Review :: Tell Me, Tell Me: Australian and Korean Art 1976 – 2011

June 27th 2011


You might have noticed the recent craze with Asian art. It’s hard not to, I mean it’s truly everywhere. But don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad thing, not even slightly. The newest exhibit at the National Art School, Tell Me, Tell Me proves this and more, with a huge collection dedicated to a mix of Australian and Korean art. The exhibit is a look at the cross-cultural exchange between Australia and Korea since the 1970s.

Honestly I don’t know where to begin! There was just so much going on in the six art-packed rooms, with 42 artists featured, I could have stayed there for hours. And if the only fault with the exhibit is ‘too much art’ then I’d be ok with that. To start with was Louise Weaver’s no small wonder, a hand crocheted sculpture piece that is strewn across the floor of the gallery like a brightly coloured, barren landscape. There are pebbles and sparse trees and strange animals, in what should be a disturbing arrangement, yet somehow the warmth of colour and homely feel of the embroidery gives this piece a fun, almost childlike innocence.

The sculptural pieces continue to astound with SeungTeak Lee’s Godret Stone. A truly beautiful artwork that ties stones to a plank of wood. It is almost like Lee is trying to harness the natural world and in a sense he absolutely has. The stones are impregnated with the lines of the string, making the sculpture appear to be hundreds of years old.

The entire exhibit really gives across this feeling of calm and nature. What might be regarded as a strained relationship between two opposing countries is quite the opposite, exploring ideas of contemporary art through reasonably quiet contemplation.

Of course there are a couple of exceptions. Take Australian performance artist Stelarc, who features a number of works. Stelarc pierces his own flesh with hooks to effectively suspend himself, naked in mid-air. Only a recording of the performance from 1990, the photographs still leave you squirming and shocked: the hooks also being included as relics of the act. But even this work has this same sense of humble silence I took away from this exhibit. This is easily one of the best exhibitions of the year so far.


What: Tell Me, Tell Me: Australian and Korean Art 1976 – 2011

Where: National Art School, Darlinghurst

When: Until August 24th

How much: Free


Photo Credit: Seung-Teak Lee Godret Stone 1956–60 stone, string 250 x 150 cm Image courtesy National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea © the artist


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