Sunday, July 17, 2011

Australia's George Gittoes, WAR ARTIST

We are all war artists up until the vernissage of WAR at Patrick John Mills Gallery.

From an article which appeared in the Times Magazine, Feb. 15/2007.

In the art world, definitions can be crucial. And for much of his near-40-year career, George Gittoes has been tagged a war artist, a definition which is both true and false. While the 57-year-old Australian has covered many of the world's hot-button conflicts since Vietnam, he hasn't always been invited, and unlike most official war artists, he hasn't confined his medium to paint and pencil. Famously, he was one of the few to witness the Kibeho massacre in Rwanda, camera in hand, and more recently Gittoes has turned to music video and anime to capture the emotions he feels. "I hate war," he says. "I'm married, have a lovely wife and two kids, and I'm someone who loves classical music, poetry and literature ... If humanity's going to go on doing war, then there has to be evidence somewhere that someone felt something."

But in a world increasingly immune to the horrors of war, how to engage audiences without turning them off? With Soundtrack and its 2006 sequel, Rampage, which follows a rapping Marine home to Miami and the hip-hop studios of New York City, Gittoes cracked the creative jackpot, with films that could just as easily play on VH1 as in the current documentary-obsessed contemporary art world. (Three years on, curators can't get enough of Soundtrack, which, from March 9, screens as part of the third Auckland Triennial, called "Turbulence.") Gittoes' use of popular culture to explore the Iraq war "is a really amazing way in," says Russell Storer of Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art. "And I think that tells us so much more than the news about what's actually going on and how people feel."

These films are also giving new audiences access to the wider world of this maverick. The loudest soundtrack to Gittoes' current life is provided by the white cockatoos outside his coastal studio at Bundeena, in a national park just south of Sydney. Here his drawing desk—part of an old cabinet propped up on bricks—seems as improvised as his career. The son of an administrator and a ceramicist, Gittoes dropped out of law studies and, inspired by the visiting modernist art critic Clement Greenberg, traveled to New York in 1968. He studied with the social-realist painter Joe Delaney, and on returning to Sydney the following year, sought to put Delaney's civic-minded ideals to work in the Yellow House, the now legendary artist-run space Gittoes helped establish in 1970 with Martin Sharp. He would leave after two years, but the Yellow House set the scene for his art. Using any medium at his disposal, and world events as his palette, Gittoes' work speaks of the cosmic interconnectedness of things.

Please read entire article here: 

Read more about George Gittoes, watch his movies, see his art here:

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