As 2013 comes to an end, BLOUIN ARTINFO Australia takes a look back at the year that was and has picked 10 of the most memorable Australian artworks to have emerged during 2013.
In no particular order, the top 10 most memorable Australian artworks of 2013 are:
“Skywhale,” 2013 by Patricia Piccinini
Commissioned to celebrate the 100th birthday of Australia's capital city, Canberra, Patricia Piccinini’s monumental “Skywhale” hot air balloon raised eyebrows around Australia and received mixed reviews. The strange yet beautiful creature raises questions relating to the relationship between people, nature, and technology, and asks viewers contemplate issues relating to genetic engineering and biotechnology.
“Hugo,” 2013 by Del Kathryn Barton
Sydney artist Del Kathryn Barton was awarded the 2013 Archibald Prize for Portraiture for her painting of actor Hugo Weaving – the second time that she has won the prestigious prize. The decision to award Barton a second Archibald prize was controversial, but her painting of Weaving, executed in her signature decorative visual language was a triumph of portraiture. Barton’s painting was not only a wonderful depiction of Weaving’s distinctive physical characteristics, it also captured his history and identity.
“Baino (After Afghanistan),” 2013 by Ben Quilty
In 2011, painter Ben Quilty traveled to Afghanistan as an Official War Artist. Upon his return to Australia he produced a series of poignant and powerful portraits of servicemen and women. Executed in his signature impasto style, “Baino (After Afghanistan),” 2013 is an emotionally charged expression of the duality of the military persona. At once both dignifying and revealing, Quilty’s portrait celebrates the inner strength of our military personnel while at the same time explore their vulnerability.
“The Dinner Party,” 2013 by Richard Bell
Australian Indigenous artist Richard Bell’s powerful and provocative video work “The Dinner Party” (2013) focuses on a group of well-heeled individuals at a dinner party in a luxurious mansion as they discuss their views of the interrelationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in this country. The uncomfortable scenario asks the viewer to contemplate the state of Australia’s racial relations and consider who the people are that have the strongest influence on the situation.
“Uncle Paddy,” 2013 by Nigel Milsom
Sydney artist, Nigel Milsom, who is currently serving a six-year sentence for robbing a 7-Eleven convenience store with an axe in April 2012, was awarded the $150,000 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize in 2013 for his painting “Uncle Paddy.” Milsom’s haunting portrait depicts a friend of his late grandfather who was one of the only non-family members to attend his grandfather’s funeral.
“Blood on the Wattle,” 2013 by Yhonnie Scarce
Woomera-born Australian Indigenous artist, Yhonnie Scarce’s “Blood on the Wattle,” 2013 was exhibited as part of the 55th Venice Biennale satellite exhibition “Personal Structures: Time, Space, Existence.” Consisting of a Perspex coffin encasing 225 glass bush bananas, “Blood on the Wattle” (2013) was presented as one mass grave, each banana commemorating a year of Australia’s colonization and the genocide of Indigenous peoples.
“Summer,” 2012 by Nell
Sydney-based artist Nell had a big year in 2013, winning one of the Australia's most prestigious art prizes, the $50,000 University of Queensland National Artists' Self-Portrait Prize 2013, for her video “Summer” (2012). The intense, yet satisfyingly cathartic video documents the artist destroying one of her previous works, a fly sculpture, with a cricket bat – a symbolic act exploring the fragility of life in which Nell is concurrently living and dying.
“Coexisting,” 2013 by Clark Beaumont
Who could forget collaborative duo Clark Beaumont’s “living sculpture” for the “13 Rooms” exhibition in Sydney. Hand-picked by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Klaus Biesenbach as the 13th “living sculpture,” 21-year-old Sarah Clark and 22-year-old Nicole Beaumont’s intriguing work involved the artists presenting themselves for eight hours a day on a plinth barely big enough for them both to stand on.
“Goldene Bend'er,” 2013 by Mikala Dwyer
Influential installation artist Mikala Dwyer’s 2013 installation “Goldene Bend'er” challenged the boundaries of space and materiality. The centerpiece of the exhibition was a video depicting a challenging performance in which a group of dancers wearing flowing gold costumes and masks moved around a series of transparent seats, and after finding a seat, defecated into it.
“A Device for Viewing the Landscape,” 2013 by Tim Maguire
Situated within the full-height atrium of the spectacular 31-storey Deutsche Bank building in Sydney, the first Lord Norman Foster building in the Southern hemisphere and the location of international law firm Allens Linklaters’ Sydney office, Tim Maguire’s epic installation “A device for viewing the landscape” spans six floors of the building’s glass-walled core. The work consists of 18 back-lit Duratrans panels divided into six triptychs installed vertically over the six floors.