REVIEW: Art After Hours – Punk goes Pop

Originally published May 21st 2015

Over the summer having a crazy work schedule meant that I wasn’t up for doing much of anything except collapsing into bed after a shift. Somehow, a friend of mine convinced me to attend The Art Galley of New South Wales’ Art After Hours goes retro: 1970s Pop to popism event.

Art After Hours is a surreal experience, running events on a Wednesday every week. It is an over 18s event, however most of the exhibitions are available during normal opening hours. Its just a new way to experience art, and reminded me of something from a movie, where the cool hipster characters meet up at galleries after work and hang out drinking fancy champagne.

My friend’s bargaining tools were that we were able to dress up and there would be a feminist talk, as the second wave of feminism started in the 1970s. I donned my plaid skirt, combat boots and ripped denim vest to fit with the punk theme whilst my friend donned knee high boots and sequins to fit with the disco.

The entrance was full of seats for the talk that was to happen with Annabel Crabb but there were events all over the Art Gallery that night. There were talks with artist Vivienne Binns, films featuring Andy Warhol and Elvis Presley and live rock and roll music.

My friend and I were among the younger audience members and one of the only groups dressed up, so we downed a lovely cocktail and headed down to the exhibition.

This particular night was an ode to the 1970’s pieces of the exhibition, but it featured the history of pop art as it grew throughout the decades. Pop art is something that has always fascinated me with its aesthetics being used in today’s pop culture. Of course, I’d seen pictures of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans piece from 1962, but I had never really seen it in the flesh. It was a surreal experience, seeing pieces I loved for the first time up close. There are iconic pieces that have been reworked over time but I had never seen the original. Pop art is known for it’s aesthetic of such bright colours that if you’re not prepared, it can be a little overwhelming.

Andy Warhol, the Pennsylvanian artist, was featured heavily in the exhibition, as he is known for being a major contributor to the time period. It wasn’t limited to his work however, with Australian artists like Maria Kozic being featured amongst international work for the first time. This shows the scale of the event, all encompassing in its works. It begins from the first pieces of pop art to the later, more prominent pieces.

Art After Hours goes retro! 1970’s event was by no means small, filling the entire museum with life when it would normally be closed, the only people present security and cleaners. I was disappointed at having to leave early, wishing I were able to stay until the end. I think that speaks to how exciting Art After Hours is. It’s something special, something you can’t do all the time, but it is definitely an experience I would recommend.

Art After Hours runs Wednesdays from 5-10pm at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, with events correlating to featured exhibits.

Feature image found here

Opinions expressed are the author’s own.


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