Recent Sydney Morning Herald

Yangjiang Group, Das Kapital Football (still), 2009, ink on xuan paper calligraphy, action, documentation, installation (two channel video: DV widescreen anamorphic, colour, with sound, ink on xuan paper carpet). Courtesy the artists and Vitamin Creative Space.

Yangjiang Group & Zhang Huan

February 21, 2015

In Sydney the word “event” is always an understatement. The calendar is packed with one event after another, most of them growing more extravagant with each passing year. The procession begins with the Sydney Festival in January and continues until Christmas sends everyone home for a few days before the streets are packed again for … More

Posted in: Sydney Morning Herald Column

Gold Eye Ring c.1810. Courtesy of the Anne Schofield Collection.

A Fine Possession: Jewellery and Identity

February 14, 2015

A Fine Possession: Jewellery and Identity at the Powerhouse Museum has been the great word-of-mouth exhibition over the summer. There have been many enquiries as to when I’d be reviewing this show, which I’ve been keeping in reserve – partly because it’s tempting to hold back on an exhibition that runs until September, and partly … More

Posted in: Sydney Morning Herald Column

James Turrell, Afrum (White), 1966, cross-corner projection: projected light. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. © James Turrell. Photograph © Florian Holzherr.

James Turrell: A Retrospective

February 7, 2015

Light is the crucial element for almost every great painter, from Caravaggio to Turner to Monet. Manipulating paint on canvas to convincingly reproduce the effects of sunshine or darkness is a skill that separates the master from the amateur. In Australian art one thinks of the blaze of light in Streeton’s early paintings, or the … More

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Dorota Mytych, 'The Small', 2014, bronze, patina 500 elements: dimensions variable. McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery, Photo: Mark Ashkanasy 2014

McClelland Sculpture Survey & Awards 2014

January 31, 2015

It is the ambition of the McClelland Sculpture Park + Gallery, according to its director, Robert Lindsay, to be the national focus of sculpture and Australia’s leading sculpture park. While Sydney’s annual Sculpture By the Sea might covet the first title, the McClelland’s only serious competition as an outdoor display is probably the Heide Museum … More

Posted in: Sydney Morning Herald Column

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From the blog

Bruce Nauman, The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths, 1967

The Artist as Professional

February 28, 2015

In 1903 Cézanne wrote to his dealer, Ambrose Vollard: “Must art indeed be a priesthood, demanding that the faithful be bound to it body and soul?” Today the question would be greeted with derision. Art in the 21st century is not a spiritual calling, it is a profession. The artist is not motivated by inner … More

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Celebrated artist Guan Wei has painted three works to mark Chinese New Year. Photo: Danielle Smith

Guan Wei: Promised Land

February 21, 2015

Guan Wei is one of a generation of Chinese artists who settled in Australia in the wake of the Tiananmen Square events of 1989, and found themselves balanced between two cultures in a way that was simultaneously confusing and stimulating. While Guan Wei’s work has remained distinctively, unmistakably Chinese, he has drawn a large part … More

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Michael Keaton as Riggan in 'Birdman' (2014)

Paths to Stardom:

February 14, 2015

Birdman, the new film by Alejandro González Inárritu, tells us everything we need to know about the ever-changing path to stardom. Riggan, played by Michael Keaton, is an actor who has become famous for playing a comic book superhero, but craves the prestige and ‘authenticity’ conferred by the Broadway stage. In the twilight of his … More

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Colin Lanceley (Australia, b.1938), 'Songs of a summer night (Lynne's garden)' (1985), oil, wood on canvas

Colin Lanceley 1938-2015

February 7, 2015

Colin Lanceley was an artist of rare integrity who pursued his own ideals of beauty in an artworld that made a fetish of ugliness. He was a thinker, and a wonderfully articulate speaker who could address a large audience with the ease of a dinner party conversation. He was a dedicated advocate for causes such … More

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