27 May 1993

Purves calls off closure of paddington galleries

INSIDE SYDNEY: Australian Galleries director Stuart Purves yesterday revealed that he no longer intends to wind down his Sydney operation.
"I've done enough airing of my emotions," Purves told Inside Sydney. "It's been tight. I've been wounded and depressed and said we would close.
"But then I gathered myself again, and now it's business as usual. I probably should have said nothing."
Purves announced in January that his million-dollar, four-year experiment at the sumptuous Paddington gallery would close - and Australian would consolidate from its Melbourne base.
"We'd made all the necessary arrangements and our bank was encouraging us to close," he said. "But right at the point when we were about to make the move - literally in the last few months - the market began to lift.
"And there's nothing like a couple of sales to give an art dealer a personality change."
In response, Purves has restructured his organisation to revitalise the Sydney end.
"Janine Purves, my wife, will be taking a much more active role," he confirmed. "She'll be based in Sydney, and I'm going to oversee the whole thing more from Melbourne.
"I'm taking my Sydney administrator Marie-Claire Courtin with me. She's the best personal assistant in the gallery world."
Purves has also appointed Stella Downer, who managed Macquarie Galleries for seven years, as his Sydney manager.
Australian Galleries was established in Melbourne in 1956 by Anne Purves(Stuart's mother) and her late husband Thomas, and has been a mainstay of the country's art establishment ever since.
But the Sydney gallery was Stuart Purves's initiative: "I started Sydney because I wanted to make a stroke in my own lifetime.
"Tim Storrier found this building for us, and Brett Whiteley designed it on the back of an envelope. Alexander Michael, the interior designer, then did all the detailing and we worked on it for 57 working weeks.
"It cost just under $600,000 to purchase - and we spent a good deal more than that again just doing it up. We realised we were over-capitalising, but we felt that wasn't the point.
"We had to spend the money - not only to get the sort of space we wanted, but also to demonstrate a commitment to Sydney."
That commitment was shaken earlier this year when John Olsen, after 20 years with Australian Galleries, went to Gene Sherman's nearby Goodhope Gallery.
"I certainly felt flat when John moved on," Purves said. "But there's life after Olsen and I wish him well."
Purves added he's ridden the "boom and bust", and that the art market has finally begun to stabilise.
"From 1986 to 1988 it went through the roof - and we all thought we were catching up with Europe and our hard work was paying off," he recalled.
"But what you found out was the money wasn't there. Like everything else, people were buying paintings with money they said they were going to make.
"So it all went over the top and we were just kidding ourselves.
"But the markets are like the oceans - they find their own level. And prices have come back to a level where everyone can participate."
Australian has Sydney shows planned for John Coburn, Daevida Allen and Justin O'Brien.
Caption: Illus: "Enough of airing of my emotions...." Stuart Purves to keep galleries going. Picture by MICHELE MOSSOP
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Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 26-5-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 2
Section: News and Features
Length: 675
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First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

26 May 1993

AIDS painter captures canvas of life

INSIDE SYDNEY: At 26, William Barber has already seen 130 friends and acquaintances die from AIDS.
Two years ago Barber himself discovered he had the virus - and tonight at Newtown's Bare Gallery he'll open his first exhibition of paintings and poetry which tell of his experience.
"I want to show that, even though you have a terminal illness, there's always the opportunity to do more," he said yesterday.
"My art is straight from the heart. When a friend dies, that's when I paint or write.
"Or sometimes I'll paint a friend who has just found out they're HIV - to catch them when they're happy and healthy."
Barber painted one work the day he found he was going to die. He called it Diagnosis. "A couple of days later I was so depressed I ripped it to pieces," he said. "Since then I've stuck it back together, to show I've felt that way but worked through it."
The show chronicles not only the human impact of the AIDS pandemic , but one man's efforts to come to terms with it.
"I've lost so many friends to AIDS, and this work is about them," he said.
"At least when I die, there'll be a record of how somebody felt as they went through it.
"But the main reason I'm having the exhibition is to show those people who've helped me out of the doldrums, that their support has paid dividends."
People like Sister Noelene White of the Good Shepherd Community at Kings Cross.
"William is a person who's confronting HIV," said White. "He hasn't given up on life.
"Instead he's made the courageous move to bring something positive out of his situation.
"He's using his experience to educate others. He addresses adolescents and helps them understand that people with HIV are, first and foremost, people."
Barber believes his exhibition of vivid, semi-abstract works is premature. But he realises time is not on his side.
"I always thought I'd be a serious artist when I was 50 or 60," he said. "Now I know I'm not going to have the chance to get to that stage.
"I don't want to make people accept me. I just want them to understand."
Caption: Illus: Fighting on ... Artist William Barber with his dog Monty in front of his painting Headspace. Picture by ANDREW MEARES
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Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 25-5-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 2
Section: News and Features
Length: 480
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First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

21 May 1993

Venice selection boosts Cottier's launch

Sarah Cottier's Newtown gallery, due to open later this year, is the talk of the Sydney gallery set - especially with the selection of one of her young stars, Hany Armanious, for the prestigious Venice Biennale next month.
Armanious is one of only five Australian artists ever selected for Venice.
Cottier had planned to stay quiet about her venture - not scheduled to open for six months yet - until her stable was finalised. But her hand has been forced by the selection of her hottest prospect for the 45th Venice Biennale.
Cottier told Inside Sydney yesterday: "Hany has been selected for Aperto, which functions as a platform for emerging artists under 40.
"It's very prestigious - and Hany was delighted, if bemused, when he found out."
Armanious's star is rising rapidly - his work has appeared in four major shows in the past year: the Sydney Biennale; Wit's End at the Museum of Contemporary Art; Shirthead at Mori Annexe; and Monster Field at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery.
Cottier described Armanious's work as disconcerting.
"Hany takes everyday objects directly around him and assembles them into a sophisticated, perverse personal index.
"His work ranges from the whimsical to the grotesque."
Cottier, a former editor of Interior Design magazine, left Yuill/Crowley Gallery last month.
The Sarah Cottier Gallery, as it will be known, will be based in the former smallgoods factory now used as a photographic studio by Cottier's business partner and husband, Ashley Barber.
"We see setting up in Newtown as taking the art to where the artists are,"Barber said.
"The art community is moving away from the city core," Cottier said. "When the Paddington galleries were setting up, there was a community there which supported them. But they've exited now."
With the Sydney art world undergoing a turbulent period of readjustment in the wake of the recession, rumours have been rife about who Cottier will be representing.
"The full picture will be clearer when I've massed a stable," she said. "But it will be small and focused - probably about eight to 10 artists."
Apart from Armanious, Barber confirmed that former Roslyn Oxley stal wart John Nixon had also made the move - a coup for the new gallery.
"We have five or six artists we're sure about, but John and Hany are the only two we can discuss at the moment," Barber said. "We don't want to be ruffling feathers at this point.
"Because of all the movement going on, it's not politically expedient to discuss it.
"However we're not offering artists huge financial incentives to come across to us. We're attracting people with a new context and focus, a new identity."
Caption: Illus: Sarah Cottier ... "The art community is moving away from the city."Picture by PETER RAE
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Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 20-5-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 2
Section: News and Features
Length: 565
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First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

19 May 1993

New dimension for Tokyo filmmaker

INSIDE SYDNEY: The visiting Japanese filmmaker Keita Kurosaka has made a whirlwind visit to Sydney where he was special guest at Matinaze, a survey of independent films screening this month at the Art Gallery of NSW.
Kurosaka - a leading figure in Japanese independent film and a lecturer at Musashino University near Tokyo - said his first visit to Sydney had added a new dimension to his work.
The visiting Japanese filmmaker Keita Kurosaka has made a whirlwind visit to Sydney where he was special guest at Matinaze, a survey of independent films screening this month at the Art Gallery of NSW.
Kurosaka - a leading figure in Japanese independent film and a lecturer at Musashino University near Tokyo - said his first visit to Sydney had added a new dimension to his work.
"I am encouraged by Australians," he explained. "I have new confidence that my films can communicate with overseas people, rather than just for the Japanese.
"Back home people take my films very seriously and are too self-conscious to laugh.
"But here they laughed spontaneously - and the difference was very stimulating. It was a cheerful, open and lighthearted response."
However, the harbour city left Kurosaka with some curious impressions. "I am particularly surprised that the public toilets are so clean | In fact, your city is very clean and well-organised. But where are all the people? There are hardly any people |"
He explained his dazzling animations: "I want to give new possibilities to the things we take for granted. I want new angles on daily life."
While he acknowledged a debt to traditional Japanese ways, Kurosaka said"the past is not so important - we use what is good and ignore the rest. More and more in Japan, it is not past versus present but commercial versus non-commercial. TV has all the power in Japan."
Considering its population, Kurosaka said Japanese citizens give much less public support to independent cinema than Australians - and it showed in the confidence of our films and filmmakers.
"Your young filmmakers, their themes and styles are not rigid but more relaxed and smooth," he summed up.
The Matinaze screenings continue on Saturday with a program of Japanese films including Kurosaka's latest work The Age of Box.
Caption: Port: Keita Kurosaka explained that his Sydney visit would add a new dimension to his work. Picture by PAUL JONES
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Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 18-5-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 2
Section: News and Features
Length: 465
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First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

13 May 1993

Art heavies rage over Sulman

INSIDE SYDNEY: This year's Archibald, Wynne and Sulman exhibitions at the Art Gallery of NSW may have closed on Sunday, but the debate rages on.
Surprisingly, the controversy has not sprung from the Archibald, but from the Sulman prize for subject, genre and mural painting.
Under the bequest from Sir John Sulman, the gallery's trustees choose an artist to select the works and judge the winner of the $5,000 prize. This year, the painter Imants Tillers had the task of sifting through more than 600 works in just one day.
But while Tillers emerged in the 1980s to join the leading rank of Australian contemporary artists, his Sulman selection has triggered a major debate.
Many Sydney art world heavyweights took the show as a slap in the face.
"It is an outrage," said the Woollahra dealer Rex Irwin. "They were the worst possible pictures, most with little or no merit.
"It was an intellectual wank at the expense of those selected - and an insult to those who weren't."
Speaking from his Surry Hills gallery, Ray Hughes declared: "I don't know what Tillers is up to, but the Sulman's just becoming a haven for undergraduate art - for people more concerned with stacking their CVs."
Irwin added: "Perhaps Tillers used the opportunity to make a political statement. But that's not what a prize is all about.
"All it did was make a fool out of the art gallery."
But the director of the Art Gallery of NSW, Edmund Capon, said the criticism of Tiller's judging was "extraordinarily pretentious".
"One expects to see the signature of the curator to come through, and good on him too. I don't have a problem if we ruffle a few feathers," Capon retorted.
He noted that Tillers represented a radical choice on the part of the Gallery's trustees, but a necessary one.
"Imants represents a different breed, a younger generation who are very active, very established," Capon said.
"They have a voice, and a right to be heard alongside the views of those more mature members of the art world.
"Personally, I didn't much like the end product either. It was rather like a fascinating chamber of horrors, with some truly fairground pictures."
However, Annandale Galleries director Bill Gregory said he "found it quite a lot of fun because it was very subversive".
"I thought it was a send-up at first. But I realised he was trying to explode the whole concept of selecting, of being a judge."
Tillers, who is mounting a show in Latvia, could not be contacted by Inside Sydney for comment.
Sue-Anne Wallace, senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art at Circular Quay, believes this year's Sulman was "awkward", but that Tillers has, at least, shaken things up a bit.
"The Sulman is crucial to our artistic heritage," she said, "and one thing Tillers has done is make people think about the Sulman, about where it is going."
Caption: Port: Imants Tillers ... debate continues over the Sulman.
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Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 12-5-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 2
Section: News and Features
Length: 604
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First published in The Sydney Morning Herald