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GOMA's summer of frivolous art

  • 13 December 2016


An atheist friend of mine says art galleries are modern-day temples. We go to them to escape the rush of city life — road rage, endless emails, machines that talk to us in supermarkets: 'There's an unexpected item in the bagging area.'

We enter these cool quiet buildings with their white tiles and high ceilings and our troubles fade; we have something to contemplate. This year I've had the good fortune to visit all the major art galleries in Australia, some of which are designed to look like ancient Greek temples from the outside.

Like a church or temple, they're free and open to the public. The paintings don't talk at you, not yet, anyway. There's space to think, to breathe, to feel.

In the National Gallery of Victoria, you can walk through a history of Australian Art. In the basement of the Art Gallery of NSW Aboriginal art looks back at you from every wall. In the Art Gallery of South Australia you find the disturbing and very modern exhibit of two real headless horses intertwined, not far from a Pissarro.

In the exhibition that just opened on 3 December at Queensland's Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), fun and frivolity awaits.

GOMA is celebrating ten years and among the exhibits there are two cylindrical metal slides that look strikingly similar to the ones a few hundred metres down at the playground in South Bank. I first saw slides by the same artist at the TATE Modern in London 15 years ago. I slid down in a sack from one floor to the next and it was fun. But was it art?

Other exhibits currently at GOMA include the 'Pip and Pop Rainbow Bridge', where you look through windows into miniature fairy-like lands — all flossy pink and purple. My five year old loved them. There's also a giant fuzzy multi-coloured thing covering the walls and stretching out into the corridor so that you walk through an arch of rainbow fuzz. I'm struggling to find words, which is good because that's what art does: it represents what we cannot put down in writing.

Or does some art represent what's not worth saying at all?


"I'm feeling critical of all of this frivolity because it's so incongruous to my mood, which has been soured by the US election and our own re-election of Pauline Hanson."


Upstairs a seal balances a piano on its nose. It's all pleasing to the eye. The