Salon des Refusés, the alternative Archibald, comes to Adelaide for the first time in its 30 year history

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Salon des Refusés, the alternative Archibald, comes to Adelaide for the first time in its 30 year history
Caroline Zilinsky, The Wedgwood Heart (Jonathon Dalton, artist).

NORTH ADELAIDE.- The David Roche Foundation in Adelaide hosts the often controversial Salon des Refusés for the first time in its 30 year history. The Salon des Refusés – the alternative Archibald and Wynne Prize selection – has run each year at Sydney’s National Trust S.H. Ervin Gallery since 1992. The exhibition showcases over 40 portraits and landscape works by some of Australia’s best contemporary artists.

Jane Watters, Director of the S.H. Ervin Gallery, said, “The Salon is one of Sydney’s much anticipated exhibitions for artists and audiences alike as it provides an alternative selection from the hundreds of works entered in the Archibald & Wynne Prizes each year at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The Salon des Refusés exhibition follows in the renegade spirit and tradition of an alternative salon and allows debate on the evolving definitions of contemporary portraiture with art that guarantees to be witty, controversial and engaging.”

Each year, since the Salon des Refusés was initiated in 1992 a panel of selectors from the S.H. Ervin Gallery is invited to go behind the scenes of the official judging process for the Archibald Prize for portraiture and Wynne Prize for landscape painting at the AGNSW. In 2021 the selectors for the Salon were Max Germanos, curator of 3:33 Art Projects, Katherine Roberts, senior curator of the Manly Art Gallery & Museum, and Jane Watters, Director of the S.H. Ervin Gallery. After the AGNSW Trustees selected 52 works from the 938 entries for the 2021 Archibald Prize and 39 works from 660 entries for the Wynne Prize, the S.H. Ervin Gallery’s panel then made their choices from the hundreds of remaining submissions. Ultimately, they chose 35 Archibald and 22 Wynne entries to become the ‘alternative exhibition’.

The original Salon des Refusés – ‘Salon of the Rejected’ – opened in Paris in 1863, following protests by many artists that the hanging committee of the French Academy was too restrictive in its selection of work for the annual Salon. In that year, the Academy rejected 2800 paintings submitted for the exhibition. Artists including Manet, Pissarro, Courbet and Whistler had their work rejected from the ‘official’ exhibition because they were considered too subversive by the committee. Rejection by the Academy threatened many artists with professional extinction as they dictated the taste of the buying public. Such was the outcry that the French Emperor himself, Napoleon III, demanded to see the rejected works. After the Academy also dismissed his request for the works to be included, the Emperor decreed they be displayed in a separate exhibition. And so the term Salon des Refusés entered into the world’s artistic lexicon.

It is from these origins that the S.H. Ervin Gallery’s Salon des Refusés came into being - for as the popularity of the Archibald Prize increased, so too did calls from the non selected artists and public to also view the works that had not been chosen.

Selected from the Archibald entries are Nicholas Harding’s Heather Mitchell AM (actor), Jasper Knight’s Patrick Corrigan AM (businessman, philanthropist), Chris O’Doherty’s (aka Reg Mombassa) Self portrait, Rodney Pople’s Monkey Man (Euan Macleod, artist), Sally Robinson’s Veena Sahajwalla (professor, scientist, engineer, inventor), Craig Ruddy’s I’m Gulpilil – Portrait of David Gulpilil (actor, dancer, artist, storyteller) and Wendy Sharpe’s Taylor Fontaine & The Magda Szubanskis (Drag queen/performer). And from the Wynne prize entries Warren Crossett, Kathryn Ryan, Ann Thomson and South Australian First Nations artist Rhoda Tjitayi.

“The David Roche Foundation is delighted to have partnered with the S.H. Ervin Gallery to bring this much anticipated feature of the Sydney art scene to audiences in Adelaide. The Foundation’s collection is a unique repository of European art and historical portraiture of which David Roche was a dedicated collector. The Salon des Refusés 2021 creates the opportunity to bring two collections into a new dialogue regarding the continuing significance of portraiture and landscape painting in Australia”, said Robert Reason, Museum Director.

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