Wednesday 10 December 2008


Frankly, many of my visits to galleries involve bad surprises. Conversely, this is for a good reason - I'm often overly-excited about the new show, new work, new space, whatever. So gallery visits can end up being a bit like Christmas - better in anticipation.*

Of course, this means that a good surprise becomes a great one. I had this with the Yinka Shonibare show at the MCA in Sydney. After not enjoying the Fiona Hall show at City Gallery Wellington, I thought I'd be equally put-off by the highly wrought tableaux that Shonibare creates.

And yet not. There was a spaciousness to the show - not just in the hang, which gave plenty of space to individual pieces - but to the way I could look at, think about and interpret the works. The excessive craftiness that gave me the willies in Fiona Hall seemed not the point of the works, but simply the way that Shonibare's ideas are brought into being.

And I loved Reverend on ice (2005). As with Maurizio Cattelan's We are the revolution, it made me want to laugh aloud - that sheer delight that I so rarely get and so treasure when I do. The fact that it reminded me of Johnny Depp circa Sleepy Hollow also did no harm ...

NB: Best of 3 will be away until Monday. See you then.

* Hey, who knew? I'm a gallery grinch.

Yinka Shonibare, Reverend on Ice, 2005. Life-size fiberglass mannequin, Dutch wax-printed cotton, steel. Image from


Sarah Eades said...

So glad you liked the exhibition as we will be showing Yinka Shonibare MBE at the Auckland Art Gallery in 2009. Very exciting! Stay tuned for more details on the website soon.

Anonymous said...

ummm, it's appropriated....

Courtney Johnston said...

ummmmmmmm, that's kinda the point. At least one of them. What I liked about the work was that pinpointing the work it references wasn't the end of looking at/reacting to it - it had legs beyond that act.