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John Curtin Gallery celebrates its reopening with exhibition of significant works from the Collection

Lauren Sydoruk

20/07/2020

The John Curtin Gallery will reopen at the end of July with an exhibition of 50 significant, recently acquired art works, which celebrate the success of its three-year 50fifty Acquisition Initiative.

Aida Tomescu, Ultraviolet, 2009, oil on linen, 183 x 147cm. Curtin University Art Collection. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Aida Tomescu, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Fox Jensen Gallery
Aida Tomescu, Ultraviolet, 2009, oil on linen, 183 x 147cm. Curtin University Art Collection. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Aida Tomescu, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Fox Jensen Gallery.

John Curtin Gallery Director, Chris Malcolm and Collection Manager, Lia McKnight have co-curated 50fifty:2020 to showcase a selection of 50 of more than 100 artworks acquired through the initiative, rejuvenating the Curtin University Art Collection – one of WA’s most important public art collections. The works on display includes painting, photographs, mixed media, sculpture, ceramics, video and works on paper.

The exhibition was originally scheduled to open in early September for the Gallery’s Djilba season but brought forward into the Djeran season due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its 2020 Program. Other exhibitions have been postponed to 2021.The Gallery has implemented new health and safety measures in line with government guidelines to ensure visitors relax and enjoy the in-gallery experience. Opening hours will also change with the Gallery no longer opening on Sunday afternoon, and instead trialling an evening session commencing Wednesday evenings. .

Mr Malcolm said the exhibition clearly illustrates how successful the 50fifty Initiative has been by attracting major donations as well as the resources necessary to purchase significant works for the Collection.

“The generosity of our supporters and donors has never been more important, and it seems fitting that this is the exhibition that allows the Gallery to reopen.” Mr Malcolm said.

“The works we have been fortunate to acquire include greatly admired works that have featured in recent exhibitions.” Through building strong relationships with major contemporary artists that we have featured in our Exhibition Programs and welcomed to the John Curtin Gallery in recent years, we have been blessed by the generosity of several artists who have donated major works to the Collection, as well as our regular Donors who have provided the funds to enable us to purchase significant works, which has served to support to artists during this time.

“Following his exhibition Ritual Intimacies in May 2019, Christian Thompson kindly donated two major video installations to our Collection as part of our negotiations to acquire the major four-panelled photographic work “Subconscious Whispers ”.

“Visitors to Brian Robinson’s acclaimed exhibition Tithuyil – Moving with the Rhythm of the Stars that was launched in October 2019, will recall the magnificent large-scale wall work and on the fifth day the waters swarmed with sea creatures, 2018 which, in an extraordinary act of generosity, the artist donated after we acquired the large print Bedhan Lag: land of the Kalwalagal, 2019 that complements our existing Brian Robinson print By Virtue of this Act 2017, acquired in 2018.

“Earlier this year, we acquired several large photographic works by Ian Strange that were featured in our very successful Perth Festival exhibition Ian Strange – Suburban Interventions 2008–2020. The artist then very generously donated another large iconic photographic work RUN 2015 and two major video installations SHADOW, 2016 and FINAL CUT, 2013 to the Collection.

The 50fifty Initiative, which was launched in 2017 with the major acquisition of Brian Blanchflower’s multi-panelled painting Canopy XXII (Time Generator), 1990, is bookended with Lindy Lee’s sculpture Equanimity (no more struggles in the ocean of ‘yes’ and ‘no’) from the series The Four Immeasurables, 2017.

The Curtin University Art Collection traces its beginnings to 1967 and the commitment of the University’s founding leaders of the Western Australian Institute of Technology to develop a Collection for the benefit of its staff and students. Over the last 53 years, the Collection’s development has often reflected a mixture of the prevailing curatorial and socio-political concerns of the time.

Further information on the 2020 revised program can be found here: https://jcg.curtin.edu.au/2020-major-exhibitions-program-2/