Sidney Nolan at Ikon Gallery
Written by Tom Godwin
In our ever expanding journey to experience as much culture as we can get our hands on we took a trip to one of big hitters in modern and contemporary art, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham.
Found just off Broad Street in Brindleyplace, Ikon is an escape from the manic shopping districts of New Street and the Bullring. Ikon has been part of Birminghams art scene since its first inception in the mid-sixties. It provides a constantly changing landscape of exhibitions from internationally recognised artists as well as plenty of public engagement and educational events.
Most import of all though it is completely free!
We jumped on the train and within twenty minutes we’d arrived from Coventry. Our sole aim was to witness a very special exhibition of work by the late great Australian artist Sidney Nolan. Put on as part of a nationwide program to celebrate a century since the old boys birth the exhibition showcases a selection of spray painted portraits created towards the later years of Nolan’s life.
They’re large, loud, surreal as fuck and I love them.
Walking in you are surrounded on all sides by these abstract forms looming over you full of vague, deadpan expressions. The portraits have a very ethereal, ghostlike nature, accentuated by the chosen medium of spray paint which I can only imagine was an intentional decision.
Detail is sacrificed, bold colours and fluid expression is the order of the day. Many of the subjects depicted held large personal significance to Nolan including his brother and also fellow artist Francis Bacon. These feel like portraits of Nolan’s emotional connection to the subjects. My personal favourite of these works is “Illuminations (1982)” here blue and whites softly combine to create a cloud like surreal facial figure.
There is also a collection of works depicting aboriginal subjects. A theme explored in early Nolan work depicting the candid treatment of the indigenous Australian population at by the European settlers.
But for me its all about the portraits!
The exhibition runs until the third of September alongside various other exhibitions and events.
Visit the event page online at here.