Monday, May 22, 2006

St John vs Tom Hanks

The Da Vinci Code movie is out, and tourists are flocking to Milan to see Da Vinci's The Last Supper. According to one of Dan Brown's puzzles, the face of one of the apostles looks like that of a woman, and people want to see this for themselves so they can go 'ah, it's true, Leonardo must have known something! How tricksy!'. What's particularly stupid about this is that nobody stops to point out that Leonardo loved painting androgynous-looking characters, so the fact that the guy in The Last Supper looks a bit girly is no earth-shattering discovery. To prove my point, have a look at the picture I've attached. It's Leonardo's 'St John The Baptist'. Just looking at John's face, tell me he doesn't look like a total chick!

Monday, May 15, 2006


There's a column by Paul Sheehan in today's Sydney Morning Herald about the recent fuss over the two Tasmanian miners recently freed from their underground cage.
He wonders at the way the media has labelled them heroes, when they have their lives due to the good work of their rescuers. And that it's strange for the whole thing to be treated as a feel-good story when one guy was killed (though he's mostly forgotten in the news stories). It'd be nice to think some of the media $$$ might go to that miner's family.
The writer pointed out something else annoying - recently three guys were lost out in the seas of the Torres Strait for 22 days. They were out there so long in their 5-metre boat that the search party was called off. They were there for quite a few more days than those two guys were trapped in the mine, but they managed to survive, making use of seawater, raw squid and shellfish (and they did it on their own, unlike the miners). But their story hasn't gotten onto the Footy Show or anywhere else - they were three outback Aborigines.
I've been trying to think that it's nice to see Australians caring about a story like this, since it's about two people being rescued rather than the usual gloom and doom new stories. And we probably shouldn't be too hard on the media, as they could hardly be expected to leave the story alone - 'boy trapped in well' stories are like 'attractive young woman on trial for taking drugs into Thailand' stories - short term events full of human drama that can be dragged out over a number of weeks, with a guaranteed exciting ending (both death and salvation sell papers).
But I don't like how obvious the media and politicians have been in picking and choosing who they're going to promote to us as being 'heroes', great 'Australians' (as if two Chinese miners would have eaten each other in the same situation), and great examples of 'mateship' (that term starts to sound more fascist and racist every time I hear Johnny H use it).

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Art - 2006 Archibald Prize

Found a number of pictures to enjoy at the Archibald Prize exhibition at the NSW Art Gallery today.
* Loved the winner - The Paul Juraszek monolith by Marcus Wills. Dozens of Paul Juraszeks climbing about the stone face, with some of his sculptures dotted here and there. Unlike most modern portraits, I can imagine it still being interesting to look at in 20 or more years' time.
As usual I didn't think much of the messy pictures which lacked any kind of craftmanship. For $25,000 (the Archibald prize booty), I think a bit of effort should be required.
* Michael Zavros painted himself presumably at a time of artistic frustration - Michael lays down to listen to the latest Kate Bush on his iPod. Good picture, and good title 'Michael Zavros can't paint'.
* Great-looking dogs in Peter Smeeth's Clover Moore picture. Catherine Abel's 'Portrait of Julia Leigh' had a nifty retro sheen. And Peter Churcher managed something unsettling in 'Bruce, Linde and me on the road to Guadelupe', featuring a party of modern young Spaniards butchering stags and boars at a hunting party. The people looked a little like they'd come out of an illustrated children's book. I'm not sure if this was intentional, or if it's the artist's usual style. The style was a bit mild and shabby and didn't seem to suit the scene of bloodshed very well, but in a way it helped add to the overall oddness.
* As usual there were three other competitive exhibitions on show. A lovely photo-real cow portrait (and there's never enough of them!) by Peter Hickey (but with a bad bad title - 'Who me?'); nice pair of shops by William Breen 'Alphabet City'; and a lovely Vermeer-inspired photo of Lisa Tomasetti's daughter 'Vanilla and Misfortune'.
* I've attached 3 pictures to this story. The winning Marcus Wills picture; Michael Zavros' self-portrait (with iPod), and Vanila Netto's very swish prize-winning photographic portrait.
* After leaving, I sms'd a friend who knows Michael Zavros, mentioning that I liked his picture. I got a text back saying that he was in town and was going to the exhibition in the afternoon. I wish I had've been there at the same time he was - would have been interesting to see a painter checking out his own self-portrait.
*** Oh, one last thing. The gallery has finally removed the large piece of modern 'art' that used to resemble huge gobs of phlegm suspended from the ceiling in a collection of old stockings. It was remarkably awful and pointless, and I used to love having a chuckle over it. Now it's gone. I thought I'd be happy about it - but I kind of missed it.