The exhibition of some of Australia’s finest abstract artists at the Benalla Art Gallery has led to booked-out public workshops, hundreds of students engaging with the work, and even the conversion of some sceptics of the genre.
The exhibition Abstract, curated by the Gallery’s Public Program Officer Shanley Cleeland, features the work of six important contemporary Australian artists - Sydney Ball, Dale Frank, Marc Freeman, Camille Hannah, Kirra Jamison and Noël Skrzypczak, each bringing their own distinctive and energetic style.
The works are on loan from private collections and galleries in Melbourne and Sydney.
Ms Cleeland said that the exhibition had brought a lot of first-time gallery visitors, and people had been challenged by their previous feelings about abstract art.
She was gratified by her experience with a group from the U3A, most of whom were initially fairly cynical about the value of abstract art.
“I gave them an hour-long talk about the work, and one of them later pulled me aside and said she had a newfound appreciation for abstract art. She could see so much more in it, and was prepared to give it much more time,” Ms Cleeland said.
Children have responded particularly well to the bursts of psychedelic colour, eclectic shapes and fluid forms in the exhibition. Nearly 700 children will have engaged with the exhibition by the time it closes on 26 October, through multiple workshops with local schools, a home school group, and the extremely popular school holiday workshops.
“This exhibition is a lot of fun,” Ms Cleeland said. “I talk to the children about the exhibition and what they see in the works. Then I get them to draw a realistic object onto a piece of paper, cut it out and reassemble it in an abstract work.”
The children are encouraged to express themselves in the drawing and the construction of the work, and to talk about the emotions that come out of the colours they are using.
For older gallery visitors, the exhibition presents an awareness of colour patterns and structures, light, texture, movement, an interplay of shapes and animate space.
“Literal readings of these works are near impossible and a direct and sensuous lateral view and approach is essential,” Ms Cleeland said.
Abstract closes on 26 October 2014.
For further information phone the Benalla Art Gallery on 5760 2619 or visit www.benallaartgallery.com