‘Building a Collection’ @ NGV

27 08 2009

The full title of this exhibition is ‘Building a Collection: Recent acquisition of prints and drawings‘, and it at the NGV International.

I visited this exhibition on a day when I actually went to the NGV with the sole intent of seeing if the jewellery collection had changed over yet. The last time the display changed was some time between the 3rd and 26th of April – I’ve been going back once or twice a month to see the next change-over, but have been disappointed to date. Perhaps I should have believed the information-desk person when they told me the display changes every three or four months, instead of wishing it to be more regular! It’s been four months now – so I’m holding my breath and am ready to see new objects.

Anyway, on my way out I remembered the new print exhibition. The gallery is on the ground floor and is decorated in the style of the late 1960s in a homage to the original St Kilda road gallery spaces. The walls are a pale peach-pink, which was apparently meant to be warm and welcoming; but a background colour isn’t my favourite thing as I think it literally colours how I perceive the art. On one wall of this exhibition though it actually seems a suitable colour – the below lithographs are by Maurice Denis, 1897-98.

photograph taken with persmission, without flash

photograph taken with permission, without flash

The prints and drawings in this exhibition span dates from the earliest print now in the collection, c1465 ‘Master of the E Series Tarocchi’ (image on NGV site), up to contemporary work. Consistent with the title, all shown were purchased since 2002. I found it interesting that some were from funds donated by ‘an anonymous donor’ – I like the idea of donating funds to the NGV (when I become fantastically wealthy!), but I do believe I am vain enough to ask for my name to be written under the art bought with my help.

The highlight for me was a large-scale etching by Grayson Perry, ‘Map of an Englishman’, 2004 [further images here and here, the second allowing close-ups of each panel and is definitely worth checking out]. I think I’ve written before about my love for maps, so it is no surprise I love this.

photograph taken with permission, without flash

photograph taken with permission, without flash

There is so much to see here. The features I love the most, aside from some insightful and hilarious ‘place-names’ (including ‘Smacked-arse-in-the-moonlight’ and ‘Pretentious-moi’) is that the ‘Dreams’ region is an island not connect to the mainland, and that the two main landmasses are connected by a bridge between the major cities of ‘Love’ and ‘Sex’.

photograph taken with permission, without flash

photograph taken with permission, without flash

The complexity of the village and town buildings tell a story – it is interesting that ‘Sex’ is a vast fortified place, the walls of ‘Love’ aren’t so high, and ‘G-spot’ (in the ‘Cliche’ region) is quite a lovely round walled township not too far away from ‘Yes-yes-yes’ and ‘Up-a-bit’. Spending time looking at this work of art was an utter delight!

Building a Collection: Recent acquisitions of prints and drawings‘  is at the NGV until 31st January 2010.


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