Cover image of the review
Charles Le Brun (designer), The Entry of Alexander in Babylon, early 18th century, wool, silk. Judocus de Vos (Brussels workshop), Belgium (manufacturer). Herbert and May Shaw Bequest. Hamilton Gallery Collection. Courtesy of Hamilton Gallery.

Emerging From Darkness: Faith, Emotion and The Body in the Baroque

30 Dec 2023
Hamilton Art Gallery 8 Dec - 14 Apr 2024

I have a lingering memory of accidentally sitting down next to Geoffrey Rush at the Melbourne International Film Festival in 2016. It was for a screening of The Death of Louis XIV by the Catalan artist-filmmaker Albert Serra. My immediate impression was that Rush had coveted the role of the King, played by aging French actor Jean-Pierre Léaud (whose acting career began in the 1950s). Of course, the antipodean actor had no real claim to a role that is the very embodiment of French imperialism. Still, I felt that there was a striking similarity between Rush and Louis / Léaud. At the time, Rush was the inaugural president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA); he resigned the year after my encounter with him following allegations of inappropriate behaviour while he was playing the lead role in the Sydney Theatre Company’s staging of King Lear. “L’État c’est moi,” I imagined Rush repeating to himself (linking the ancient ruler of the Britons to the almost modern Louis). The Oscar-like gold statuette for the Australian Academy was created by sculptor Ron Gomboc for the inaugural AACTA Awards in 2012, who was directed by the Academy to “incorporate the shape of the Southern Cross constellation.” How we place ourselves matters, and being in this strange proximity to Rush had revealed to me something about the structure of this projection of ourselves—back to Europe and Britain—in its twenty-first century form.

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