Gail Hastings and Adrian McDonald awarded 2018 Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize
The 2018 Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize was today awarded to Melbourne-based artist Gail Hastings and Sydney-based emerging artist Adrian McDonald. Celebrating its 22nd year, the Prize is among Australia’s best-known art awards, spanning all mediums and offering a total of $36,000 in prize money. Hastings was awarded the established artist category ($25,000) for colour circle: four colour scheme for a room (2018) and McDonald was awarded the emerging artist category ($10,000) for Approximating a Circle (2018). The Viewer’s Choice Award of $1,000 is to be announced in May at the end of the exhibition.
The judges for this year’s Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize – Natasha Bullock (MCA Senior Curator), Judith Blackall (NAS Gallery Curator), Mark Harpley (Visual Arts Coordinator, Redlands School) and Fabian Byrne (Visual Arts Teacher, Redlands School) – announced the award at the opening of the exhibition of finalist works presented at the National Art School Gallery in Sydney. The judges remarked that this year’s Prize offered a very strong field of artwork in both the established and emerging artist categories, making it particularly difficult to select an outright winner.
Natasha Bullock said: “Gail Hastings’ work is playful and inventive, and distinguished by its aesthetic rigour. It is an exquisitely-made object, which questions the definition of minimalism, and the movement of everyday space.”
Mark Harpley, Head of Visual Arts at Redlands School, added: “Gail Hastings’ colour circle: four colour scheme for a room (2018) will be an important addition to the Redlands Collection. Hasting’s assiduous engagement and comprehensive investigations with art practice are reflected in this five-part work. For teaching and learning, the work has an immediate reference to the colour wheel, a tool used by all art students. It allows them to undertake their own investigations into Hastings’ interpretation of space and the stories in a broader context.”
Gail Hastings has been working and exhibiting since 1989. Her rigorous and deeply-committed practice is informed by a complex spatial investigation from the 1960s that the artist and others believe has been miscalled ‘minimalism’. Her works, which she describes as ‘sculptural situations’, or ‘sculptuations’, call our attention to a real space made active through its co-extension with an aesthetic space of objects and form, with colour and text that engage the viewers’ imagination. Her ‘sculptuations’ are like ‘passages’ of thought that meander through rooms with walls, where we find ‘ourselves’ physically wandering, while wondering. The viewer’s ‘engagement’ becomes an unfolding plot that turns back on itself: her work is poetic, witty and always visually accomplished.
In the Emerging Artist category, the judges remarked they had considerable difficulty reaching a decision: “This year there is an exciting range of outstanding works by early-career artists – ambitious and thought-provoking installations, conceptual, socially and politically conscious, formally and materially sophisticated.”
Adrian McDonald was awarded the emerging artist prize for his compelling and pared-back painting, Approximating a Circle (2018). McDonald is a Sydney-based artist who has been exhibiting since 2003, a painter whose work may be characterised as a mode of philosophical reflection, inspired by the formal language of music. Appearing as a series of fine, raised lines on a raw linen surface, McDonald’s painting explores unseen spaces and speaks of the pauses, silences and purity of harmony, conveyed in the gaps between the lines on the canvas. The artist sees his painting as an ongoing exploration of complex relationships between beauty, truth and freedom as they relate to the historical origins of both abstract and concrete art.
Fabian Byrne, Visual Art Teacher at Redlands School, commented: “What at first seem like regular stripes, reveal themselves as a pulsating dot-dash of rhythmic code, racing up and down the surface of the work. There is meticulous discipline evident in the immaculate material finish and exceptional accuracy of the work’s intricate visual construction. It is a painting, but not as we have known painting previously. There are no brush strokes, there is no picture, no image. Rather, the reference is to data and mathematics and the punched holes of a pianola roll. Indeed, music is a good reference as it is the rests and spaces between musical notes and percussive beats that allow us to hear melody and to sense rhythm. This work displays McDonald’s deep engagement with post-objective image making and he is clearly becoming a master of his craft.”
Judith Blackall added: “The judges also commend those artists who have shown great commitment in their presentation with courageous and challenging works. They include a number of accomplished, high-quality site-specific installations that convey considerable dedication in their realisation.’’
The judges felt this is a good winning duo as both artists deliver an intellectual rigour in their respective approaches to painting and its extended forms, subject matter, technique and media.
Celebrating its 22nd anniversary, the annual exhibition and acquisitive art award highlights exciting developments in contemporary art and provides a platform for an artist-selected exhibition that features established artists alongside early-career artists. The exhibition’s guest curator, highly respected Australian artist Nike Savvas made the selection in line with the Prize’s model, which sees the curator nominate established artists, who in turn each choose one emerging artist to create work for the exhibition.
Guest curator Nike Savvas commented on her selection of established artists: “I have selected artists whose practices evidence discriminating, uncompromising and highly individualist approaches to art making. In a cultural climate beset by hype, hits, corporatisation and swinging social agency, … this exhibition titled Extreme Prejudice seeks to highlight the personal and critical imperatives that belie and drive such single-minded work.”
Participating artists have no limitations on their choice of media or subject matter and can submit a single recent work to contend for one of two prizes. The main award for established artists is the Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize, valued at $25,000 and sponsored by Konica Minolta. The Emerging Artist Prize is valued at $10,000 and sponsored by Croll Real Estate. Most works are available for purchase with the exception of the winning works that are acquired into the permanent art collection of Redlands School, in accordance with the tradition of the Prize.
All works are on display at Sydney’s National Art School Gallery from 15 March until 12 May 2018.
Gail Hastings colour circle: four colour scheme for a room (2018)
lead pencil and acrylic polymer on wood 120 x 240 x 3 cm
Adrian McDonald Approximating a Circle (2018) Flashe vinyl paint on linen, 182 x 182 cm
Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize 2017, installation view, image courtesy NAS Gallery, photo: Peter Morgan