On the weekend I went to the National Gallery in Canberra. I think it was my first time this year, after making multiple visits each year since 2011 when I first started painting.
Every time I went to Canberra, the gallery would be one place I’d regularly visit. On one occasion I spent a whole day there, apart from an hour when I walked down the road to the nearby National Portrait Gallery.
This year I’ve done very little painting, and as a result had less desire to go to the NGA.
A few weeks ago I caught a short news item on TV about recent changes to the Gallery’s exhibition spaces.
In the simplest terms, there had been a switching of the International and Australian galleries. What had been downstairs, (International paintings) had been swapped with those that had been upstairs (Australian paintings).
Another claimed change was the lighting of Pollock’s Blue Poles. New lights had been created specifically for the Pollock to give a truer view of the colours used, so the painting for the first time would look exactly as it should.
This was my first visit since the changes, and I was very disappointed with what had been done.
Firstly the place seemed over-lit. The brightness created a clinical sterility.
Secondly I felt there was no logical flow of ideas, styles or eras in the display of the art.
I could also see no difference with Blue Poles, despite the special lighting.
On the positive side, Colin McCahon’s Victory Over Death 2 had a much better location. It was once again hanging at a more favourable height after spending a couple of years of hung 4 metres above floor level over an enquiry counter.
It is now one of my three favourites in the gallery. The other two being McCahon’s VOD2 and Imants Tillers Terra Incognita, another massive artwork that is full of detail; a painting that could be viewed for hours to find all of the images and text it incorporates.