CONTEMPORARY AUSTRALIAN PRINTS
from the Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection
3 April to 6 June 2004
This exhibition presents a selection of contemporary Australian prints acquired through purchase and generous benefaction over the last fifteen years for the Collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
In recent years Australian artists have increasingly turned to prints as an important aspect of their practice. Indeed, some artists only make prints and favour them above all other mediums as the most effective and expressive vehicle for their ideas.
The selection of over sixty Australian prints showcases the diversity of printmaking activity in Australia since 1988 and highlights particular strengths of the Gallery's Collection.
Major multi-sheet works, intimate wood engravings and etchings, prints by Aboriginal artists, artists' books and works from portfolios are included. Traditional printmaking mediums such as etching, engraving, screenprint, lithography and woodcut are refined and re-cast in new ways to embrace contemporary preoccupations and concerns.
The past decade in particular has seen a remarkable growth in the number of Aboriginal artists making prints. The Gallery's Collection reflects this activity with the work of artists from urban and regional areas; artists from remote communities such as Rover Thomas, Queenie McKenzie, Kutuwulumi Purawarrumpatu (Kitty Kantilla) and Nora Wompi Nungarrayi are exhibited. Also included is an evocative etching by Sydney-based artist Roy Kennedy, recalling the memories of his childhood days in the Police Paddock Mission at Darlington Point, Murrumbidgee River.
A number of themes are visited by artists using a wide range of approaches. Several artists engage with depictions of urban life, including Elizabeth Rooney, Joyce Allen, Ron McBurnie and Dean Bowen, often with a humorous perspective. There are landscapes by Raymond Arnold, Jorg Schmeisser, David Rose, Max Miller, still lifes by John Olsen and Kevin Lincoln and abstracts by Allan Mitelman, Robert Jacks and John Firth-Smith. Portraiture is a subject for a number of artists, including Kevin Lincoln, Pam Hallandal, Nicholas Harding and Mike Parr.
Concepts of scale and multiplicity have also been of interest for a number of artists. For example, Imants Tillers' large multi-sheet work Drift, Mike Parr's monumental series of twelve self-portrait etchings and Alun Leach-Jones' extraordinary 72-colour screenprint City life no 2, 1995 are on display.
Finally, many artists are now producing artists' books, part of an increasing interest in combining image with text, or books with a sustained visual narrative without words. Works by Jen Senbergs, Tate Adams and Idris Murphy are included.