Monday, August 13, 2007

Sydney art - end of the angry young men

Photo: Painting by Adam Cullen.

Interesting story in the Sydney Morning Herald (8 August 2007) by Erik Jensen suggesting that the Sydney gallery scene's love affair with testostrone fuelled art appears to be waning.

According to Jensen, angry young men have dominated the Sydney gallery scene for more than a decade, snapped up by collectors reconnecting with lost youth.

The painter Adam Cullen formed the face of this movement, and his pictures, made from squalls of genitalia and dismembered bodies, found their way into the living rooms of Elton John and Amanda Vanstone. Later, Ben Quilty's teen frustrations met the canvas in slabs of eloquent violence, pushed and slashed with a palette knife. Apart from his debut, every show sold out.

But now, Jensen suggests, the movement has aged, losing some of its intensity - tastes have changed and the pendulum is swinging towards a wave of young women, angry and otherwise.

The angry young man is dead. In his place: refinement, tradition and women who now account for the majority of enrolments across Australia.

I have been out of touch with the Australian art scene for many years. Somehow I lost interest after I married and especially after we moved to Sydney. There wasn't any time, and much of the art had also ceased to say anything to me.

More recently I have started to become interested again, but through a very narrow prism, the individual work of girls at my daughters' school. This year in particular with Clare doing HSC art I have been in and out of the school's art studio all the time, in so doing watching the girls' work evolve.

Erk Jensen's article struck a chord because it chimed with my own perceptions of the girl's work.

No comments: