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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Monday, 4 January 2010
Post impressions of a 12 hour drive to and from Canberra’s National Gallery
Mood:  happy
Topic: local news


It was always a big ask. Hawkesbury into Bondi Beach, then back out to Canberra’s National Gallery 4 hours away for their show of Post Impressionists. All in one day.

The trip was partly self interest after walking for hours through European galleries mesmerised back in 2002. The Prado in Madrid and the Louvre in Paris.

But it was also a reward for Carol after a 2 year journey navigating the Guardianship Tribunal and NSW Supreme Court for 4 days mid December 2009. Carol has special needs ably supported by her CBD lawyer Pam Suttor, and barrister Chris Simpson (SC). There is nothing Carol likes better than a gallery of paintings and social day out. She can ride in a car trip watching the world forever. 12 hours with a few breaks – no sweat. It’s the driver who is under the hammer, with or without free coffee from the SES bloke at Lake George.

A quick drive by and a short break at Subway for lunch at Manuka shops, while getting vaguely lost then back for the main event.

So how was the show? Well we read the art critic in the SMH just now and the 2 page feature in the Review in The Australian. This is what we thought for better or worse: Yes, the carpark is a dogs breakfast of construction but we got a place close by immediately and the underground parking was open – we never found out if it was free.

A half hour wait in the ticket queue, yet it was under cover, in a cool place inside, surrounded by other art works, with cheerful well to do casual dressed Australians in summer shorts and shirts nearby. There’s a lot worse places to be on a hot Saturday. The concession entry at $16 was reasonable.

The first of 6 rooms of affluent portraits was not worth much of our time, merely to set the scene for what followed. The next room of pointilists while bright and gracious and mildly interesting seemed a somewhat perverse sidetrack from the main course in room 3.

There we saw Van Gogh and his contempories. I got to thinking he drank with these peers nearby, aspiring to a deep authenticity that Vincent achieved most of all? Somehow VV’s flowers, self portrait, starry night over the Rhone turned other respectable works back towards the cartoon end of the spectrum. We felt an involuntary smile.  So deep and textured outrageous and endearing. I wanted more.

Only Gauguin had his orange variants. And Bonnard and Vouillard their striking vibrancy. I got the feeling however that the exhibition was a bit skinny. There was only one Rousseau as dramatic as it was. The overhead lights on the panel sized decorations by Bonnard in room 6 glared - did they have overhead lights in 1890?

The glass protecting the works was virtually invisible, cleaner than any window I’ve seen. The crowd was full of beautiful people, presumably art students. The audio commentary seemed a bit of a gouge so we skipped it, perhaps unwisely having travelled so far. The merchandise shop was busy like the obstacle course it was meant to be.

The images are very vibrant again in the press reviews back in Sydney. They contrast with black and white newsprint. One realises most of the works could sit on your wall and keep on giving for many a long year. Carol had a great time too.

As we got back to Sydney the southerly storm burst. We took the cheapskate Cowpasture Rd alternative to the M7 in a surreal combo of sunglasses and windscreen wipers at full bore. Carol then took the ride back on the rail to finish a satisfying gallery adventure.

Posted by editor at 1:14 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 5 January 2010 8:16 AM EADT

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