COLOURFUL: The exhibition The Curtain Breathed Deeply by Sydney artist Justene Williams is showing at the Lismore Regional Gallery until July 1.
COLOURFUL: The exhibition The Curtain Breathed Deeply by Sydney artist Justene Williams is showing at the Lismore Regional Gallery until July 1. Javier Encalada

NUDITY WARNING: Penis on a barbecue features in new art show

IT IS not often that we look into a barbecue and we are greeted by the sight of a penis, a fully erect one, dancing around a video screen on a loop short film.

But then, this is the Northern Rivers, and we are at the Lismore Regional Gallery.

The appendage in question is a small part (well, that's relative) of the latest show at Lismore Regional Gallery, Justene Williams' The Curtain Breathed Deeply.

The touring exhibition, which is preceded by a sign at the entrance explaining the show features nudity, opened last Friday, and it features - besides the ubiquitous male organ - a number of other screens showcasing, on and off, images of female genitalia and nude people interacting in a non-sexual way.

The show is a mix of video, handmade sets and sculptural pieces in bright colours and textures, and it pays tribute to the life and work of the Western Sydney artist's father, and nods to the hospital curtain that marked the finals stage of his life before he passed away from lung cancer.

 

COLOURFUL: The exhibition The Curtain Breathed Deeply by Sydney artist Justene Williams is showing at the Lismore Regional Gallery until July 1.
COLOURFUL: The exhibition The Curtain Breathed Deeply by Sydney artist Justene Williams is showing at the Lismore Regional Gallery until July 1. Javier Encalada

After the opening, a group of children and parents toured the show on Sunday.

Gallery director Brett Adlington confirmed there had been no complaints regarding the show, which had a very successful opening on Friday and is at the gallery until the end of June.

"The show is a touring package from Museum and Galleries NSW and although I had not seen this particular show before it came here I have seen Justene's work before," he said.

"She's a good, strong artist, and that character comes through in her work.

"The previous exhibition at the main gallery, Beguile, European Masters:17th - 20th Century, could have been seen as a more mainstream exhibition, but you don't want to be showing the one kind of exhibition all the time."

Mr Adlington said he expected the community to enjoy the show.

"It's not too 'in your face' as you enter, you need to be well into the exhibition to encounter those parts of it that include some nudity, but it is not the main theme of the show," he said.

 

COLOURFUL: The exhibition The Curtain Breathed Deeply by Sydney artist Justene Williams is showing at the Lismore Regional Gallery until July 1.
COLOURFUL: The exhibition The Curtain Breathed Deeply by Sydney artist Justene Williams is showing at the Lismore Regional Gallery until July 1. Javier Encalada

Mr Adlington said the gallery had instructed its front desk staff and volunteers to warn visitors of the nature of the work, besides the signage used.

"Friday's opening had very good feedback, we had to kick people out at the end because they were hanging in there, exploring the show, not wanting to leave," he said.

The gallery director said he hopes the nudity included in the show is not the only reason why people visit the exhibition.

"I hope it doesn't become popular because of this, I think there is a lot more going on for the work," he said.

"We are not doing this to shock people, we are not buying into the art just to shock narrative, but it is interesting how people see nudity in a historical art context is different to nudity in a contemporary art context.

"There was nudity in Beguile, the last show, and questionable representation of women also in works from Rembrandt and people like that."

Asked if the depiction of the penis in an open public space troubled him, Mr Adlington said that was not the case.

"There is nothing sexual here, they are only parts of the human body."


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