Friday, November 29, 2013

Boyd watching

Some of our great art experiences have been outside art museums, so if you're ever in Melbourne there's a stunner in the Arts Centre just down the road from the National Gallery of Victoria. It's the building with the Eiffel Tower-like spire. Go in through the main doors and down the stairs to the box office level except at the bottom turn left instead of right. Here you'll find 16 Arthur Boyd paintings commissioned for this space. When art people claims works are 'museum quality' this is what they're talking about. And the environment is fantastic. No barriers and no glazing. Lots of comfortable seating and the sound of rehearsals drifting in from the performance venues. 
The red and gold d├ęcor (it was going to be red marble and red leather) is straight from the glory days of the late seventies and the number of mirrors is extreme but somehow it works out fine. You can spend as much time as you like alone (we had them to ourselves for over an hour) with some beautiful paintings of the Shoalhaven River, Pulpit Rock and a couple of larger works, one called The actor (a crowned figure with a chook slung over his shoulder) and the other a landscape with one of Boyd’s signature dogs. Curiously, as evocative of the Australian landscape as they are, these paintings were made by Boyd while he was living in London.
Images: top, stairway to heaven. Bottom a sampling of the 16 paintings that line the halls.