Robert Nelson, The Age May 30, 2012, Art Melbourne 2012.
Melbourne's Affordable Art Fair, Royal Exhibition Building, Nicholson Street, Carlton, May 24-27
WITH Napoleon entering Melbourne with masterpieces fit for an emperor, it's easy to imagine that art belongs to a privileged few and the rest of us are priced out of the market. This impression of art's unreachable grandeur is misleading and makes potential buyers shy of enriching their spaces with thoughtful pieces, which are still cheaper than a beach holiday and reward attention in perpetuity.
Art Melbourne 2012, the affordable art fair, provides a good opportunity to gauge the range closer to entry-level for collectors. Much of the work is mannered and full of cliches, but many pieces stand out as having both decorative appeal and conceptual integrity.
A strong example is Lyndal Hargrave at the Anita Traverso Gallery stand. Her Lotus Grid is an ingenious evocation of sacred geometry using wooden coat hangers. The wall sculpture arranges the triangular frames in a matrix but inverts their function, where the humble instrument of domestic order is put into a new order, implicitly some higher harmonic register, well beyond the wardrobe.
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Lizon's Bauble Baby.
At the same stand, Susan Buret makes decorative use of shredded passports, which resemble patterns in holy Islamic architecture. The sturdy predictability of the ornament is poetically deceived, and we end up looking at the surface with much pathos, thinking about so many refugees whose lives are crippled by a fateful lack of paperwork.