This review written by Sasha Grishan published in the Canberra Times March 30, 2003 in response to the National Sculpture Exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra where my solo Boatman was included.

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political edges


A diverse sculpture exhibition reflects the global horror of our times writes Sasha Grishin

It is a truism that art prizes make for lousy exhibitions and this one is no exception to the general rule. From a crowded field of more than a thousand entries by some 520 artists, 20 sculptures by 21 artists were selected as finalists for the $50,000 National Sculpture prize. When one considers this, it is quite remarkable that the display has some semblance of coherence. This in no small measure is an achievement by the curator, Elena Tay­lor, and her team. It is a very diverse exhibition, thematically and stylisticalBooklet Arthur Wicks Worksly, as one would expect of any prize ex­hibition.
The outcome of an art prize depends on the judges on the day and it is no surprise that when most of us are living with the horror of the new global order that politically motivated work has come to prominence.
The winning entry, Lisa Roet's Political Ape, consists of seven bronze busts of chimpanzees in various stages of delivering a political address with an accompanying sound recording. Although cultural references may be to 18th and early 19th century phrenolog­ical manuals and physiognomical stud­ies, as well as the artist's own extensive study into primate behaviour, what no-one is prepared to say is that some of the apes bear a striking resemblance to our prime minister. This adds wit and topicality to what is a very clever piece of sculpture.
Jan Golembiewski's Liberty, carved out of dry ice and disintegrating before your eyes is an effective comment on the ephemerality of life and of monu­mental structures following the catas­trophe of the New York bombings on September 11.
Terry Summers' Waiting room, an installation of cardboard figures with covered eyes crowded behind barbed wire and a chain wire fence, is a time­ly comment concerning Australia's treatment of refuges.

If one can divorce oneself from the horror of contemporary political events, there are a number of very fine sculptures which adopt a broader per­spective on the human condition. One of these is an absolutely brilliant installation piece by Arthur Wicks, the Boatman's unscheduled crossing, where Samuel Beckett existentialist drama is played out in its full tragic absurdity.
Wicks writes "I have an image of the Boatman high above my head, rowing out from one point to another across a vast void. I strain my eyes to see where he is  heading, but the destination is not clear. I wonder who his passengers are and whether he has been paid in advance."

David Jensz, who is really one of the most remarkable sculptors of the younger generation working in this country, in his Slinky, creates a wonderfully ambiguous piece where rubber tubing, lace and steel combine into a seductive new ­reality. To succeed in such an ambi­tious project on a onsiderable scale with all of the contrasting sensibilities is indeed a major achievement.
Geoffrey Bartlett and Peter Cole, two of the most respected Australian sculptors, have both entered major pieces, to suggest how seriously they take the Canberra prize. There is also a rather strong Canberra contingent amongst the finalists, including Anna Eggert, Matthew Harding and Tim Wetherell.
The prize for the wackiest work must go to Alwin Reamillo and his as­sistant Roselin Eaton from Fitzroy Crossing for their Jandamarra Cross­ing Project. Jandamarra was a Bunuba guerrilla fighter who led his people in the struggle against the pastoralists.


Sasha Grishan
Canberra Sunday Times Relax March 30 2003


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