The Art of South Australia

Art Gallery of South Australia
For those who are familiar with this blog, you would probably realise that I have (or have developed) and interest in the artistic world. In fact if you are one of my Facebook friends you would probably also realise that once a week I put up a random work of art (with some comment that people seem to occasionally find funny). Anyway, my recent trip to Adelaide would not have been complete without a visit to the Art Gallery of South Australia.
The art gallery is located on what is known as Adelaide’s cultural strip, that is North Terrace, between the Museum and the University of Adelaide (the building which also contains the Classics Museum which, despite having studied Ancient History at that institution, I still haven’t visited). This wasn’t the first time I’ve been here – I’ve been here numerous times, including one lunch break with a friend from work – however this is the first time I’ve been here since the remake.
The Art Gallery is divided into three sections: from the entrance there are two sets of galleries that run parallel to each other, the right galleries contain Australia art, and the left galleries contain international art. At the rear there is a cafe and also an area for exhibitions. That layout hasn’t changed (though there is an area underneath the international galleries which contain cultural art, including Islamic Art, Asian Art, and Victorian art – the historical period, not the Australian state). However, as I’ve mentioned, the gallery has had a makeover since I was last here.
Islamic Art
Some Islamic Art
 A quick browse over the internet has suggested that people like the make-over, but I was a little put off by it, especially in the international galleries. The Australia Galleries were fine as you could follow the development of South Australian artists from the initial founding of the colony to the post-modern art of our times. However the international galleries seemed to have morphed into galleries relating to various different themes, and while I might get used to it, I found the mix of modern and traditional art to be a little off putting. However, I suspect this may have something to do with the evolution of art galleries as we know them, going from the traditional paintings and statues to becoming a work of art in and of themselves.
Death Gallery
The theme of this room is death
However it was still interesting wondering through the South Australian galleries, viewing the works by local artists over the 170 odd years that South Australia has been in existence, and how the art initially had a strong European flavour:
William Bouguereau - virgin and child 1888
We even have our own Madonna & Child
 As the colony began to develop its own identity, so did the art, even though it still retained its distinctive European flavour.
Hugh Ramsey - Four Seasons
Hugh Ramsey – The Four Seasons
The most famous South Australian artist though is Hans Heysen, a German born Australian immigrant who lived and painted in the Adelaide Hills. In fact, there are even paintings by his daughter, Nora Heysen, in the gallery. Most of his paintings were basically trees, but people must have liked his paintings because his paintings appear in a number of Art Galleries around Australia (including the Art Gallery of NSW and Western Australia) and he has had a hiking trail (the Heysen Trail) and a couple of road tunnels (the Heysen Tunnels) named after him. However, since he died in 1968, his work is not yet in the public domain, however you can always type his name into Google Images to get good sample of his work.
What I can’t forget to mention though is true Australian art, and that is the art of the Australian Aboriginals. What is good about the Art Gallery of South Australia is that there is aboriginal art included alongside the European Art. While we Europeans have our own specific style, we cannot forget that the Native Australians were here first, and despite what some have suggested, they were cultured and were able to express their culture in the form of art (as is the case below).
Aboriginal Rock Art
This can be found in Kakadu National Park
Oh, and another thing I found as I was wondering through the gallery was this:
Cupid
Isn’t this supposed to be in Piccadilly Circus?
Still, I quite enjoyed my travels through here, and no doubt will be returning again sometime when I am back in Adelaide, knowing full well that if I want to stare at some European paintings, there is always the National Gallery of Victoria.

Aboriginal Rock Art Source: Thomas Schoch use permitted under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 unported

 

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