'So many worlds, so much to do, so little done, such things to be'. (Tennyson)
The Hilton Hotel at South Wharf is currently hosting an exhibition of Victorian artists' portraits which did not make the cut for this year's Archibald Prize finals. It's the Victorian Salon Des Refusés 2012 (Salon of the Rejected) otherwise known as 'The Hidden Faces of the Archibald'. Entry is free until 16 August.
I used to enjoy wandering around the Arts Centre Gallery to see the Archibald Prize touring exhibition each year. It is great to know there is a city alternative now that the 'real thing' has moved to the Yarra Valley.
Just like the Archibald touring exhibition, you can vote for a People's Choice award. The subjects range from self-portraits of little known artists to household names like Peter Moody and Black Caviar. Just like Archy, there is a vast difference in the way the artists approach portraiture, from detail reminiscent of the Old Masters to something rather like a texta colour line drawing on crumpled butcher's paper. There are also plenty of paintings here that elicit a response, for good or bad. Instead of, 'How on earth did that get in?' you get to say smugly, 'No wonder that didn't get in.' Luckily, those curating this exhibition have rather more art cred than me: all the portraits have earned the right to be seen here.
Unlike the Archibald touring exhibitions that I remember, you can win a night at the Hilton just for voting in the People's Choice. What's more, a number of the paintings are for sale. It's worth noting that Manet's famous Manet's Déjeuner sur l'Herbe was in the original Salon Des Refusés held in Paris in 1863. Maybe you'll have the eye to pick up your own undervalued masterpiece.
There aren't many art exhibitions you can visit 24 /7. Given that DFO's next door and a gaggle of new cafés and bars are getting good custom on the adjacent river edge, there is every reason to drop by.
I'll certainly be back next year. And not just to win a free night's accommodation.