Kicking off with this exhibition, the National Gallery of Victoria explores notions about sport – both the celebratory and the critical. Sport within these walls has been interpreted in the broadest sense of the word, titillating both in a cerebral and physical sense. The artworks range in scope from literal illustrations of people playing or watching sport, athletes in action, places where sporting events occur or equipment that is used in sport. Other works in the exhibition are metaphorical or address tangential themes such as endurance, or notions of games and play.
Sport consciously emulates many aspects of our existence. Organised sport has many origins, from the conditioning of warriors for war to the appreciation of the gods as evidenced in the most divine of human forms. Historically, sport has assumed importance as a political tool and ideological indicator (the participation, or not, of various countries in the modern Olympic Games may serve as a ready made acid test of contemporary world politics). Yet, at the same time, sport has been described as no more than activity that occurs in pastime, a diversion, a lark and just some simple fun.
Through Fair Game, the NGV acknowledges the perpetual intermingling of sport and life. The varied and sometimes extreme approaches by artists to the theme reflect the ambivalence felt by many people. Sport inspired by art mirrors a broader cultural impact of physical activity and strategic game playing. As with many phenomena, into the future, it is likely that art will remain a window through which we bear witness to these events.