Bold individualism is the focal point of this year’s Redlands Konica Minolta Art prize at Sydney’s National Art School, providing every reason to visit before the 12th of May to check out the incredible art that speaks to exhibition curator Nike Savvas’ Extreme Prejudice title. The exhibition display includes the work of the winner of the Established Artist category, Gail Hastings, as well as winner of the Emerging Artist category, Adrian McDonald – and what’s more, it is entirely free.
Savvas said that the selection of artists demonstrate “discriminating, uncompromising and highly individualist approaches to art making”. She views this hyper-subjectivity as a vital cure to “a cultural climate beset by hype, hits, corporatisation and swinging social agency”.
Gail Hastings’ winning piece of the Established Artist category, Colour circle: four colour scheme for a room, truly invokes the “single-minded approaches to art practice” valued by exhibition curator Nike Savvas. Hastings’ “sculptural situations”, as she refers to them, provoke a deep exploration of space, through an aesthetic demonstration of the artist’s colour wheel. Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize Judge and Redlands school Visual Coordinator, Mark Harpley, saw the value of Hasting’s work in its powerful reference to the colour wheel, which invites artists’ personal investigations into the concept of space. Hastings perceives her “sculptural situations” as transits of thought in space. Hastings said, “I begin, in other words, at a loss inside the space I am making, where, by making it, I find my way outside”. Praising Hasting’s “assiduous engagement and comprehensive investigations with art practice”, Harpley points to a broader artist autonomy in the exhibition. The exhibition model enables artists to select other artists for inclusion in the exhibition, and thereby “reclaims art for the practitioner”, according to curator Nike Savvas.
Winner of the Emerging Artist Category, Adrian McDonald’s Approximating a Circle, similarly delves into the philosophy of artist practice. McDonald sees his painting as “… an ongoing engagement with the complex relationships that exist between notions of beauty, truth and freedom as they relate to the historical origins of both abstract and concrete art”. A series of lines appearing as dashes on a raw linen surface enable McDonald to explore unseen spaces and the silences of harmony, through the gaps created by the lines. It is through his juxtaposition of the numbers of pi and the canvas limitations, that McDonald expressed he has “abstracted the essential linear structure of a circle in order that, for the purposes of the painting, it may become a square”. It is this “post-objective image making”, as Art Prize Judge and Redlands School Visual Arts Teacher, Fabian Byrne, refers to it, that makes McDonald’s work a stand-out in an exhibition premised on critical thought and questioning.
However, the judges expressed their difficulty in selecting overall winners amongst an array of “ambitious and thought-provoking installations”. This is hardly surprising upon immersing oneself in the National Art School gallery. With a vast variety of mediums and innovations employed across the included artworks, this year’s exhibition transcends all hopes for the future of art. Pop on in to the National Art School before the exhibition ends on the 12th of May, to enjoy for yourself the inspiring potential for art’s reflection in an all too often frivolous world.