Charles Cooper – Australian Artist

I recently had the pleasure of spending an afternoon at the studio of the Australian artist, Charles Cooper. Charles is a long standing professional artist of high repute.

Charles has started an exciting project of producing a monograph of his work and required some additional photography for pieces he wanted to include.

I must admit I am really into the “surface” of painting and the surfaces of Charles’ paintings are lush and seductive which does it for me.

Charles has a long standing relationship with Annandale Galleries and his work can be seen if you click on the link.

New textile works by Rhonda Pryor

Rhonda pictured with one of her recent works

I’ve been photographing Rhonda Pryor’s works and exhibitions for many years.  Originally Rhonda was my studio buddy when we both worked in the same warehouse building in Lilyfield – me with my photography and Rhonda in her painting studio. Rhonda has since moved on to work in a studio closer to home, but she continues to commission me to photograph and document her eye-catching works, which combine painting and textiles, both hard-edged and shadowy.

Rhonda writes about her work: “While studying for my master’s degree at Sydney College of the Arts, my media of choice evolved to photography and textile work. However, I feel my work still suggests a painter’s sensibility in many ways and has influenced me in working with oils yet again after a long break. Recent textile pieces range from tight, abstract and amorphic shapes with linen, to more fluid, evocative manipulations – like catching sight of something but not quite seeing or understanding it (much like the process of remembering).”

See more of Rhonda’s work at www.rhondapryor.com

“Not So Long As the Night” – Emily Jacir exhibits in Turin

My portrait of Emily Jacir, taken in one of her favorite streets in Rome, 2016

My friend, the Palestinian artist, Emily Jacir has a solo show at her Turin gallery, Galleria Peola Simondi, Italy (until 14 October, 2021). The photo based works, film and texts are her response to the ongoing conflict between the Israeli state and the Palestinian people in and around her ancestral home and artist’s studio in Bethlehem. Jacir’s house is 200 metres from the “Apartheid Wall”, the imposing security barrier which was supposedly designed to protect the Jewish Israeli population but instead serves to isolate and and antagonise Palestinian communities. As Jacir states in the text by Francesca Comisso, “the wall does not separate us from Israel, it separates us from ourselves”.

Emily photographed in Rome, 2016

I have photographed Emily several times over the years and one of these images was used by La Repubblica newspaper in the review of her current show at Galleria Peola Simondi.

“Fire-Ground” – new sculpture by Margarita Sampson

“This work comes from walking through the fire ground after the 2019-20 fires in the Blue Mountains….the textures, the still glowing logs, the xanthorrhoea stumps, the profound and shocking stillness,” says artist Margarita Sampson.

It is great to photograph Margarita’s work and spend a couple of hours with her magnificent and unusual creations. I wonder what’s next….?

See more of Margarita’s work at: Click here

MMXX – Matthew Mitcham Annual Portrait

MMXX

Pigment inkjet on cotton rag, 112cm x 78cm, Edition of 9, (2AP)


Since 2008, every year I have taken an “official” annual portrait photograph of Matthew Mitcham, Australia’s gold-medal Olympic diver, award-winning cabaret performer and television entertainer, in my studio in Sydney.

Facing the camera with a direct, unflinching manner, each consecutive portrait is added to the growing series of similar portraits, which commenced when Matthew was only 20 years old, before his rise to Olympic fame.

Each portrait is taken under similar conditions, plotting the changes in his physical appearance and growing self-assurance. This particular 2020 portrait marks a bumpy year for all of us, facing the pandemic. It is only fitting Matthew is masked and “Covid-safe” for this one. MMXX marks the 13th portrait and the 13th year in this ongoing series.

I thank Matt for his support in continuing this series, in allowing a very public view of his “personal time-line”. Matt married Luke just over a year ago in Belgium I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to photograph their wedding (see blog post: Matthew Mitcham Marries). They spent a good part of 2020 here in Australia but only a few days ago Matt and Luke have left our shores for the UK.

The complete sequence can be seen at :

https://www.johnmcrae.com/exhibition-work/annual-matthew-mitcham-portraits/ 

The series is printed by the artist in an edition of 9, with 2 artist proofs, and is available for purchase.

Contact John McRae mb: 0419619161 e: john@johnmcrae.com

The First Supper – dinner with friends after lockdown

The First Supper, 2020 ©johnmcrae

It’s uplifting to see how clever businesses are able to find fresh ways to survive in the current climate, and to reward their loyal customers.

Le Coq, a well-loved restaurant in Darling Road not far from my studio in Rozelle, boasts a menu focussed on traditional French poultry dishes. Together with David Poirier, the owner of Le Coq, I recently set up a photo-shoot as a way to celebrate their regular clients at a time when business is beginning to return to normal. Inspired by Leonardo’s Last Supper, I created a series of iconic portraits of various local people from Rozelle and Balmain seated at a long dining table. The new series is called The First Supper. These culinary portraits will soon be hanging on the walls of Le Coq.

The Sydney Morning Herald published a short story in its Short black good food guide on June 20, 2020.

Works by John McRae as part of the project: The Mother in Art by art.es magazine in Spain

John McRae’s work is featured as part of “The figure of the mother in art: an embematic representation of love” by Pepe Alvarez and Fernando Galan, published in art.es in December 2018 (pages 59-64). It is part of the special issue of the Spanish art magazine dedicated to the theme of the mother. The article discusses the broader concept of maternity in Michelangelo’s “Pietà”, the female viewpoint as presented by the contemporary artists Nathalie Djurberg, Leiko Ikemura, Francesca Marti’, Isabel Munoz, Yoko Ono and Cindy Sherman, and the work of James McNeill Whistler, John McRae, Roman Ondak and Tatsumi Orimoto. John McRae is represented by Lois (2006), a portrait of his dead mother. This work was chosen as a finalist in the 2006 Olive Cotton Award for Photographic Portraiture at the Tweed Regional Gallery in Murwillumbah, Australia.

 As the art.esarticle states, “The figure of the mother, and maternity as a concept, have played an important role in the historical development of mankind as reflected in its cultural manifestations. The cult of the mother is as old as humanity … a link to the earth, making the mother the only real and tangible point of reference.”

The Museum of Love and Protest, Sydney

The Museum of Love & Protest was an inter-active exhibition at the National Art School (NAS) in Sydney in February/March, looking back across four decades of the history of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. It featured original costumes, photographs, iconic posters, rarely-seen video footage, story-telling, music and artefacts. This large scale group show celebrated love, protest, diversity, humour, pride and creativity.

The exhibition included my photographs commissioned by Mardi Gras for the 2012 and 2013 official Mardi Gras posters (MARDIGRASLAND and GENERATIONS OF LOVE), and also my grinning portrait of cheesey performer Bob Downe, attached to one of his infamous cabaret safari-suit costumes.

Spot the Arab – Exhibition summary, Ballarat

Spot the Arab opened at Backspace Gallery, Ballarat on March 1, 2018 (see images below) through March 18.

Local artists, photographers, arts administrators, friends and family of the artist, journalists, and the general public from Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Melbourne and beyond were in attendance for the opening of “Spot the Arab” on the walls of this art space (housed in a heritage-protected, former police station), funded and supported by the City of Ballarat. 

Deborah Klein (Arts and Culture Co-ordinator), Cash Brown (Curator and Conservator at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka) and Jonathan Turner (exhibition co-curator, Rome), opened the exhibition.

In particular, the “Selfie Stand” was a huge success. This is a portable photo-booth which has been set up, where visitors to my exhibition can use their mobile phones to take a self-portrait wearing Arab head dress or costume provided, standing in front of desert landscape backdrops I photographed in Israel and Palestine.


Visitor summary – Spot the Arab, Ballarat

An estimated 3,000 people visited the exhibition inside the Backspace Gallery. Many more people saw the exterior images pasted on the Backspace building and in the square (20,000 people passed by the gallery building on the Saturday of the White Night Festival)

SOCIAL MEDIA SUMMARY

A total of 20,000 people were reached through Facebook, Instagram and twitter.

3,507 people visited the separate Spot the Arab page on Facebook

John McRae’s personal photography page was visited by a further 3,393 people

6,585 people saw Spot the Arab posts via  twitter 

5,750 people saw Spot the Arab posts via Instagram (with 965 likes)

There were a further 1,000 likes via other media, and 125 direct comments

The Selfie Stand

From at least 400 people who dressed in the Arab costumes provided and took selfies at the exhibition, 33 people posted their portraits on social media.