Last weekend, we left the city to visit Home of the Arts (HOTA) on the Gold Coast. We also met capybaras at Currumbin Sanctuary – a very worthwhile experience. This was my third time visiting HOTA and I have to say it is an exceptional regional gallery and I feel very fortunate to live a short drive away. Short by the standards of driving anywhere in Australia. We wanted to see the new Pop Masters exhibition and one titled Lost in Palm Springs. I am a massive mid-century fan, so I was very excited to see the latter. I’m going to briefly cover both exhibitions starting with Pop Masters.Read more: Home of the Arts (HOTA): Pop Masters
The full title for this exhibition is Pop Masters: Art from the Mugrabi Collection New York. All of the works on display have come from one individual’s private collection. The introductory panel sets the scene well. It states that, when we hear ‘pop art’, we usually think of Andy Warhol. While he is represented in this exhibition, there are an additional fifteen artists on display. It challenged my perception of what pop art is and exposed me to new artists I had never heard of before.
I want to share a couple of highlight works but I will say a few overall comments. Firstly, I felt there was a lot of thought behind the layout. A lot of open space with virtually no bottlenecks or crowded areas. Even though the exhibition was super busy, we never felt overwhelmed. There is also plenty of seating! I do comment on space often because, to me, that is what makes or breaks a good exhibition experience. If I am battling a large crowd just to walk through the space let alone read any of the labels, I am going to get exhausted.
Each of the main artists has a large feature wall with their name and a quote. In total, there are three: Warhol, Haring, and Basquiat. These walls thematically divide the rooms and help to situate the other artists on display. The entire exhibition has a nice flow to it and each theme both adds to the broader exhibition, but can be viewed as its own pocket in the space.
1. Damien Hirst: When They Were Down They Were Down (2007)
This was, by far, my favourite work in the entire exhibition. It has been included as the work speaks to mass production, a typical theme of pop art. As you can see, there are hundreds of little pills on shelves with a mirrored surface behind them. You could spend hours looking at all the pills and their unique shapes/colours/etc. When we were in the space, this was, by far, the work that generated the most discussion.
2. Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol – Untitled (1984-1985)
My second favourite work was the following.
When Basquiat was 7 years old, he was hit by a car and spent months in hospital. During this time, his mother gave him a copy of Gray’s Anatomy to read. This was one of the inspirations for his work and you can definitely see that influence in this painting. This section of the exhibition had some amazing works relating to race, racism, and identity. These three artists combined proved how there is a much deeper layer to pop art than first meets the eye.
Lost in Palm Springs
The second exhibition we visited was Lost in Palm Springs. A must-see if you are a fan of mid-century modern. The exhibition showcases work by fourteen artists who have responded to an element of Palm Springs. Similar to Pop Masters, I really appreciated the layout of this exhibition. Nice and spacious with plenty of wiggle room around the works. Here are my two favourite works from this exhibition.
1. Troy Kudlac: Floor Plans and Photographs (2020)
The photographs and floor plans represent the work of Kudlac who is trying to re-imagine mid-century modern homes in Palm Springs. I particularly like how the floor plans are displayed as if they were on an architect’s table. They provide more insight into the work and give a sense of how these homes are being built.
2. Sam Cranstoun: Retro Modern 1, 2 and 3 (2015-2021)
Cranstoun’s interest in breeze blocks is most definitely represented through these three works. Inspired by the blocks at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Cranstoun found similar breeze block patterns around the Gold Coast. These sculptures capture both his interest in breeze blocks and link his work to Bauhaus industrial techniques.
I left the exhibition desperately wanting to get on the next plane to visit Palm Springs!
Pop Masters is on display until 4 June 2023. There is an additional ticket cost to see this exhibition. It is fully accessible.
Lost in Palm Springs is free to visit and is on display until 21 May 2023. It is also accessible.
Before you leave, I strongly recommend visiting the gift shop. I purchased some very cute little bits and pieces and there are free Lost in Palm Springs exhibition catalogues! Both exhibitions are well worth seeing!