Review of the exhibition: Salon des Refusés 2021


The Salon des Refusés has been part of the excitement surrounding the annual Archibald and Wynne Awards since 1992. The works in the Salon are chosen by a jury from among the thousands of nominations received each year by the Art Gallery of NSW for the Archibald Prize for Portrait and the Wynne Prize for Landscape Painting. The works are selected for their quality, diversity, humor and experimentation, and their examination of contemporary artistic practices, different approaches to portraiture and responses to the landscape. This year’s panel consisted of Max Germanos, curator of 3:33 Art Projects; Katherine Roberts, senior curator at the Manly Art Gallery and Museum in Sydney; and Jane Watters, director of the SH Ervin Gallery.

Read: Exhibition report: Tarnanthi

Traditionally, the Salon is on display at the SH Ervin Gallery, run by the National Trust and perched in Sydney’s The Rocks district. It was supposed to be this year, but life stepped in and the Sydney Salon was closed after only three weeks. This is how an agreement was reached with the David Roche Foundation to bring 47 of the 57 selected works to be exhibited in Adelaide.

The David Roche Foundation House Museum offers an impressive gallery space in the heart of North Adelaide with its high ceilings, tall chandeliers and a wonderfully calm atmosphere. The works look dramatic set in a thoughtful hanging on the dark gallery walls.

Collectively, they form a colorful and enjoyable exhibit and feature a range of styles, subjects, sizes and techniques. But the totality of the exposure is clearly greater than the sum of its parts; individually, the works are surprisingly dull. Considering the prestige of the Archibald and the Wynne, and the large number of entries (938 for the Archies and 660 for the Wynne this year), one has to wonder if they are really the best of the others? This may still be the case with group exhibitions chosen by a panel, and I know there is nothing the art world appreciates more than a good look at Archibald’s selections. , but it really is a rather disappointing reflection on the state of the visual art in Australia. Overall, it’s fair to say that these works are safe and familiar and not daring or experimental.

One or two pieces stand out in the exhibition. The large format portrait of Craig Ruddy I am Gulpilil continues its exuberant style and makes a bold centerpiece as you step into the exhibit. The long evening, a self-portrait by Liz Stute, has a nice carefree attitude to both subject and style. Michael Bell’s Messy Self-Portrait Studio in rue de l’Église is refreshingly straightforward and highlights the artist’s chaotic inner and outer worlds. And the curious painting of Harley Manifold Gareth, showing Warrnambool artist Gareth Colliton in the bath, is expertly rendered.

The great and brilliant work of Tania Wursig Chakita, a confident portrayal of Sydney’s artistic powerhouse couple Nikita Majajas and Charlie Villas with their beloved bulldog Mrs. Peaches, won the Holding Redlich People’s Choice Award. Voting for the prize, valued at $ 3,000, took place online this year for the first time.

Among the landscapes, Jasper Knight’s The missing, a large blue canvas of skyscrapers and palm trees, is striking in its confident style and Jennifer Keeler-Milne shows a wonderful way with nature in the meditative Spring acacia lll.

The Refusals Fair 2021 well worth the ticket price to spend time in this beautiful gallery space meditating on the state of Australian art. And most of the works are for sale, with prices ranging from just $ 800 for a small oil on board by artist Elizabeth Nelson by Mark Dober to $ 42,000 for the Craig Ruddy, you can even take home a piece. with prestigious provenance if something catches your eye.

Refusals Fair 2021
The David Roche Foundation, Melbourne Street, North Adelaide
Tickets: $ 10 to $ 12

Refusals Fair 2021 is on display until December 11, 2021


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