Monday, October 28, 2013


We stumbled across this exhibition while walking today and couldn't resist going in.
It was a distinct change of pace from the Renaissance art that has filled the last two days and it was well-curated. The highlights, I thought, would be the Kandinsky's, (and Composition No: 217, Grey Oval, in particular was a standout). But there were some terrific surprises in this exhibition which illustrates how the Russian avant-garde sought inspiration beyond the expected centres of art in Europe.

For example, I had never heard of the Kamennaia baba, the stone guardians of the Steppes, an image that Natalia Goncherova picks up and uses in one of her striking paintings, also exhibited here. The stone guardians - monolithic figures with stylised faces, are only some of the artifacts on exhibition. A shaman drum, reindeer antlers used in ritual and carved wooden figures are also displayed - along with other influences on the painters exhibited, including some dramatic Japanese and Chinese prints.

'Spring' by Mikhail Larionov

Although I had obviously seen the advertisement for the exhibition, I wouldn't have seen the exhibition itself had we not decided to go wandering. I'm delighted we did see it, because it made me think harder about questions I've been asking myself about art and its place in the world and, in particular, poetry and where I want to take my own poetry.

Where do I want to take my poetry? I'd like to push a little away from the narrative - but it feels quite hard for me to do that. It's difficult doing anything on the road as we are - hard to find the correct headspace and also difficult to process everything we're seeing, so I'm not going to stress about it at the moment. But it is something I want to keep pushing when I return to Australia.

The Universe is a kind of temporary laboratory for research
into the laws of the human spirit.    Wassily Kandinsky.
Composition No: 217, Grey Oval, Wassily Kandinsky.

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