Reflections

Alcazar Seville-Watermark

A reflection is never substantially there, but an image created on the surface of a material unwilling to give up the secret of its depth. It invites … reflection – a re-bending of thought … about the impossibility of an undisturbed external world that lies outside its border, and the possibility of what lies invisibly beneath it. It lets us see from the other side of the mirror.

Water reflections are the most urgent, fragile and melancholy of all. Easily disturbed by the wind, frozen white by the winter, or evaporated by the sun, they give us only a moment to see and look and watch and think before they, like us, disappear. Continue reading

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Australia and West New Guinea, 1957-1959

When the Menzies Cabinet decided in January 1959 to give greater weight to maintaining good neighbour relations with Jakarta over denying Indonesia control of West New Guniea (WNG), it was with the firm understanding that Australia’s regional policy was dependent on the military backing of its major allies, the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK).

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The end of the Cuban idyll

Sunset over Havana

The BBC is running a story today that the Cuban government has removed the need for its citizens to have an exit permit to travel abroad. There are many beginnings, even to ends, but this is another because ends the Cuban idyll for all which Castro established when he won power in 1959 and restricted foreign travel.

The restriction’s lifting reminds me of Milan Kundera’s Book of Laughter and Forgetting, a stinging critique of Communist government in Czechoslovakia, first published in Czech in 1978 and in English translation in 1980. In the first section of his novel “Lost Letters”, he writes of the idyll for all:

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Jeffrey Smart and the Perspective of Time V

The Tarrawarra Museum of Art’s retrospective of Jeffrey Smart’s work from 1940-2011 shows Smart as an interpreter of solitude and the relationship between people and their built environment, and as an artist who successfully synthesised traditional perspective with the flat and abstract planes of early 20th century modernist painting that eventually destroyed it.

In almost seamlessly bringing these two bookends of western art history together, Smart subtly marries a range of contradictions or dualities on his canvasses: urban landscape and minuscule portraiture in the Portrait of Clive James, the silence of modern communications and invisible movement in the Control Tower and The Listeners, and crossed relations between the direction of perspective and light in Morning Practice, Baia and The Vacant Allotment.

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Jeffrey Smart and the Perspective of Time IV

One of the key themes in Jeffrey Smart’s work that the Tarrawarra Museum of Art’s retrospective shows is his interpretation of people’s relationship with their built environment, and within this theme are those of solitude and communication, painted on sharp and saturated canvasses of rural landscapes, overbuilt cities, and motifs of modern communications technology and large scale construction.

Smart paints inverse relationships between people and their environment to emphasise togetherness in remote areas, or solitude and isolation in the city. The small congregation outside an unassuming hall in remote Paringa in 1951 is greater than one would expect of a one-store town on a dirt junction. In contrast, the watcher from a balcony in Holiday (1971), is the only human figure in a deserted complex of large apartment buildings, emphasising solitude in high density living.

Smart-Paringa and Holiday

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