Bal­larat’s ‘Ro­manc­ing the Skull’

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Art Gallery of Bal­larat’s ex­hi­bi­tion “Ro­manc­ing the Skull” is a cel­e­bra­tion of all things re­lated to the skull. It ex­am­ines its power as a sym­bol rep­re­sent­ing death, dan­ger, re­bel­lion, de­fi­ance and a ‘dev­il­may-care’ view of life it­self. While skulls and skele­tons take cen­tre stage, the ex­hi­bi­tion also takes side­ways glances at his­toric im­agery such as me­dieval Dances of Death, pi­rate flags, poi­son bot­tles and tat­too art. More than 20 prints by Mex­i­can artist José Guadalupe Posada (1852–1913), long as­so­ci­ated with the Day of the Dead, are on show to Aus­tralian au­di­ences for the first time. Other ex­hi­bi­tion high­lights in­clude a wood­cut print from the renowned Nurem­berg Chron­i­cle of 1493 de­pict­ing one of the ear­li­est “Danse Macabre” (Dance of Death) im­ages and Aus­tralian artist Shaun Glad­well’s Vir­tual Re­al­ity work “Or­bital Van­i­tas”, 2016, which de­buted at the Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val ear­lier this year. There are also works com­mis­sioned spe­cially for the ex­hi­bi­tion by Fiona Hall, Reko Ren­nie and Sally Smart and con­tem­po­rary Aus­tralian artists Sam Jinks, Rona Green and Ben Quilty.

Clare Toms, “Equi­lib­rium”, 2014, oil on can­vas. Cour­tesy of Metro Gallery. © Clare Toms.

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