Category Archives: Painting

Mona Yes Mona No

We finally managed to make it to the Mona, the Museum of New and Old Art, in Hobart, Tasmania. There’s quite a bit of hype about this new museum Down Under, and it is certainly different from what we are used to in Australia. The museum is the baby of David Walsh, a millionaire  from Tasmania who made his fortune with gambling systems and owns a private art collection. He decided to give something back to the place he is from and built a museum to his image. The museum itself is quite different – the architecture is amazing and worth the trip itself. To get to the Mona you can drive, but what I reckon is the cooler way to reach it is by using Mona’s private boat, painted camouflage-style and with cool stuff inside – you can also enjoy food and coffee and the half-hour ride is very relaxing. Upon arrival, a flight of stairs takes you up to the museum. Watch out if you are going on a weekend, it gets very busy – both the museum and the boat, so book in advance. What I liked about the museum is: the eclectic art collection; the theme is definitely sex and death, but the variety and originality in the pieces of art is quite amazing; the architecture, as I mentioned before; the fact that it is in Hobart; and how everyone gets into it. There are however a few things that didn’t gel with me: the space is quite narrow, and when it is busy, it gets really hard to walk around and the atmosphere gets stuffy (it’s all underground too, very dark and with no windows); there is no signage next to the art: what you are supposed to do is use an App or your phone or get headphones (they are available) – the problem I see with that is that if you are with someone and want to talk about what you are seeing, you can’t do that with headphones, and you don’t necessarily want to listen to a recording; when I looked around I could see many visitors reading their App instead of looking at the Art; there is no other way to know what you are looking at and this is annoying; there is also no visible logic in how the art is exhibited; and finally, because it is a maze, you end up missing some of the art. It’s still a great experience. There are also bars and restaurants and cafes to relax and enjoy a glass of wine of the nearby wineries. There’s even a brewery. If you get there early, you may get a seat!

Mona1 Mona5 Mona2 Mona3 Mona4

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Filed under Arts, Australia, Exhibitions, Painting

My Three Friends

Zhou Sicong, Children at Play, 1991

I saw a wonderful exhibition today, which shows a selection of around 60 paintings and calligraphies by three artists, Lu Chen (1935–2003), Zhou Sicong (1939–1996), and Shi Hu (1942– ). Pictures are mostly in ink and colour on paper, and were collected by Dr Leung Kam Ching over the course of thirty years. Some of the pictures are exquisite; they need to be seen from various angles to realise the power that lies underneath each one. My favourite ones are from Shi Hu and Lu Chen. “A keen collector of Chinese antiquities, Dr Leung began to include contemporary paintings to his Jian Gu Xuan collection in the 1980s. Leung’s interest in traditional Chinese culture, and specifically the expression of the human figure, can be seen as a consistent theme throughout his painting collection. Another prominent theme is that of friendship as Leung’s collecting of these paintings arose out of his close personal relationships both with the husband and wife team of Lu Chen and Zhou Sicong, as well as with the iconoclastic contemporary artist Shi Hu.” (Extract from the exhibition’s brochure)

Lu Chen, Painter Zheng Banqiao, 1988

The exhibition was supposed to end on 15 February, but I went on the 16th and it was still open, so you may try your luck. I love the calligraphy below.

Shi Hu, Calligraphy Couplet, 1995

The exhibition is held at the University Museum and Art Gallery – UMAG
94 Bonham Road, Pokfulam (University of Hong Kong) – Hong Kong
Opening hours are Monday to Saturday 9:30 am to 6:00 pm; Sunday 1:00 to 6:00 pm
Admission is free.

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Filed under Arts, China, Exhibitions, Hong Kong, Painting

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Murakami‘s writing is beautiful. It is extremely evocative, subtle, yet powerful. Each scene draws you into a life of its own; you can smell it, feel it, hear it and see it, a feast for all senses. Yet Murakami’s writing never draws attention to itself, and that’s what I like about it. With Norwegian Wood he has created a story which will stay in the reader’s mind for a long time. This novel is a coming of age story interwoven with a stunning love story, but it’s also about grieving, life in Japan and a lot more. Toru Watanabe is learning to deal with the suicide of his best friend, aged seventeen, while falling in love with his ex-girlfriend, Naoko. Unfortunately Naoko is dealing with her own demons and has a nervous breakdown, from which she will never recover. But Toru’s love is not diminished by this, if not strengthened. During his search for identity, meaning of life, love, pleasure, and sex, Toru encounters a variety of fascinating characters, from Storm-Trooper, his quirky room-mate, to Reiko, Naoko’s patient friend in the asylum, and Midori, another student, the only one with a real anchor in the world. Murakami is a magician: the characters he creates are more real than normal novel protagonists, they are all quirky in their own way, all searching for something, all passionate, and all in desperate need of love. This novel moved me. I read it in one sitting. Very few writers are capable of creating atmospheres the way Murakami creates them. In fact, he is an artist, and I feel his writing is like Japanese sumie (black and white ink painting): with just a few simple strokes, a stunning picture appears in front of your eyes. Not too much, not too little, with enough room for imagination, this is what Murakami’s writing is like. I did get annoyed at times with Toru’s character, too passive for my liking, but this has to do more with my own character than with the book. After reading this novel, you will feel different, I can almost guarantee it. And this is what good writing should be all about, shouldn’t it? Ten stars.

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Filed under Books, Painting, Reading, writing

Emotions-Couleurs: an exhibition

Acrylics, watercolours and mixed techniques by Chantal Parisse

La Garde-Adhemar, Provence – 24 July to 1 August – Opening 24 July 6pm

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Gravity and Drift

For those of you living in Sydney, I recommend a visit to Charles Hewitt Gallery, where an exhibition of Suey McEnnally is currently taking place. Suey’s work is powerful, yet subtle and her paintings are full of light and a million nuances. She says, “I have scratched, gauged, scarred and built onto these surfaces to capture the essence of Australian landscapes.” And the result is fantastic.

335 South Dowling Street, Darlinghurst, until 19 July 2010

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Watercolours: the travelling artist

Chantal Parisse is not the only one who likes to travel, but what she brings back from her trips is unique. Landscapes, atmospheres, children at play, locals at work, all depicted in wonderful, touching, vibrant watercolours. She was born in Cambodia, grew up in Africa, and now lives in France. The cultures and the diversity she came in contact with during her childhood still influence the way she sees the world today, whether in Europe, Guyana, India, Thailand, or China.

Chantal Parisse expresses what she sees and feels through her watercolours. Watercolour is a technique that is both simple and demanding: it combines pigments with water in a subtle way, an art mastered through a permanent search for the right line, the right nuance, and the right drop of water… The perfect medium to represent ordinary moments of ordinary people’s lives – anywhere on the planet. Chantal insists on the fact that she only paints places that she has visited or where she has lived, thus epitomising the concept of travelling artist. The reason behind it is that what she depicts in her painting are the emotions, the energy, and the atmosphere of the place, which she could not describe if she hadn’t experienced them in the fist place. As a consequence, each country has its own colour theme. Chantal also insists on the fact that the art of watercolour resides in a series of individuals “tasks”, which together create the end result, a painting mixing lightness, subtlety and depth. A fascinating, short video depicts this process on her website.

It is after a trip to China in November 2005 that Chantal decided to share her work with others. On her website you will find travel diaries (series of watercolours) from Brazil, China, Costa Rica, France, and many more countries. Other watercolours include countries such as Djibouti, Ecuador, Jordan or Spain. Take time to visit her website; you won’t be disappointed. Chantal also regularly exhibits and sells her work in France and internationally. And for those who’ve been wondering about the uncanny similarity between Chantal’s last name and mine… she is a cousin of mine, and I am very proud of her and her work!

Chantal Parisse’s website:


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