The Melbourne Art Fair has made it's presence known in bold yellow splatters all over trams, newspapers and bus stops leading up to the grandiose opening night. After much preparation and anticipation it opened in flamboyant style on Wednesday evening.
The garden paths of Carlton were obscured in the dimness of the night. As I tottered along in my special mary janes, only the glowing light of the Royal Exhibition Building shone like a cultural beacon. The building itself has been rooted proudly in Melbourne soil for over one hundred years and it is the most fitting place in the whole city to host the exclusive Vernissage of the 2012 Melbourne Art Fair.
The Melbourne Art Fair is considered Australia's premier Fair and remains a significant exposition of contemporary art from over 70 prominent galleries in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Germany. Showing from Thursday 2 August until the Sunday 5 August, it is a visual smorgasbord of delectable and delightful works.
As I entered what I consider to be one of the most breathtaking buildings in our city, I was instantly overwhelmed with choice. There were Project Rooms, featured artists and countless different galleries displaying works from different scopes, movements, perspectives, styles, mediums and genres. There were bold displays and stand out pieces partnered with so many less obvious, yet no less spectacular, pieces of art waiting to be discovered and cherished.
Around the building roamed well dressed men and women, who were just as varied as the works themselves. The one common link was a sense of sophistication, not a stifling type, but instead a sophisticated atmosphere painted with a distinct smirk. People glided along eating decadent yet scarcely displayed canapés and drinking wine that followed freely like an IV into their parched body systems.
Although an air of haughtiness occasionally lingered in the air, the overall atmosphere was incredibly warm. I engaged with benevolent appreciators, collectors and gallery workers. The conversation was simple as people spoke purely about art in a way that was devoid of any pompous perfumery. In fact one of the tour operators perfectly mirrored my inner feelings when he described the feeling of being bloated by art.
I had spent the entire evening greedily consuming wine, art and whatever tiny treat that I could source out like a vulture. I was in fact bloated with art, and unable to really digest any of it well. Sure some pieces jumped out to me, like the immensely stoic elephants of Geoffrey Ricardo, or the translucently inspiring women of Craig Ruddy or being lost in the grown up wonderland of Stuart Elliott. Countless other pieces called to me but there were so many I could not even begin to do them justice in verse.
And so I begged the guide for a possible solution to my over indulgence of choice. He explained that there was so very much that the only way to get any real pleasure was to focus on the work in small intervals. So I gulped down my wine, followed the direction where my faithful eyes had lead me and restrained my impulse to 'see it all'.
If you are heading to the Melbourne Art Fair this weekend, loosen your trousers and prepare to indulge in a visual feast so spectacular that you will be bloated for days.