To coincide with the current Melbourne season of Empire by Spiegelworld on the Rooftop at Crown, a never-before-seen art exhibition is being presented to celebrate The Art of Spiegelworld by Mark Ogge.
Since its debut in New York City in 2006, Spiegelworld has commissioned the Melbourne artist to create paintings inspired by each of the company’s unique spiegeltent shows which have reinvented the traditions of circus and vaudeville for a 21st century audience. The first commission was to create a giant ceremonial entrance gate to Spiegelworld’s first site at Pier 17 near the Brooklyn Bridge.
Ever since Degas and Renoir painted the performers at Cirque Fernando in 1879 Paris, and Toulouse-Lautrec captured life at the Moulin Rouge, the world of circus and vaudeville has attracted painters who have been captivated by this colourful and eccentric world. Picasso, Leger and Chagall were all infatuated by circus imagery.
Mark Ogge is an accomplished painter known for his haunting, dreamlike paintings which evoke childhood memories and often use fairground or circus imagery. Represented by Flinders Lane Gallery he has been exhibited widely in Melbourne.
“One thing that has kept drawing me back is fairground imagery. Whenever I saw a circus pull up in town, or the Royal Melbourne Show, or Moomba, I was just really drawn to that as subject matter,” said Mark Ogge.
“There was something visual about it that really appealed. It was the colours, the darkness, the lights, but there was also something in the subject matter… it is full of psychological intensity, it’s a fascinating microcosm of life. You know, you’ve got all sorts of different people and it’s kind of anonymous. I love it as subject matter. It’s so richly metaphoric and visually exciting.”
Spiegelworld Impresario, Ross Mollison, said, “Since 2006 I have been asking Mark to create a new artwork to celebrate the opening of each of our new Spiegelworld shows. The result is always a fascinating counterpoint to the art we create on stage, and a lasting impression of the ephemeral nature of live performance.”
“To us at Spiegelworld, each artwork is resonant with deep meaning, but to the casual viewer they shine as gorgeous stand-alone works of art. Knowing the story behind each piece just adds to the enjoyment.”
“Ross is a fantastic patron to work with”, adds Mark. “He has an amazing ability to generate ideas, which have been really formative of the designs, but he is completely happy for me to have complete artistic freedom with the work.”
The feature of this retrospective exhibition is a large three-dimensional, mechanically operated diorama built by Mark’s team which brings his Spiegelworld paintings to life; a vintage proscenium arch stage filled with moving acrobats, aerial artists and other curiosities.
The piece was commissioned by Ross Mollison to celebrate the January opening of the show Vegas Nocturne at the new Spiegelworld venue Rose.Rabbit.Lie at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The stunning work is reminiscent of Martin Engelbrecht’s 18th century miniature paper theatres and Daguerre’s popular diorama theatre in early 19th century Paris. It has been a huge technical challenge with more than 20 individual motors animating the characters.
In addition to his work with Spiegelworld, Mark was commissioned to create the façade for David Bates’ beautiful living artwork – the Edinburgh-based venue known as The Famous Spiegeltent, which until recently has been a regular fixture on the Arts Centre Melbourne forecourt.
The original painting study for that large work is also included in the current exhibition at Crown. Mark was also commissioned to create the magnificent mural 1001 Nights for the Scenic Railway station at Melbourne’s Luna Park.
The Art of Spiegelworld
Crown Melbourne, Whiteman Street, Southbank
Exhibition: 4 – 16 April 2014
Free entry to ticket holders of Empire
Empire continues to 11 May 2014. For more information, visit: www.empireaustralia.com
Image: Spiegelworld Diorama by Mark Ogge