Art has always been controversial by trying to break new grounds to express its purposes. Each new generation of art students and practitioners create their own ways of expressing their visual ideas. It’s important for us, as viewers, to engage with these new visions and give the younger generation of artists space to exhibit and put forward their ideas.
Currently the Benalla Gallery has three excellent exhibitions from Australian master printmakers, all represented in major galleries in Australia and overseas. These exhibitions are a must for everyone interested in contemporary printmaking and for those curious to see what it is like. Rona Green’s cartoon type images of anthropomorphic animals are both amusing and disturbing in the Bennett Gallery. In the Simpson Gallery Jazmina Cininas’ large etchings exploring the history of European werewolves bring to mind Grimm’s Fairy Tales of dark forests and deadly deeds.
Our December lecture by Meredith Paez took us round the large group of paintings and prints entitled “The Botany of Desire”. Here the gallery uses both historical botanical paintings on canvas and china from the Ledger collection and contrasts these with a diverse group of contemporary prints and photos. These are generally large works which involve the printmaker using a number of printing techniques to produce the final master print. Etching, lino cutting, C-Class prints, photography and painted embellishment are all part of contemporary printmaking. This exhibition is a fine display of many of these techniques, including one moving kaleidoscopic image of silkworms on leaves! The new acquisition of thirty panels of fanciful animals and plants, from which the exhibition gets its name, is a wonderful example of master printmaker, Milan Milojevic, creating both a vision of beauty as well as a tour de force of skills.
Thanks to Bryony Nainby and her staff for a wonderful year of exhibitions.