Zoe Young wins Portia Geach Memorial Award 2018

Congratulations to Zoe Young who has won the $30,000 Portia Geach Memorial Award for 2018.

The judging panel included: Samantha Meers, Art Gallery of New South Wales trustee; Natalie Wilson, curator of Australian and Pacific art at AGNSW; and director of S.H Ervin Gallery Jane Watters.

“The Portia Geach is vital for female artists across the country and has provided a much-needed platform to display the work of young, emerging artists alongside that of established painters whose work I greatly admire. The award gives me the support to progress my artistic practice and I look forward to creating my next body of work.” – Zoe Young

Works by all 50 finalists are on view at the S.H. Ervin Gallery until 2 December. 

See the winning work below.


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Butt Naked II | Alan Jones

Congratulations to Alan Jones and the Sydney Art Quartet for the success of the Butt Naked Salon II at The Yellow House.


To read about the show, please click the link here.

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Camie Lyons | Out on a Limb

Camie Lyons speaks with Maria Stolja about her practice and technique for her upcoming show, Out on a Limb, at OLSEN Gallery.

Exhibition runs from 1 – 19 November

Opening Saturday 4 November 2 – 4 pm

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Sydney art dealer Tim Olsen is about to open the doors on one of his most ambitious projects yet: his own gallery in the thick of New York’s cut-throat contemporary art gallery scene.

Located on Elizabeth Street in Soho’s established gallery enclave, Olsen told PS he was confident the move would be a success, with a long list of Australian and international artists set to grace its walls.

Ambitious project: Tim Olsen is launching a New York gallery. Photo: Anthony Johnson

“With so many of my artists selling over here online, and with my sister’s [designer Louise Olsen] Dinosaur Designs shop going great guns after 10 years in New York, add to that our combined contacts, and I feel confident it would do well,” Olsen said from Miami, where he was exhibiting Sydney artist Martine Emdur whose underwater nudes series were selling strongly.

“I have an experienced, great girl living in New York to run the gallery and other international artists who will exhibit with us. It won’t be a marsupial, Aussie-artists-only gallery,” Olsen said.

Tim Olsen, who represents the work of his father John Olsen, pictured at his gallery in 2015. Photo: Steven Siewert

“So often when I travel globally I often come back knowing some of my artists are as good if not better than some of the artists I see exhibiting in major galleries in the northern hemisphere.

“It’s a low overhead experiment that I’m happy to give a couple years to. I hope some of my artists will attract the respect and prices they deserve, instead of being held back by a small economy.”

Olsen, the son of legendary Australian artist John Olsen, said his two existing galleries in Sydney would continue as is, while his list of high-profile artists around the world continues to grow, with the likes of Noah Taylor and Rose Byrne’s brother George Byrne being represented by him “As they say over here, ‘If you can’t buy it in New York, you can’t buy it anywhere.”

OLSEN GRUIN will open in early 2017, situated in the heart of SoHo at 211 Elizabeth Street, New York City, NY.


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11 FEBRUARY – 5 MARCH 2017

Opening reception Saturday 11 February 2-4pm at OLSEN Annexe, 74 Queen Street Woollahra Sydney

This February, OLSEN Annexe will present New York Nowhere featuring artists Alphachanneling, Jay Miriam and Jesse Edwards, curated by Emerald Gruin.

New York Nowhere bridges the artistic boundary between New York and Sydney in preparation for the upcoming 2017 opening of the OLSEN GRUIN gallery space in New York. These three New York artists explore the female form in altered and corresponding ways.

Alphachanneling’s sensual compositions caused a stir in the artist’s first March 2016 solo exhibition at New York’s Jack Hanley Gallery. Referencing ancient, tantric, Taoist, Hindu and Buddhist tropes, Jerry Saltz exclaimed “there’s an outsider-ish Henri Rousseau quality… Sigmar Polke’s easiness of line and simplicity.” Alphachanneling describes the work as “a devotional prayer to the feminine principal.”

Erotic and graceful, Alphachanneling’s lithe compositions contrast with Jay Miriam’s bold painterly strokes and ascetic and heavy female form. Her work draws the viewer into a secret inquiry of her world – abject limbs that are wide open, expressions that are carnal and raw. Miriam’s July 2016 solo exhibition at Half Gallery on Manhattan’s Upper East Side was widely successful for the young painter of twenty-six.

Jesse Edwards is a downtown New York based fine art oil painter with Vito Schnabel Gallery. Edwards’ juxtaposes his thuggish persona and illicit subject matter with the polished application of old master techniques such as underpainting and extensive glazing to bring forward his vision of the All American woman. Edwards’ fascination with card playing and still life composition is superbly illustrated in his compositions of Queen of Hearts and pinup playing cards.

From top: Alphachanneling, P U S S Y- Colour Version (2016), pencil on paper, 45.7 x 30.4cm. Jay Miriam, Waiting in Line for Ice Cream (2016), oil on linen, 137.1 x 101.6cm. Jesse Edwards, Cardhous with Nude (2015), oil on linen, 137.1 x 121.9cm.

OLSEN GRUIN will open in early 2017, situated in the heart of SoHo at 211 Elizabeth Street, New York City, NY.

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In preparation for her 2017 solo show at Olsen Gallery, Laura Jones reflects on her time visiting the Great Barrier Reef for The Gaurdian, written by .

‘The artist says her undeniably sad portraits of bleached coral on the Great Barrier Reef are about resilience: ‘It’s not a fragile delicate flower … it’s so important to be optimistic and do what we can to protect it’.

Laura Jones is pained by the delicate balance she wants to strike. Her paintings of coral bleaching are going to be engulfing, immersive and undeniably sad. But she wants them to express hope and resilience, too.

It’s something she keeps coming back to before, during and after I visit her studio, where she is preparing a major exhibition.


“It’s not a fragile, delicate flower,” Jones says of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. “It’s quite resilient. Somehow I need to show that in the paintings. But still show that we’re really hammering it.”

Partly inspired by the Guardian’s in-depth coverage of coral bleaching in 2016, including around Lizard Island in the northern reef, Jones packed her bags and became an artist-in-residence on the island for 10 days in August.

Diary note from 19 August

‘I set out for Lizard Island after being in Melbourne for three days for a series of art fairs. After a quick stop at my home in Sydney to pick up my camera, art supplies and a wetsuit, I headed for far north Queensland. From Cairns I made the trip to the research station on a tiny six-seater plane. The journey included spectacular views of the reef and the bright blue sky looked like it was melting into the ocean.”

When she got there, she landed in the epicentre of what was the worst bleaching event the Great Barrier Reef had ever seen. Just a few months earlier, about a quarter of the coral on the entire 2,300km length had been killed, with 85% of that mortality in the northern third – right where Jones landed.

She would go snorkelling or diving for four hours a day, and then go back to her workspace – a desk in a lab shared with scientists – where she would sketch what she saw and write in her diary.

Read the full article here

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Sahjeevan and Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) are jointly hosting the ‘Living Lightly: Journeys with Pastoralists’, a Curated Exhibition of the Life and Livelihood of Pastoralists in India, at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi from 2nd to 18th December 2016.

The 17 day curated traveling exhibition on the land, lives, and livelihoods of Pastoralists in India will capture the lives of Indian pastoralists – their remarkable history of mobility, the eco-systems which nurture their life-world, their culture, science, art, spiritual moorings and the economics of herding. It is being organized with the intent to provide space for the voices of pastoral communities, the exhibition will investigate the changing narratives around pastoralism in India, explore the relevance of herding and herders for environmental conservation, and engage in cultural mapping to unfold the various aspects of these communities’ cultural identities. The exhibition will unfold through a host of events and exhibits including pastoral crafts, music, film, and oral narrative performances. Sushma Iyengar is the lead curator of the Exhibition and has spent the last three years putting together the elements central to the exhibition.

The exhibition will be inaugurated by Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Honourable Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India, at 5 PM on 2nd December 2016 and will be attended by Pastoralists, NGO functionaries, Academicians, Government Officials, and Policy Makers from across India.

We take this opportunity to invite you to attend the Inaugural Function of the Living Lightly Exhibition on 2nd December 2016, and the other events that are planned from 2nd to 18th December. The Inaugural invite, a general event invite, along with a calendar of events to be held during the Exhibition are attached for your reference. Please share this with your friends and family.



“My work is interested in the transformative and reciprocal nature of desert landscapes, places of
wilderness which inspire in some people a particular type of connection to country. It is more than a
way of living or a spiritual restorative, it is a deeper type of nourishment, a symbiotic and intricate
relationship to the natural world which offers a sense of personal identity and meaning. The Maldhari
herders of Kachchh, the Rann and Rajasthan regions of far north-west India are some of the last truly
authentic exemplifiers of this inclusive relationship. My artworks in this exhibition are informed by
bearing witness to their desert migrations and the resulting riches of cultural creativity that is the legacy
of their lives.
The ancient idea of nomadism, of walking the land with animals according to the terrain, the ecology,
and the daily and seasonal rhythms is a very intimate gathering of knowledge, an environmental Ground
Truth. It is also a fundamental human instinct as important as that of story and myth in the human

                                                              Today, however, it is less and less possible for the world’s desert peoples to move freely across                                                                  their traditional lands and routes. Many rights of passage have been lost and living on these lands is
becoming increasingly complicated and fraught with dangers. Under intensifying pressures on their way
of life in the wake of technology driven global development, the Maldhari have exhibited a remarkable
tenacity that is a testament to the cultural and spiritual importance of this people-place relationship and
the human desire for this intricate connection to the natural world. The real value of their lives is not
only in their inherent understanding of the land, but also the living link they provide to historic
indigenous worlds. They offer a completely original contradiction to the global corruption and
homogenisation of art and culture.

In Australia there is a direct living link to this nomadic spirit and cultural heritage of the Maldhari that
stretches back to 1860 when camels were first brought to the continent from India for inland
explorations in the central deserts. Although the cameleering tradition is a threatened heritage
worldwide, I have spent the last ten years as an Expedition Artist walking into remote empty inland
country alongside a traditional camel string. I gather my knowledge on foot, reaching deep into the
whole context of the land, alert to all the details it holds. There are still things that only the human eye
can see and only the human hand can record. My role as an artist is to not only represent what is seen,
but also the unseen.

I have discovered that the people-place relationship to desert landscapes is very particular. There is a
certain instinct that nomadism, walking and living lightly on these lands inspires. As a fellow desert
traveller, the opportunity to know and work with the Maldhari and their culture was an invaluable
experience. We share a special affinity, a collegiality through our relationship to desert lands and our
instinctive artistic compulsions. The experience has given me a much more profound understanding of
the importance of my own contribution in describing the elusive primary sense that lies in the alliance
to the natural world. It has illuminated the extraordinary value of the art and cultural material that flows
from some of the most seemingly harsh and inhospitable places on the planet.”

Jo Bertini
November 2016

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‘Transported’ by OLSEN artist Stephen Bird (alongside Rodger Law) open next week at The Scottish Gallery.
Transported features work from Roger Law and Stephen Bird; spanning three continents and bringing together two very different visions of the world. All the work has been shipped from both China and Australia to be showcased in Edinburgh together for the first time.


TRANSPORTED | Roger Law & Stephen Bird
30 November – 23 December 2016
Private View Tuesday 29 November 6:30 – 8:30pm

To see further images of work available and to view the exhibition catalogue, please follow the link below:

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This December, international, post-conceptual artists Rob Pruitt and Jonathan Horowitz will be showing at OLSEN.

Both based in New York City, this exhibition will be the first time both artist have featured in an Australian gallery.


Jonathan Horowitz slides down the surface of things. He engages with the material of everyday life (from celebrities and celebrity causes to politics and philosophy, from terrorism to the cola wars). He has consistently found incisive metaphors for contemporary society and presented them in complex and rich installations, videos, photographs, paintings and sculpture. This year he was honoured with a Brant Foundation show Occupy Greenwich, which provided a timely reflection on politics in America. In 2009 Horowitz also had an important solo show at MOMA PS1, which cemented him as an important voice in socially engaged and critical art.

Horowitz’s use of the portrait is particularly interesting. ‘Portrait’ is perhaps a misnomer, however, because of its emphasis on the art genre. Horowitz plays in an almost anthropological way with visual culture and has astutely seen that the celebrity portraits, sculptures, portraits hanging on the wall in town halls are less artworks and actually what they were traditionally called – effigies. There is a ‘image magic’ in a portrait hanging in the public hall. Portraits speak to us from the past, they give us advice, they exhort us to action; they are not merely images on the wall.

When Horowitz placed portraits of the 9/11 terrorists surreptitiously around the galleries of the Whitney Biennale they were not merely images but also almost like voodoo dolls, secreting some traumatic power. When he placed portraits of all the presidents in the Brant Foundation he activated the power of the Presidential office, creating a secular Versailles as a stage for his political interventions. In the major work Hillary Clinton is a Person Too, we see another effigy. Larger than life, in bronze, Clinton is at once infantilised and at the same time given the authority of a queen.

Horowitz is aware that the context of this work’s origins has now shifted, but in interesting ways. Like any bronze public sculpture, our context can shift the way we see the sacred figure represented. In the context of the 2016 presidential election the failure present in this piece is more palpable. In 2008 the piece may have seemed like a consolation prize (for her loss to Barack Obama) but in 2016 it seems to highlight her Achilles heel: a proportion of the electorate saw her as an over-eager, overqualified, and entitled class captain.

The main body of work in this exhibition is Self Portrait in the Mirror. This series is based on repainting Lichtenstein’s mirror works, and they are a joke on a joke. Lichtenstein was already riffing on Abstract Expressionism’s obsession with painterly surface. He painted an image of a mirror as if it was printed as a cheap cartoon. Using stencils and careful masking Lichtenstein replicated the quality of a cheap, benday dot print. While in a Lichtenstein the painterly quality is still present, the work eschews the great gesture of the genius artist.

horowitz18079Jonathan Horowitz, Self Portrait in Mirror #12 (2013), acrylic on linen, 61cm diameter, $POA

Horowitz to some extent reinstates the authorly hand. He paints and has others repaint the Lichtenstein, without any aids, and in doing so ‘dials up’ the painterly mistakes. The benday dots are now not perfect, the lines a little shaky. Shown in series the singularity of each rendition is even more palpable, as the series allows the viewer to immediately contrast the copy with another copy set beside it.

The paintings are not really images of mirrors. They embody a struggle in contemporary life: to insist on our individuality while at the same time following an imperative to conform to social values. This series is a perfect metonym for Horowitz’s practice as a whole, in that he re-presents the real, but in a way that highlights the invisible workings of power, ideology and societal belief, often with wit and slight of hand.

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This December, international, post-conceptual artists Rob Pruitt and Jonathan Horowitz will be showing at OLSEN.

Both based in New York City, this exhibition will be the first time both artist have featured in an Australian gallery.


Rob Pruitt is a major figure in the contemporary art scene in New York. He works in a broad spectrum of media, from sculpture, installation and print to painting and conceptual forays. Over the last twenty years his work has, by critical consensus, reached a new level of maturity and importance. His recent show at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (New York), which included the series Suicide Paintings, was considered by Roberta Smith, the art critic for the New York Times, as “possibly the best of his career.”

The work in this exhibition particularly focuses on his painting practice through two major series: his signature Panda series (started in 2001) and the more recent Suicide Paintings. Because contemporary artists like Pruitt can choose to represent ideas in whichever way they choose, there is a conscious choice here to utilise painting as the frame. Because of this, Pruitt’s work has been characterised as post-conceptual painting, in that it is a form of painting that comes after the ‘anything goes’ of contemporary art. Post-conceptual painting holds in it the history and traditions of painting as well as the wit and ideas of conceptual art, minimalism and other approaches of late modernism.

pruitt18109Rob Pruitt, Suicide XCIII, acrylic on linen, 206 x 274cm, $POA

His signature series Panda clearly references Warhol’s serial approach to images. The longer Pruitt pursues this project the more thorough the conceptual serialism becomes. Warhol’s schtick was that everything was merely surface, and that paintings meant almost nothing; he used to insist that he had others at The Factory choose the subject matter and images for him. But critics have subsequently pointed to the more serious subject matter (riots, electric chairs, The Last Supper etc) to suggest that his work did mean something and was a critique of society at the time. In the end it is up to the viewer to decide whether his images are in earnest or ironic pastiche.

Pruitt’s Pandas seem to function in the same way, between kitsch and the serious politics of the Anthropocene. In interviews the artist has asserted the panda was his childhood favourite, a personal totem. The panda is cuddly, kind and bumbling, a friendly giant, that sits cross legged, like a scholar hermit, in bamboo groves. It is present in visual culture from Harajuku girl hair ties to the iconic logo of the World Wildlife fund. Pruitt has said that the panda is a reminder of what we are doing to our planet and how we threaten other life forms with our rapacious appetites for space and resources. The paintings sit provocatively somewhere in between direct political activism and the cute.

This equivocation drives the concept behind the Suicide Paintings, a very morbid title for such beauteous paintings. If there is a sense of finality in these works they are also completely hopeful, uplifting and intimate. They feel as if Kazimir Malevich had been asked to create a screen saver or Joseph Albers had been commissioned by Pantone, and yet lose none of painting’s ability to point towards the sublime. The colour is intense and overwhelming, and the series is frequently compared to Rothko’s religiosity or even Renaissance skies. And yet the works remain situated in the present, and the hand-painted gradient, the old form of paint on canvas, beautifully mediates our dehumanising digital age with our insistence on life’s meaning.

The use of painting, to these conceptual ends, recovers for the dry conceptual art of the seventies the power and constancy of beauty. In both these series beauty and aesthetic pleasure are a provocation to the materialists, that prefer dirty realness. Both series point towards possibilities of transcendence.


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