Review: Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize 2018

A curated art prize that pricks mankind’s conscience and whets the appetite for art made now.
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Installation view of Extreme Prejudice: 2018 Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize at the National Art School; supplied

Ripping into society’s capitalist tendencies and the blind faith of organised religion, Extreme Prejudice is a terrific inter-disciplinary, group show. It is also the 2018 edition of the Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize, proving that art prizes can push beyond their stereotypes.

Covering two huge floors of the main gallery at the National Art School, Guest Curator Nike Savvas puts together a thoughtful selection of Australian artists. It is a large display that’s good to experience in more than one visit.

The premise of the Redlands Prize is that the curator – Savvas this year – selects a group of artists, who each in turn choose one emerging artist to take part. Savvas chose 19 artists for this year’s edition.

For art lovers, Nike Savvas needs no introduction. She is highly regarded by her peers and has gained an international reputation for her single-minded practice spanning three decades.  Her Redlands show, favours what she calls “artist’s artists”. Those she defines as “strong and resolute” and who “focus on studio outcomes over other concerns”.  

The result is a gallery full of intense push and pull. The clash between styles, eras, languages and mediums makes it very much like attending a party with intelligent people who have strong voices. It’s the kind of show that creates a conversation between the ears and leads you in a contemplative direction.

Sarah Goffman, Bark Paintings 2018 Marker and ink on bark (five elements); Courtesy of the artist and courtesy the National Art School Gallery. Photo: Robin Hearfield.

There’s a dark twitchy humour in Sarah Goffman’s Bark paintings 2018 (pictured above), where the bark is painted to look like Aussie dollar bills. There’s a poke at the wild cosmos in Tim Johnson’s five paneled painting that mixes up Buddhist iconography with alien crop circles, as well as pieces that are just so classic and exquisite you want to sell your home to buy them. Johnson has been Guest Curator of this exhibition in the past.

A favourite work comes from the up and coming artist Conor O’Shea. O’Shea’s exquisite Harness -1- 5 2018 is an erotic, tactile and provocative set of sculptures that works as one piece. They are each a different colour and made from paper, dipped in wax that has been fashioned together with staples.  The way his sculptures hang from the wall, shows a true talent for drama, contrast and drapery. This work just leaps off the gallery wall and provokes a deep curiosity.

Conor O’Shea, Harness 1-5, 2018, Wax, paper, staples (five elements); Courtesy of the artist and courtesy the National Art School Gallery. Photo: Robin Hearfield.

It sits next to a beautifully crafted Consuelo Cavaniglia Untitled (screen) 2018 which is deftly placed by a large double overhead window in the upstairs gallery.

Daytime viewing reveals the wonderful relationship between this work and the sunlight. When I first saw the work, there was a security guard sticking his head over the top of it and smiling at me so I thought it was a performance piece. Going back in the second viewing I had a very different experience, seeing it bathed in warm, morning light.

Cavaniglia’s work, like Jon Niesche’s sculpture En dehors (scarlet to choral) in the downstairs gallery, shows a maximum exactitude and profound commitment to make work that really stops us in our tracks.  De hors on the lower ground made from brass piano hinges, voile and dye is perfect art, utterly sublime and 100% mesmerising.

Jonny Niesche, En Dehors (scarlet to choral) 2018, three-leaf screen, voil, acrylic mirror and brass piano hinges; installation view National Art School Gallery from L-R, John Nixon, Jonny Niesche, David Serisier and Richard Dunn   Photo: Robin Hearfield.

There are too many wonderful paintings and artists to mention here – being a painter herself it is not surprising that Savvas puts a lot of paintings in this show; it makes the experience very meaty and soothing. At the very least, it is a medicinal tonic to multi-media shows that leave you feeling cold and like an outsider.

This show is inclusive and rich. But most importantly, it inspires you to go out and eat more art for breakfast, lunch and tea. 

Rating: ★★★★★

Extreme Prejudice: 2018 Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize

Guest Curator Nike Savvas

National Art School, Darlinghurst

Until 12 May 2018

The pairings of established and emerging artists for the 2018 Prize are:

  • Richard Bell & Megan Cope
  • Vivienne Binns OAM & Jacob Potter
  • Vicente Butron & Gemma Avery
  • Richard Dunn & Adrian McDonald
  • Sarah Goffman & Connie Anthes
  • Agatha Gothe-Snape & Aodhan Madden
  • Gail Hastings & Dan McCabe
  • Tim Johnson & Hayley Megan French
  • Lindy Lee & Kath Fries
  • Stephen Little & Joe Wilson and Chanelle Collier
  • Jonny Niesche & Mason Kimber
  • John Nixon & Lucina Lane
  • Rose Nolan & Renee Cosgrave
  • Kerrie Poliness & Melissa Deerson
  • Elizabeth Pulie & Zoe Marni-Robertson
  • Huseyin Sami & Consuelo Cavaniglia
  • David Serisier & Oliver Wagner
  • Jenny Watson & Annie O’Rourke
  • Hilarie Mais & Conor O’Shea


Belinda Aucott
About the Author
Belinda Aucott is a journalist and media consultant with over 17 years of experience. During her career she has worked in Sydney; London; Paris and Milan writing for publications including Fashion Wire Daily; GQ; Oyster; Men’s Style; Penthouse; Australian Creative; Indesign; Design Quarterly and Design Taxi. Belinda also has extensive experience in digital and social media spheres having held the position of Online Editor for Habitusliving, FHM, and at Yahoo for Marie Claire and Home Beautiful. With a background in radio journalism, current affairs media and public relations, Belinda now works as a publicist and writer of branded content. Her passion is helping brands to tell better stories.