Exposition Art Blog: February 2021

Thancoupie - Australian Art


 Dr Thancoupie Gloria Fletcher James  (1937-2011) was an Australian sculptural artist, educator, linguist and elder of the Thainakuith people in Weipa, in the Western Cape York area of far north Queensland. She was the last fluent speaker of the Thainakuith language and became a pillar of cultural knowledge in her community. She was also known as Thankupi, Thancoupie and Thanakupi.
"Thanakupi as she was best known, was born in the small mission town of Napranum, near Weipa where she experienced a traditional childhood of hunting and travelling with her family in time with the seasons. As part of her upbringing, her female elders taught her traditional stories and symbols that they drew in the sand. It was these symbols and stories that Thancoupie would later modify for her work in textiles and clay.
In 1971, Thancoupie travelled to Sydney to enrol in a graphic arts course at East Sydney Technical College. Here, after overcoming initial qualms associated with the sacred nature of clay in her homeland, she began her training under the guidance of Peter Rushforth, Bernard Sahm, Shiga Shigeo, Joan Grounds and Peter Travis. She became the first Indigenous person to study ceramics at a tertiary level.Thancoupie held her first solo exhibition in the backyard of her friend, Jennifer Isaacs, and through this received an invitation in 1983 to attend an international ceramics conference in Mexico. In 2001, eighty works spanning her entire career were presented in a survey exhibition at the Brisbane City Gallery and she is represented in the collections of the Powerhouse Museum, the National Gallery of Australia as well as State art galleries and museums in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria.In addition to continuing her art practice, Thancoupie spent much of the last 30 years mentoring aspiring artists from communities in Far North Queensland, Arnhemland, the Desert and the Tiwi Islands as well as holding art and professional development courses for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Thancoupie helped to found the Weipa Festival on Cape York and ran holiday programs to teach bush knowledge and art to younger generations. As a community elder Thancoupie educated Indigenous children in their traditional culture and ran art education programs during school holidays.
As recently noted by Adrian Newstead, Thancoupie’s creative and philosophical motivation is best expressed in her own words.
You are here in a lifetime to help, to understand… that is intelligence. And only intelligent people have strong friendships. I wish we all have that."(maas.museum)


Jackie Saccoccio - Action Painting


  Jackie Saccoccio (1963 – 2020) was an American abstract painter. Her works, considered examples of gestural abstraction, featured bright color, large canvases, and deliberately introduced randomness.
Saccoccio's works have been displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. She received the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) Artadia award in 2015 and was also awarded grants from the Fulbright–Hays Program (1990), John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2000), and the American Academy in Rome.
Starting in the 1990s, Saccoccio was known for her vivid and evocative works of gestural abstraction, building on the work of artists like Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell.Her works, inspired by abstract expressionism and Italian Baroque art, were part of a movement which emphasized adding vitality to abstract painting through experimentation with randomness and paint handling. Jerry Saltz, reviewing a 2007 show in The Village Voice, noted Saccoccio's influences: "Saccoccio's paintings come dangerously close to looking like mid-century abstraction, particularly the work of artists like Joan Mitchell and de Kooning. Yet if you spend time in this show, the old-school quotient subsides and sparks begin to fly."
Saccoccio worked with large canvases on which she outlaid "expansive waves and splashes of bright, luminous color", creating fragmented visual spaces.She introduced randomness in her works by pouring and splattering paint while tilting the canvas in different directions. She also transferred paint between canvases, pulled them across, and scraped through dry paint pigments to add onto the randomness.In what has been described as an intensely physical process, she would sometimes press together two large and wet canvases, apply mica for an additional layer of sheen, and at times have as many as 50 layers of paint on her canvas.These actions, and the added bright colors, introduced an additional element of spontaneity to her works.The outcome was highly layered,vibrantly colored, drip-networked,and had large shifting fields of color.Wikipedia


Sorel Etrog - Sculpture


 "Sorel Etrog was born in 1933 in Jassy, Romania and began his artistic schooling in 1945, and then in 1950 at the Tel-Aviv School of Fine Arts following his family’s emigration. In 1958, he assembled a solo exhibition and was granted a scholarship to study at the Brooklyn Museum Art Institution. A year lated, Toronto collector Samuel J. Zacks led him to discovery the city in which he would briefly live. For four years, Sorel Etrog went back and forth to and from his New York studio before finally settling down there in 1963.
He represented Canada at the Venise Biennale in 1966. His pieces were created both for the private and public sectors: Montreal’s Expo 67, the Sn Life Centre, the Los Angeles County Museum and the Olympic Parc in Seoul, Korea. This internationally-renowned artist has his work showcased around the globe. Sorel Etrog was accepted into the Order of Canada in 1994 and was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1996.
Though bronze was Sorel Etrog’s favorite material to use, he also worked with others, including a few marble sculptures. The size of his pieces vary from small to monumental. In the last few years, the artist incorporated laminated metal sheets in his bank of materials.
Etrog was also interested in drawing (graphite, pastel and charcoal) and watercolors for both preliminary sketches and as a separate medium. As with his sculptures, the drawings explore both mechanics and biology in a harmonic way: mechanistic bodies, wrench-shaped hands, pure machines, blends, labyrinths and monsters. Like other artists form his generation, Etrog was influenced by the primitive arts and contemporary machinery. He uses them both for an infinite array of combinations."(artpublicmontreal.ca)