has an idea, he has to live for it and off it. Mass production mentality forces him to produce a single object that satisfies the market to the point of saturation. He is not allowed simply to create the object and then to abandon it to its destiny. He has to follow up on it, justify it, introduce it into the channels of distribution; turning himself as artist into a substitute for an assembly line … he becomes a cog in a wheel. His behaviour conditioned into never offering more than a ‘correction’ to the world, perfecting its social structures but never modifying or revolutionizing them. Even though he rejects consumer society, he discovers himself one of its producers. Freedom is an empty word … To exist outside the system, amounts to revolution. 

Read more ...?

Monograph - Australian Scholarly Publishing

Tony Woods - An Archive

Gary Willis - 'Tony Woods - Harkness Fellow - New York - 1968-1969' 


This essay has also been published in its entirity in ISSIMO Magazine (First Issue)

under the title of 'Back to Bohemia - The Chelsea Hotel Revisited'