Space, Light, Art and the Sublime

Almagul Menlibayeva Kazakhstan_Wrapping history 2010Sublime: Contemporary works from the Collection brings together more than 20 of the Queensland Art Gallery’s most important large scale works and new acquisitions, highlighting the strength of the Gallery’s contemporary sculpture holdings.

Kathryn Weir, Head of International Art and the Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA, said the exhibition considered translations of the sublime in European and North American art history, to resonances in contemporary works from Asia, the Middle East and other cultural contexts.

“The past three decades have seen a sustained attention to various concepts of the sublime in philosophy and in contemporary art writing. Notions of the digital sublime and of an ecological sublime have also emerged,” says Weir.

“The exhibition brings together artists who engage with sacred architectures and widely different cultural histories, to create effects of wonder and uncertainty and differing representations of ‘the sublime’.”

“Being shown for the first time in the sweeping architectural spaces of QAG are works such as Zilvinas Kempinas’s Columns 2006, an installation created from VCR tape that appears both solid and ethereal, Timo Nasseri’s highly polished geometrical form Epistrophy VI 2012 that references Islamic architecture, and Michael Sailstorfer’s Wolken (Clouds) 2010, a sculptural installation of more than 300 tyre inner tubes knotted into cloud-like shapes overhead.”

Having recently undergone an extensive reconstruction by the Center for Visual Music in Los Angeles, Raumlichtkunst (Space-Light-Art) c.1926/2012 by pioneering abstract artist and filmmaker Oskar Fischinger, has been acquired by the Gallery and will be shown as a highlight of Sublime: Contemporary works from the Collection.

The three-channel projection HD video installation by the German-American avant-garde filmmaker and artist has recently been shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Tate Modern, London, and Palais de Tokyo, Paris.

Various works in the exhibition will also engage with familiar concepts of the sublime deriving from the Romantic era, including Bill Viola’s early video work Chott el-Djerid (A portrait in light and heat) 1979, acquired in 1999 with funds from James C Sourris AM through the QAGOMA Foundation, with its extreme landscapes of desert and ice, and Bill Henson’s Untitled 2008-09, depicting a mysterious island in dramatic chiaroscuro composition of clouds, rocks and water.

QAGOMA Director Chris Saines said the exhibition also brought into focus the importance of philanthropy in the continued development of the Collection. “Many of the works have been acquired through the QAGOMA Foundation with the generous support of Foundation President Tim Fairfax AC, Brisbane sisters Margaret Mittelheuser AM and Cathryn Mittelheuser AM, The Myer Foundation and Michael Sidney Myer,” said Saines.

Sublime: Contemporary works from the Collection Queensland Art Gallery, Stanley Place, Cultural Precinct, South Bank (Brisbane) Exhibition: 30 August 2014 – 24 May 2014 Free entry

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Image: Almagul Menlibayeva Kazakhstan, Wrapping history 2010 Duratrans print in light box, purchased 2010 with a special allocation from the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation. Collection: Queensland Art Gallery