Arts & culture

Pop Masters: Art from the Mugrabi Collection, New York.

February 10, 2023

In a bold, landmark achievement, world-famous works of art will be on our doorstep, leaving the likes of Sydney and Melbourne to weep from envy.

There are many reasons to move to the Gold Coast; ten years ago, I did just that. But, and there’s often a but because nowhere is perfect, I was troubled by the art scene, which I found somewhat lacking.

Well, thank goodness for Tracy Cooper-Lavery and those wise enough to grant her the position of Director of the Home of The Arts (HOTA) Gallery. She was the perfect match for the much anticipated, and stunning contemporary Gallery at HOTA, which was opened in 2021.

So due to Tracy’s vision for what the gallery could be, I can now say I live in a city that is about to open a landmark exhibition that would be the envy of galleries from all corners of the globe.

Opening on the 18 of February, the Pop Art exhibit features more than 50 never before seen in Australia works of art. It is all thanks to Tracy, her New York connections, her dedication, and her patience as this exhibition was six years in the making.


Keith Haring… by Joe McNally

Andy Warhol Posing for a Photo by Santi Visalli

Jean-Michel Basquiat 1985 © LizzieHimmel. Artwork © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

So why choose Pop Art? Well, everybody has heard of Andy Warhol and that may be enough to get people through the doors, but also it is an art form that almost everybody can relate to on some level.

“With Pop Art, they’re representing the world around us … it’s that idea that the very commercially available, recognizable objects or images, are then taken out of context and turned into an artwork which makes them instantly recognizable,” Tracy explains.

Along with the 24 works by Warhol, there are works by other iconic artists who often worked alongside or even with Warhol including Jean-Michel Basquiat, George Condo and Keith Haring.

In fact, Tracy sees the connection between the artists who first created this style as an important aspect of the exhibit. There is more to this exhibit than just appreciating the art and during the curation, it was understood they were also telling a story about these artists and their connections to one another.

“There’s also a really beautiful collection of some of his (Warhol’s) Polaroids in the show …  it’s a really nice connection because the Polaroids are of some of the other artists that are in the show.

It goes to the very heart of what this exhibition is about, which is exploring the idea of Andy Warhol and then Haring and Basquiat as kind of the central figures and then all these other artists that orbit around them,” Tracy said.

The flame that was lit by the likes of Warhol and Haring has continued to burn bright and there are some more contemporary works featured in the show.

Works by KAWS who creates incredible images that are a mash-up of easily identifiable icons in pop culture (pun definitely intended!)

Andy Warhol Self-Portrait (Camouflage), 1986 © 2023 Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. ARS/Copyright Agency.

Jean-Michel Basquiat, New York, New York, 1981 © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York.

Keith Haring Untitled,1981 © Keith Haring Foundation.

Katherine Bernhardt’s pieces are based on mundane objects she finds in her studio. Think coffee cups, Windex, or a banana. Tom Sachs has created a large-scale representation of a Reese’s Pieces chocolate wrapper. Did I hear someone say Campbell soup tin?

Because the Gold Coast isn’t exactly known as a player in the art world (yet) many Gold Coasters and even tourists might hesitate to spend a day away from the beach to look at art, which is why this exhibit was a perfect choice.

“I think that you know if something is going to change your mind or provoke conversation or interest. This is the show to do it …  there will be artists that most people will recognize, someone like Andy Warhol is a household name. You know, who would have ever thought that you would see Andy Warhol’s work on the Gold Coast?” Tracy said.

Also, it is worth remembering that the HOTA precinct has so much more to enjoy and makes a fun day out for all with walks, a lake, and much more.

Plus, we can’t forget the restaurant, café and rooftop bar. So as Tracy tells me, “… Look if all else fails, the argument would be well, come for a drink and stay for the art!”