Friday, November 16, 2012

Assessment exhibition

This Thursday i was forbidden to come onto campus. The markers were in!

On Monday/Tuesday I was required to set up an exhibition of key works, informed by my prior Contextual Studies Paper and oral presentation at a Post Grad Critique.

At 5.30pm i was allowed back on campus for post exam drinkies - a pleasant hour and a half where friends and gallery owners could peruse and ponder this year's crop. My allotted exhibition space was modest but enabled me to put up eight of the sixty-odd works i have created over the last three years. Adjoining my area were several other gallery alcoves where fellow students had set up their assessment exhibitions - mainly  installations. The pics below tell a little of the story.

Meanwhile, in a neighbouring lecture theatre, i had piled up the other 52 (called 'support materials' - a vaguely dismissive term, i always thought), and  my journals. 

I won't find out the result until the end of November when i will be given a grade and written report. But on the night people were very kind. Though i still really have no sense of the merit or otherwise of what i done. 

So my biggest lift came when one of the staff actually BOUGHT one of my paintings from the exhibition! 

Harry Kent, Dark night, oil on board, 60x90cm. SOLD

What pleased me so much was the genuine engagement with the image that this purchase signified. And that the buyer, a man of quiet intensity, is someone i respect.  Until that moment, it had felt rather strange to have strangers wander past my agonised self portraits like they were window-shoppers and i was one of the consumables of the evening. There is blood in these works, my blood. But on the night, it's all quips and smiles as we enter into a tacit conspiracy that life is simply one entertainment after another.

So now i read through the reams of instructions for the graduation ceremony (assuming i will be graduating) with all those icky arrangements for gown hire etc. I think i'll just pull my doctoral gown and hood out of moth balls and save myself $160 gown hire.Hoping my fellow graduands won't mind. 


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Brett Whiteley's starry night


Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley's starry night, oil on canvas, 120x270cm.

My final work in the Brett Whiteley series, and the final work towards to Masters degree, is this triptych celebrating Brett Whiteley's  apotheosis ...  his ascension into Australia's cultural firmament - a star at last.

The 270x120 cm work consists of three 90x120cm panels:
Brett Whiteley departs Thirroul
Peter Pan over Lavender Bay
Brett Whiteley illumines our firmament
While each panel is intended to work as a self-contained painting, the work was envisaged as the three placed together to form a complete narrative.

To date my Brett Whiteley series has consisted of numerous works, among others, that explored his vulnerability, isolation and depression so I wanted to finish with this more joyous celebration of his achievement.

The triptych references Vincent's painting Starry night (HERE). I felt this was a fitting motif given that Whiteley worshiped Vincent. He was painting portraits of Vincent in the early 1970's and in 1983 had his his exhibition 'Another way of looking at Vincent Van Gogh' hung by the Gallery of NSW. Brett's tribute received a hostile reception from the critics. One mocked that Brett has been struggling to become Vincent for the past fifteen years. So i thought it only a reasonable gift to Brett to allow him to ascend at last into Vincent's starry heavens.

Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley departs Thirroul, oil on canvas, 90x120cm.

This first panel depicts Brett's spirit departing the hotel in Thirroul where he died. He heads upward, out over the East coast of NSW. He seems to be entering a portal on the right of the painting.

Harry Kent, Peter Pan over Lavender Bay, oil on canvas, 90x120cm.

That portal turns out to be the window from his painting, Interior with time past (HERE) with its window of his home looking out over Lavender Bay on Sydney Harbour. And so i depicted Brett's spirit, Brett the eternal boy Peter Pan, flying past outside under the Southern Cross (this is my Oz night sky, not Vincent's French one), sailing over the Opera House sails that reference his painting Opera House (HERE).

Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley illumines our firmament, oil on canvas, 90x120cm.

In the third panel he takes his place in the pantheon of stars twinkling down onto the Australian cultural landscape, down on his home town of Sydney and the bridge that used to draw and paint so often, down on those savage critics whose names are already forgotten, and down on the young generations energised by just discovering his work for the first time. This is Brett at his zenith, Harlequin funster and mystic, arms raised in haunting and blessing.

And so, gentle viewer, we arrive at the end of this my Brett Whiteley meditations, and indeed, the end of my Masters research Project. In the next couple of posts I will be reporting on the assessment and giving some thought on where to next with this blog, if anywhere. Thank you one and all for sticking with me through this journey.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

More apparitions


Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley's apparition #9, oil on board, 60x90cm.

Here are some, the last, of my Brett Whiteley apparitions. Apparition #9 (above) is my exploration of how much or how little is needed to suggest a face. How clouded, ambiguous, or anomalous can a portrait be? I was thinking about Vincent's comment in a letter to Theo, "The real painter does not paint things as they are, after a dry and learned analysis. They paint them as they themselves feel them to be ... I want my paintings to be inaccurate and anomalous in such a way that they become lies, if you like, but lies that are more truthful than literal truth."

 The others below are two more inks.

Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley's apparition #7, ink on paper, 

These two ink Apparitions are a bit wilder than some of the more graceful inks in my previous post. Picasso once said, "when i paint a wild horse you may not see the horse but you will sure see the wildness'. Well, these Apparitions purport to be Whiteley, and they are loosely featured on his curly mop, cleft chin, low straight mouth and baggy eyes, but in reality they are invented Expressionist figuration. Which means the wildness is not Whiteley's but mine own, i guess. But then as they used to say in the Renaissance"Ogni pittore dipinge sè" (Every painter paints himself).

Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley's apparition #8, ink on paper, 

And finally, my apologies everyone for the delay in responding your lovely comments on the previous post. I've only just returned from a trip away to Sydney and have been flat out getting ready for my assessment exhibition. Am so looking forward to getting a life back!