Mona .. On the Origin Of Art

Mona’s own page for its exhibition On The Origin Of Art is extensive and I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel more like how we explore what art is in ourselves.

The opening page of Mona’s dedicated info about it explains it’s ‘one man’s attempt to piss off art academics’ ..  i guess that means their four guest curators – Steven Pinker, Geoffrey Miller, Brian Boyd, and Mark Changizi – care more for the planet than art theory .. and that the one man is David Walsh.

Once you are down in the bowels of the earth ( well not quite ) the staff show you four doors which are separate exhibitions of each of the guest curators.

My own art academic experience is vague.  I dropped out of uni in the early 70s heavilly influenced by Timothy Leary, and believed there was an ‘intergalactic university’ that was training me .. in many ways it is a miracle i survived.  I was always falling through the cracks; the square plug in a round hole; ‘crazy’.  Later on in life, after our mother died and i wanted to make sure Dad was happy, I enrolled in the early days of Open Learning Australia, and gained an art theory major through Charles Sturt University.  However I wanted to experience uni life, and explore academic writing more ( i had been heavilly criticised for it during the OLA degree ) so with my redundancy from the ABC I enrolled in a Master of Arts Coursework University of Sydney.  When i rang up to enquire about it the course-coordinator said something like ‘no you do not want to do this degree’.  Well I did but that is a story in itself.  The cost for such degrees was going to skyrocket the next year so i crammed it all into the one year.  One of the things it taught me was that art theory as taught at that University was remarkably more detailed than what I had studied.

After that I fell into a crowd that didnt like my ‘arty-farty’ side and for many years on a Sunday afternoon merging into late night ridiculed my politics too .. so much so that i was the first to volunteer to go down the pub to get new art supplies.  I did find artistic friends though – including Marie who gave me glowing accounts of MONA.

Of course while they are trying to piss of art academics if they can be taken for their world, they also create a type of mumbo-jumbo that can hurt brains not used to it.  The question of what is at the heart of art, why it is an urge and a pleasure, is given free play to these four highly talented and motivated men to choose what they deem as important art.

Meeting a friend at the coffee shop in the Royal Society of Art in London, a young man with a ring in his nose plonked himself down at the table next to us and started clicking his youth membership card on the table which started off a conversation with him and my Londoner friend who had a different membership card.  I mentioned how Instagram shows that art can be shared for free, that everyone is an artist.  They both disagreed with that speculation, in that art must be kept valuable.  From that conversation I was able to find this guy’s art exhibition where he was selling art.   I’d love to sell art !  My own way of dealing with the value of expression is to keep all my internet activities separate from each other so that most people have no idea of other pages that i have.  I do this to avoid old friends thinking I’m up myself, mostly; or embarassing friends I’ve known for a shorter time.

Also in this day and age we are allowed to take photographs of artworks; just cant flash at them.  I’ve made slides of the ones that i also took the details of; one of the underlying reason for me making this is to learn how to do blogs, use creative cloud tools properly (a large and endearing project), and generally get back into the workforce.

By the way studying Art History gave me the shivers as I found it totally elitist and was horrified that i was expected to understand french extentialism as it was apparently at the heart of modern art.

I add my little personal nuances to the pieces.  For professional views of this exhibition there is a fabulous (and expensive) MONA catalogue.

Edward Collier is one of the ways this artist’s name is spelt.  The Letter Rack is one of several of such paintings; so much so that Dror Wahrman has written a book about them ( Mr. Collier’s Letter Racks: A Tale Of Art and Illusion at the Threshold of The Modern Information Age, Oxford University Press, 2012 ).  A google search brings up many if you are so inclined, as do sites such as Pubhist.  This particular Letter Rack is on loan from the Art Gallery of South Australia … another reminder of my masters by coursework as curatorship was the only real career-orientated subject offered … which i didnt do.

I love this probably because of the music, the chiaroscuro, the daily mess of homes and activity and finding things … as i typed that a bird arrived on the balcony edge rather noisilly announcing himself; then flew off.


Suransundaris .. such statues always remind me of old friend Fifi LAmour telling me about when she accompanied her documentary-making father to India for a year after finishing school.  They were outside a temple and a man came rushing up to her; ‘We’ve been waiting for you to return’ he exclaimed, probably profusely bowing down; ‘You’re the reincarnation of our goddess’.  She was given a full tour of a complete tantric temple; and I always remember this story when i see any ancient Indian Statues.  BlessU Feef x.

Searching on these brings up many pinterest posts.  The National Museum of India provides a powerpoint Glimpses of Indian Sculpture through the Ages.surasundaris

Raoul François Larche : I cant read where this is borrowed from; there is one in MOMA’s collection and in the NGA’s where it is designated as a lampshade base in gilded bronze.  The freedom of such dancing is catchy; it was with somewhat amusement that I realised recently that although I feel dancing is part of me, I wasnt a dancer as such although I felt i was in my bones. Art Nouveau still strikes a chord in many people. Larche apparently also made statues of religious figures as well as partially draped and nude women.  The combination of the impression of gold and freedom of expression is paramount as well as its beauty. There is film available of Loie Fuller dancing on youtube.monaEXB01larche

Kantharos .. my photos belie the importance and beauty of these objects, but as i was travelling and couldnt afford more weight to lug around despite anything else, i took some pictures … also to amuse and remind myself as i was alone.   This particular old object reminded me straight away of a friend I’d only recently made back contact with since we had worked together in the 1980s; Helen, who comes from Greece originally, and has happiness in her soul despite everything.  I couldnt get over seeing something like this up close… it’s beautiful.   Many examples from this period have apparently been reworked.monaEXB01kantharos

Yanagawa Shigenobu .. Japanese Art was one of my subjects in my MA although I barely touched the surface.  This is hopefully a pretty obscure photo.  Our lecturer took great delight in the tutorial about this element of Japanese woodblock print.  A delight of this little project is finding out just how much of art collections are online, and just how much Japanese Art is included in the collection of The Art Gallery of South Australia.


Takashi Murakami is obviously a lot of fun and very relevant.   This artwork is purposely only shown part of here.   There are lots of videos available; this one where he explains Otaku; and how with this particular artwork that has no specific meaning, relating to Warhol’s Lonesome Cowboy, he wished to combine the influences of Japanese PostWar Art with Otaku.  In our society it’s a bit like ‘how is he allowed to do that’ but he did and has and it’s lol exceptional. Apparently he originally trained in Nihonga. Definitely an artist to learn more about !


Yayoi Kusama – must say i didnt understand this but noticed that it was generating a lot of interest and enthusiasm; people were captivated by it.  It reminded me of Infinity at the Gold Coast which is probably a derivative of it.  I was reminded of it when some facebook friends were discussing an exhibition of her work at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC which is so popular one is only allowed a few seconds in each exhibit; and I remembered this immediately.


Sopolemalama Filipe Tohi  .. I loved this … based on weaving of coconut fibres.  It reminded me of the Aboriginal Memorial at NGA and of recently art gallery visits where famous priceless artworks were painted on boards nailed together.monaEXB01sopolemalama

Faig Ahmed has his own page where is work is described in his biography. I found it pretty confronting in a good way in that ‘what a waste of a carpet’ interweaved with ‘gosh in this day and age cultures are getting lost’ sort of feeling.  The Jameel Arts Centre will open in 2018 in Dubai.


Fertility Figure .. what seems to be lapels of a coat could actually be stick arms across the body with only nipples evident.   Havent been able to find any more about this little figure ( until i find the catalogue in a library ) which seems to have been on loan to or from the Ian Potter Museum of Art University of Melbourne.


Head of Oba King Brian Boyd uses this in his opening remarks and it is a much better image.   Roger Fyfe and Sarah Murray write about the Benin Collection in a Records of the Canterbury Museum from 2014


Marian Ellis Rowan rang a bell inside my memory about some of her work at Kew Gardens and while i may be mixing her up with someone else, her paintings of New Guinea plants are treasured by them.  It is named after Princes Stephanie of Belgium after being discovered by Carl Hunstein in 1884.


Mask of Xipe Totec is from the British Museum and is carved on the other side creating criticism of authenticity amongst some scholars putting it and another mask of Xipe Totec in lava under scrutiny


Dr Seuss has his own webpage, facebook page and art gallery in Chicago.  Seuss worked with Judge magazine from 1927, creating covers, before his children’s book characters.  Judge was one of the magazines he worked on.


 There are many images of this exhibition available and there are still two days left of it (ends Easter Monday 2017).


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