Cartoons for Joseph Selleny, 2012-14/2017/2018

12 cartoons, charcoal drawings perforated and pounced with cheesecloth bags full of ground charcoal; wall drawing created through pouncing with cheesecloth full of ground charcoal, 350 × 2400mm (in three parts 700 × 350mm, 1000 × 350mm, 700 × 350mm); off-set printed artist’s book to take away.

Exh.: Tom Nicholson: Drawings and correspondence, curated by Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh, 24 March–2 June 2018, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane.
 
 

Since the first iteration of this project was exhibited as a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, in 2014, three iterations of the wall drawing have been created. The most recent was as part of the exhibition surveying Nicholson’s drawing practice, Tom Nicholson: Drawings and correspondence, staged at the IMA in 2018 and curated by Johan Lundh and Aileen Burns. The wall drawing was articulated as one continuous wrap-around space over three walls, installed opposite a single line of cartoons, and configured in a larger sequence of three works – alongside Drawings and correspondence, and Gorge photograph, 13 September 1939 – as a triptych of related projects embroiling writing and drawing.
 
12 cartoons, charcoal drawings perforated and pounced with cheesecloth bags full of ground charcoal; wall drawing created through pouncing with cheesecloth full of ground charcoal, 350 × 2400mm (in three parts 700 × 350mm, 1000 × 350mm, 700 × 350mm); off-set printed artist’s book to take away.

Exh.: All that is solid…, TarraWarra International, curated by Victoria Lynn, Tarrawarra Museum of Art, Healesville, September-November 2017.

 

 
The penultimate iteration was staged as part of the Tarrawarra International in 2017, curated by Victoria Lynn, and articulating the entirety of Tarrawarra Museum of Art’s remarkable northern gallery, with the cartoons themselves occupying the narrow curved gallery running towards that northern gallery.
 
Wall drawing created through pouncing with cheesecloth full of ground charcoal, 1100 × 300 cm, off-set printed artist’s book to take away; type C photograph, 130 × 86.6cm, photography: Christian Capurro

Exh.: Allegory of the Cave Painting, curated by Mihnea Mircan, Extra City, Antwerp, 20 September — 7 December 2014

 

 
Cartoons for Joseph Selleny makes use of a Renaissance drawing technique. In preparing frescoes, large-scale preparatory drawings (known as “cartoons”) were perforated and then beaten with cheesecloth full of charcoal dust (also known as “pouncing”) to make the dotted outline of an image on to a wall that would then be painted as a fresco.

Nicholson’s project brings together two narratives: the narratives of the work’s own making, using these Renaissance techniques; and the narratives surrounding the remarkable visit to Sydney Harbour by an Austrian frigate, the Novara, in 1858, a ship built in Venice’s Arsenale (amidst the revolution of 1848, during which it was taken by Manin and his fellow revolutionaries at the very outset of the anti-imperial uprising), and sponsored by the Austrian Archduke Maximilian (later puppet Emperor of Mexico), patron of the Novara as well as patron and friend of the Novara’s official artist, Joseph Selleny.

In Nicholson’s work these two narratives — around the work’s own processes and evolution, and around the Novara and its stay on Sydney Harbour — pivot around the four versions of The Execution of Maximilian painted by the French artist Edouard Manet between 1867 and 1869. Nicholson has produced preparatory drawings for these four versions of Manet’s painting after the fact. These charcoal cartoons are perforated and pounced, partly un-making the drawings, and producing a vast abstracted wall drawing on to the wall of Extra City.

A take-away artist’s book consists of nine imaginary letters written by the artist. It weaves together the evolution of the project itself, and the history of the Novara, specifically around the Aboriginal objects which were taken from Sydney during Her stay and which Nicholson viewed in the Vienna Ethnographic Museum at the outset of the project.

Watch a conversation between Dale Harding and Tom Nicholson here.

 

 

The first iteration of this project was exhibited as a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, 22 May — 6 August 2014. Click here for images of this original iteration.

 

 


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