Australian Art

Australia at the Royal Academy

September 28, 2013
John Olsen, Sydney sun (King sun) 1965, oil on three plywood panels, 307.0 h x 412.5 w x 4.0 d cm

Australia at the Royal Academy of Arts in London has echoes of Baz Luhrmann’s blockbuster movie of 2010. Like that overblown, incoherent concoction, the one-word title of the RA show suggests this is all you will ever need to know about Australian art. It presents itself as a definitive statement. Kathleen Soriano, Director of Exhibitions … More


David Boyd

September 8, 2012
David Boyd's painting from his Murrumbeena series.

If one had to nominate a director to make a movie about the Boyd family, it would be hard to go past Wes Anderson. After watching his new film, Moonrise Kingdom, I imagined what he might do with the eccentric childhood of David Boyd and his siblings at their Murrumbeena property, Open Country. One painting … More


Rollin Schlicht & Shaun Gladwell

September 1, 2012
Rollin Schlicht( 1937-2011), Homage 11 (to Picasso) 1973, acrylic on canvas, 183.0 x 183.0 cm

Rollin Schlicht was a complex personality. Many people found him to be abrasive and self-centred, but he was also strikingly intelligent and could be charming if it suited him. Schlicht was born in 1936, and died of pancreatic cancer on 1 March, last year. He was by turns, both artist and architect. Torn between these … More


William Robinson, Aida Tomescu, Evelyn Kotai

August 25, 2012
William Robinson: Afternoon light Springbrook 2011, oil on linen, 110 x 162cm

Fred Williams used to say that if you can’t paint a portrait then your art is in trouble. He would have been surprised to see so many portraits included in his recent retrospective, as they were only ever a diversion from his landscape paintings. For an artist there is always the danger that one day … More


Robert Hughes, 1938 – 2012

August 19, 2012
Screen shot 2012-08-19 at 9.53.55 AM

When Robert Hughes died last week, I spent much of the day on the telephone. Inevitably, the passing of this great, controversial figure was a media event of the first order. Among the mass of small comments I had to produce, the Sydney Morning Herald asked for a quick 500 words. The following day the … More


Melbourne Art Fair 2012

August 11, 2012
Screen shot 2012-09-02 at 11.12.08 AM

Another Melbourne Art Fair, another chance to take the unsteady pulse of the local art market. With no hard data about turnover, a hasty prognosis would suggest the sector is still feeling the pain, although smiling through tears. Every year the Fair commissions a major work that is subsequently gifted to a public gallery. This … More


Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial 2012

August 4, 2012
Gombe-san croons to the Karaoke robot, in front of Brook Andrew's Australia House installation (photo: Brett Boardman)

When Japan was devastated by the Tohoku earthquake on 11 March last year, one of the casualties was a century-old farm house in the tiny community of Urada, in the mountains near Tokamachi City. Less than two years previously this building had been designated ‘Australia House’ at the 2009 Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial (ETT), serving … More


18th Biennale of Sydney

July 14, 2012
Sachiko Abe: Cut Papers # 13, 2012

One of the most striking images in the 18th Biennale of Sydney is that of Japanese artist Sachiko Abe, dressed in bridal white, sitting in a small brick building in Cockatoo Island, cutting paper. Visitors are asked to remain silent, so the only sound is the noise made by Abe’s scissors as she trims sheets … More


18th Biennale of Sydney

July 7, 2012
Liu Zhuoquan: Where are you? (2012) MCA installation

“Between belief in Nature and belief in politics, one has to choose,” writes French sociologist, Bruno Latour, in the stand-out essay in this year’s Biennale catalogue. We have a perfect demonstration of this principle in the hysterical debate about a carbon price. While Nature is forever, politics is an exercise in short-term, strategic thinking that … More


Theatre of the World

June 30, 2012
Screen shot 2012-07-28 at 7.45.16 PM

For many people museums are uncomfortably similar to mausoleums – repositories of dead animals, dead art, dead ideas. Even those of us who spend their lives in these institutions experience moments when everything feels too dull or predictable. At heart, museums are educational organisations, competing for attention with an ever-increasing range of distractions. But the … More


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