Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tolarno Gallery

Yesterday I broadened my gallery viewing to Tolarno, on Flinders lane.

Jason recommended that I go and look at Tolarno as an example of "a serious commerical gallery which is going to get critical reviews serious, art collectors and stable established artists".

Most of the galleries I've visited so far have been those that I knew of, or had been meaning to go to. Visiting Tolarno was widening my net into the area of 'the serious art gallery'. Serious it was.

I wandered up to the 4th floor, wandered through the alarmed glass doors, and there I was. All by myself.

Artist Andrew Browne was on exhibition. His large format paintings of tree branches, taken from flash photographs, were spectacular ... I guess at $30,000 a pop they'd want to be.

I take a quick look around, realising that I am out of my depth here. Wandering back, tail between my legs through those alarmed doors, I realise that Tolarno's is not the end of the art spectrum that I belong.

It's not that I don't appreciate the art. I do. I really enjoyed going there. It's just that I simply don't know know enough about high-end commercial art galleries to think that I could just open one up.

I also believe in art that is accessible to everyone. I think that art - good art - should be available to all of us. People should be able to identify something they like, be in a position to buy it, and display it proudly on their walls.

So if I am going to get into this art business, I'm not going to be competing directly with the likes of Tolarno. But thanks for the tip, Jason.


The Painted Sky said...

I find it rather ironic that "Jason" sent you on an errand to see a "highfalutin" gallery by the name of Tolarno.
Tolarno started out as the Mirka Cafe which hosted exhibitions, then in 1958 it moved and became Balzac restaurant ( more art ) ...and then in 1965 it became Tolarno hotel ( hotel, restaurant & gallery ). The famous Ned Kelly series by Sidney Nolan were shown there.......eventually Tolarno opened in South Yarra...and then in Fitzroy and finally at Flinders Lane.

My point, being a simple one....Tolarno "high-end commercial art gallery" started it's life as a cafe.

Ben Rowe said...

Really? Thanks Jim I had no idea

Jason said...

So what if Tolarno started out as a cafe gallery? Australia started out as a penal colony, but now its a first world country. Just as Tolarno is at the forefront of commercial galleries in Australia, since Jan Minchin took over 10 yrs ago. Mirka Mora (god bless her) is still painting murals in cafes.

I gave Tolarno as an example because it wasn't a current sucessful gallery started by rich Australian housewife who had all the backing to begin with (Anna, Sherman, etc). You missed my point. I didn't say that you jump and open a huge gallery representing big name artists with sell out shows before the opening night, its impossible anyway. But if you want to become a gallery like that in 10 yrs time .. you got to start on the right footing. Take Darren Knight who started out his gallery in a small but decent space in Melbourne, choose the right artists, had great shows, stuck in there and made a name for himself and decided to move to bigger lights (money wise) in Sydney.

If you're wanting an asignment (errand), go take a lok at Albert Street in Richmond. There are 6 galleries on the street now, from emerging art to aboriginal to mid career artists and secondary market stuff. But look at each gallery and the art they present and their websites maybe, and make a guess of the 6 ... which one is the crap gallery.

Good Luck

Ben Rowe said...

Thanks Jason,

I will go and take a look at the galleries on Albert St.

I wasn't being critical of you at all. I need to go out and see all sorts of galleries so that I can make a decision about what sort of gallery I'd open, or whether I think I could open one at all.

Really appreciate your feedback. Thanks for reading.

Liss said...

I'm learning so much from this blog. Thanks Ben.
Please start a gallery that I wouldn't feel intimidated by :-)

The Painted Sky said...

Jason, I pointed out the irony of Tolarno originating as a cafe to show that influential/great galleries need not take the path of being set up as serious "high art" galleries.

Any understanding of art history will teach you that "new" art often doesn't come from established pathways. Hip galleries like Darren Knight & Kaliman in Sydney are examples of "the establishment" within the Aussie artworld. That is to say, they fit in and are acceptable "contemporary art spaces".

What art history teaches us is when we all start to accept that contemporary art & art galleries are a certain way....they become the "new establishment" and "New art" will invariably originate from sources quite different to what set the previous ones up.

So, whilst we are all running around looking, talking and breathing contemporary art in the fashionable, established & elite galleries...the real "new art" is being made around us and the artworld which has invested in the establishment is oblivious to it.

A simple question.....Which art gallery in Melbourne will end up being the most influential for the next generation of new artists?

The answer is Outre Gallery !

The Painted Sky said...

Reason why Outre Gallery will be seen in the future as a highly influential gallery to a new generation of artists.....

Firstly, I might explain that my own art is in no way part of this group and doesn't fit in with anything Outre is doing. I am just pointing out what is ovbious to me.

Outre gallery ( Melb & Sydney ) is bringing to Australia many of the new generation of "Lowbrow, Pop Surrealists" for want of a better description. This marginalised ( outsider ) art in the last decade has moved out of obscurity in the USA and into the artworld mainstream. Opening up major galleries in "hot" places like Chelsea in New York and Culver City in LA. Their exhibitions sellout to contemporary collectors ( in the know ) , they get mainstream reviews and even advertise in all the major worlwide art mags. They also have their "own mag" Juxtapoz promoting this loose movement.

Outre not only is the first place to show and support "Lowbrow, Pop Surrealists" but is mixes it with many subcultures....the subcultures that inform "Lowbrow, Pop Surrealists" ie Graffiti art, tattoo art, street art, Japanese Anime, Pop culture, Art toys, car culture etc etc

Furthermore Outre brings in a vast array of books/mags that will influence the next generation of artists. Most people will be surprised by how many artists get influenced by the stuff Outre brings in.

Meanwhile, the artworld is blissfully unaware of what's going on. They know of Takeshi Murakami ...but that stuff is happening far away ??

Outre was the only place in OZ to have a solo show of Mark Ryden's paintings ( or any of his work ) ...his last show in LA sold out in 8 minutes and the large work went for a Million US bucks.

Tolarno is an important gallery in Australia, but it's real influence is wanna see the future...Go to Outre!

The Painted Sky said...

PS...I don't work for Outre, nor do I have shares in the business...... lol

But if they read this....can I get a 10% discount on the next books I buy there?..... lol

Jason said...

Jim: sorry to say this but ... Mark Ryden's work .. sucks!! .. regardless of whether hippie LA-er bought out his whole show in 8 seconds ... lol .. not that i liked Andrew Browne's work either even though he sold out the show .. he's been doing it for so long .. its become SO boring.

and Outre Gallery ? You gotta be kidding me .. 'don't touch that hole with a 10 ft pole'

The Painted Sky said...

Jason, you are in much need of a paradigm shift ;)

Outre Gallery will probably be the most influential gallery in Melbourne....when people look back in a couple of decades.

That is not to say that the art shown there is the best and nobody can see it as such. But, as a source of information that'll influence the widest range of artists......that it definitely will be.

I'm sure the likes of David Wadelton, who shows at Tolarno has been into Outre and bought at least one book, toy, magazine ?

Don't confuse the "lowbrow art" there as being is permeating the artworld, advertising, fashion is becoming use the much touted word favoured by Gary Baseman.

Jason, if not Outre, then name a gallery that will have a greater influence in the future?

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting!
Thank You!