(Images above: Diena Georgetti, The Humanity of Construction Painting, 2017, acrylic on canvas, framed, Courtesy the artist and The Commercial, Sydney)
The 2017 Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize was today awarded to Melbourne-based artist Diena Georgetti and Melbourne-based emerging artist Kenny Pittock. Celebrating its 21st year, the Prize is among Australia’s best-known art awards, spanning all mediums and offering a total of $36,000 in prize money. Diena Georgetti was awarded the established artist category ($25,000) for The Humanity of Construction Painting (2017) and Kenny Pittock was awarded the emerging artist category ($10,000) for Fifty-two found shopping lists written by people who need milk (2016).
The judges for this year’s Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize – Justin Paton (Head Curator for International Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales), Judith Blackall (NAS Gallery Curator) and Mark Harpley (Visual Arts Coordinator, Redlands School) – announced the award at the opening night of the exhibition of finalist works presented at the National Art School Gallery in Sydney. The judges remarked that this year’s Prize offered a very strong field of artwork in both the established and emerging artist categories, making it a particularly difficult to select an outright winner.
Justin Paton said: “Diena Georgetti’s painting is a beautiful work, exceptionally well made, which reprises and reimagines a century-long history of abstract painting on new terms. It is major offering, clearly she has invested considerable thought in its making.”
Judith Blackall added: “Georgetti is an artist whose work merits careful consideration, ‘slow viewing’, as her approach is complex and links to rigorous aesthetic, intellectual and historical values.”
Diena Georgetti (b. 1966, Alice Springs) has been a significant figure in Australian contemporary art since the late 1980s. Her work was included last year in the major, two-chapter survey exhibition of contemporary Australian painting, Painting. More Painting, curated by Max Delany, Annika Kristensen and Hannah Mathews at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne. Georgetti was one of fourteen artists whose work was featured in-depth within the larger exhibition.
“In her acrylic on canvas work The Humanity of Construction Painting (2017) Georgetti has achieved a successful equilibrium through the considered resolution that belies its intrinsic compositional tensions. The work will be a valuable asset to the learning and teaching at Redlands as an object in its own right and in regards to the inherent complexities of abstraction in Georgetti’s material and conceptual practice,” added Mark Harpley Head of Visual Arts at Redlands School.
Emerging artist Kenny Pittock’s winning work is a humorous and strangely poignant investigation into the everyday: 52 shopping lists discarded in the milk section of a supermarket. The artist has faithfully reproduced every detail of each slip of paper. His use of white earthenware that materially appropriates paper, and his painstaking attention to detail is extraordinary. The range of languages in the various shopping lists, the often intimate items the shoppers listed, and the occasional personal notes, are touching and, in a way, poetic. Its down-to-earth materiality and emphasis on the hand and the eye makes an interesting juxtaposition to Diena Georgetti’s refined abstraction.
Mark Harpley commented on Kenny Pittock’s winning work in the emerging artist category: “The interplay of the delicate earthenware permanently recording the ephemera of daily consumption and wasteful human nature combined with its intrinsic humour will ensure this work will resonate with and excite our students.”
The judges felt this is a good winning duo with the leading prize awarded to Diena Georgetti and the emerging artist prize to Kenny Pittock. In their work, both artists deliver a rigour in their respective approaches, subject matter, technique and media.
Celebrating its 21st anniversary, the annual exhibition and acquisitive art award highlights exciting developments in contemporary art and provides a platform for an artist-selected exhibition that features established artists alongside early-career artists. The exhibition’s guest curator, internationally regarded Melbourne-based artist Callum Morton made the selection in line with the Prize’s model, which sees the curator nominate established artists, who in turn each choose one emerging artist to create work for the exhibition.
Participating artists have no limitations on their choice of media or subject matter and can submit a single recent work to contend for one of two prizes. The main award for established artists is the Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize, valued at $25,000 and sponsored by Konica Minolta. The Emerging Artist Prize is valued at $10,000 and sponsored by Glenburn Pastoral Company (Brett Whitford). Most works are available for purchase with the exception of the winning works that are acquired into the permanent art collection of Redlands School, in accordance with the tradition of the Prize.
MEDIA CONTACT: To request artist and curator interviews or press imagery of art works in the exhibition, please contact Jasmine Hersee, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0406 649 393 or Kym Elphinstone, email@example.com, 0421 106 139.
EXHIBITION DETAILS: The 2017 Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize is exhibited from 28 March until 20 May 2017 at the National Art School Gallery (NAS Gallery), located within the National Art School’s historic campus on the corner of Forbes and Burton Streets, Sydney NSW. The exhibition is free-of-charge and open to the public and works are available for purchase with the exception of the winning works that are acquired into the permanent art collection of Redlands School. For more information visit:
The established and emerging artist pairings for 2017 are:
A Constructed World and Amanda Radomi
ABOUT THE REDLANDS KONICA MINOLTA ART PRIZE: The Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize was established in 1996 by Redlands School and has been presented at the National Art School Gallery since 2012. The two winning artworks in the established and emerging categories become part of Redlands School’s permanent art collection, providing a valuable resource for visual arts students and teachers. Over the past two decades Redlands School has built a remarkable collection of major works by some of Australia’s most sought-after contemporary artists including past winners Pat Brassington (2016), Mikala Dwyer (2015), Vernon Ah Kee (2014), Callum Morton (2013), Ben Quilty (2012), Rodney Pople (2006), Lindy Lee (1998), Gordon Bennett (1997) and Imants Tillers (1996).
GUEST CURATOR CALLUM MORTON CURATORIAL STATEMENT: My curatorial rationale was quite simple and in many ways, it is more structural than driven by particular themes/ideas. I looked at the past inclusions in the exhibition and realised how many excellent artists had never been invited to show. So I decided only to invite artists that hadn't been included before. It was also apparent that artists’ groups, or artists who worked collaboratively as a primary part of their practice, were also rarely represented in the past and so I wanted to include these practices because, for one, they have been and increasingly, are a very important part of the cultural landscape of this country and also because they tend to be excluded from the mainstream which consistently prefers the individual narrative to the collective one. Finally, I wanted to include people who had a direct connection to a younger generation through their various communities, so that the conversation between the generations might make some sense when assembled together. For instance, there are many artists included who teach at a range of tertiary institutions around the country and who have had a significant and continuing influence on successive generations of artists. This simple and inclusive structural shift means that the 2017 iteration of the Redlands Art Prize will have the largest and perhaps most diverse range of participants in its history.
GUEST JUDGE JUSTIN PATON’S COMMENTS ON DIENA GEORGETTI’S WINNING WORK: This is a strange and beautiful painting. There’s a lot to look at while you’re standing in front of it and a lot to think about when you move on. I love the care and control that’s in it, the sense the artist needed to see it just so. But I also like the way that control is balanced by oddity and uncertainty and questions. It’s clearly the work of someone deeply immersed in the daily practice of painting, who measures tones and attends to edges with special intensity and feeling. It’s also very clearly the work of someone with a head full of the history of painting, one of the nice things about imagining it in a teaching environment is that it contains so much memory and history.
When I look at the work, it calls to mind the memories of many paintings, especially works made in the hopeful early days of the revolution known as abstract painting. How could painting shed its pomp and artifice and offer a new visual language fit for a changing modern world? This was the question that the artists Georgetti clearly looks to were asking. And she resumes their inquiry in an era when the role of painting is less secure. The muted tones and sombre light in this painting seem to concede that the situation is different. Yet the care and concentration felt in the work assert that the quest is still worth it. Indeed there’s a feeling that Georgetti in this work is assembling a private museum of influences, populating the space inside the frame with echoes and recollections. Kazimir Malevich’s utopian shapes (rocketing rectangles, black crosses) seem to fly upward through the scene, while the curved forms in the centre calls to mind the shapely still lives of Picasso, Gris and Lhote – their guitars, carafes and palettes. At left sit forms that call to mind colour field painting and French mid-century abstraction, while the jagged forms at right introduce the sense of a shadowed room or an unfolding interior. These visual memories mingle and merge, sometimes gracefully and sometimes with tension (the blue is the chromatic key to the scene, a ‘tuning’ slice of Matisse).
The result is a dream of painting’s past that also has an arresting here-and- now presence.
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