Of Museums and Art Galleries (1)

Publishing this blog in the middle of the COVID pandemic is so ironic. Travel (by air-land-sea) is still limited. Today is summer in the Philippines, where travel is supposedly at its peak. But not this year. This is the “summer that never was.”

Of all the places (both domestic and international) that I have visited so far, there is only one place that I will never get tired of visiting – Sydney. I have been there a couple of times but there are always places to discover, food to eat and new experience to look forward to. Weather in New South Wales is generally balmy in summer, “perfect” in spring and fall, and “just the right chill” in winter. Most of the time, the weather is fantastic except when it’s raining.

I usually spend at least two weeks every time I visit Sydney. I have this mindset of an intrepid traveler whenever I am in a foreign land. I try, as much as possible, to make a real human connection. I delve into their history and local culture. Experience widens my senses and world view – and the best place to acquire all these things is in the museum.

Sydney has world-class museums and galleries which are, literally, ‘walking distance away’ from each other. These museums are diverse showcasing Australia’s maritime history (Australian National Maritime Museum), arts (Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Billich Gallery, and Art Gallery of New South Wales), industrial past (Powerhouse Museum), local history (Museum of Sydney, The Sydney Jewish Museum), and natural history (Australian Museum).

Billich Gallery (106 George St, The Rocks, NSW. Daily, 9am-7pm)

Housed in one of the buildings in The Rocks, the unique three-story structure adds more flair to the surreal and eclectic paintings all over the place. The atrium gives that airy and spacious feel with the natural light beaming inside the gallery.

Known for his avantgarde style, contemporary surrealist Charles Billich is one of Australia’s most prominent living artists. A prolific painter, drawer and sculptor for the past 35 years, Charles Billich works in all media forms and specializes in an impressive breadth of subject matter, including ballet, sport, architecture, portraiture, stage, and classism (https://www.billich.com/pages/about-charles-billich).

I am not an art connoisseur. I appreciate art based on what I see – whatever that means. I do not have the proper vocabulary to describe Billich’s masterpieces. His collections are eclectic and this does not come as a surprise because of his rich and colorful past.  Surreal is another term that comes to my mind while appreciating his paintings.

Summarizing my experience in his gallery, Charles Billich is “loved for his rock star flare and irreverent style, contemporary surrealist artist.”  Indeed, he has captivated the imagination of collectors globally.

From https://www.facebook.com/BillichGallery

Art Gallery of New South Wales (Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney)

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is one of Australia’s leading museums, with a fine collection of Australian, European, Asian and contemporary works. There is also a permanent display of Pacific art and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander masterpieces. It also boasts of more than 5,000 photographs on its collection.

Located in the beautiful parklands of The Domain and overlooking the picturesque Sydney Harbour, it is only a 10-15 minute walk from the Central Business District.

The art gallery has exhibits from time to time featuring both local and international artists. During my visit, “Japan Supernatural” is on exhibit. It features more than 200 wildly imaginative works by past and present Japanese artists – from historical master Katsushika Hokusai to superstar Takashi Murakami, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi and Kawanabe Kyosai, alongside contemporary artists Chiho Aoshima and Miwa Yanagi who update the tradition for our times.

Aside from the the collections on display, the art gallery has a “Gallery Shop” where prints are on sale. These are poster prints of different artists. Averaging 20-30 AUD, anyone can have a miniature of a masterpiece which can be beautifully framed. On my next visit, I plan to buy three of these prints to add to my James Rizzi collection.

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