Australian Art

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


Growing up with Goannas

June 23, 2012
Mark Tedeschi,  Corey Payne, NRL player for Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

A few months ago I advised a friend not to labour over her blog, but to write smaller, more spontaneous pieces and publish more frequently. Unfortunately, it seems I’m completely incapable of following my own good advice. The perennial gap between theory and practice – or should that be good intentions and reality? – has begun … More


AGNSW: A new hang

June 23, 2012
Screen shot 2012-07-06 at 6.06.32 PM

A new hang of a gallery’s permanent collection was once a routine affair, but nowadays it has taken on the status of an event. This is partly because the rising costs of doing exhibitions combined with the dwindling budgets of public galleries have forced all institutions to draw more heavily on the works they already … More


Not the Way Home, Damaged

June 16, 2012
Elisabeth Cummings Creek Bed Fowlers Gap 2011 oil on canvas 115 x 130cm

In recent years there has been a spate of projects in which a group of artists are taken to some far-flung location and invited to respond to a new environment. The end result is a group exhibition that gathers together works made on the spot, and those created afterwards in the studio from memories, sketches … More


Euan Macleod: The Shadow Line

May 22, 2012
Screen shot 2012-06-27 at 12.16.43 AM

Euan Macleod may be a landscape painter but it often seems as if the physical world is not his principle focus. Although he may stand for hours painting en plein air; although his pictures may reflect the recognisable features of a particular place, Macleod’s true subject is to be found within his own mind. The … More


Australian Symbolism

May 19, 2012
Rupert Bunny - "Pastoral", circa 1893, oil on canvas, 142 x 251cm

There are moments in art history that are fascinating to contemplate but irredeemably minor. This pretty much sums up Australian Symbolism, which plays a supporting role to Impressionist landscape and those paintings of a broadly nationalist persuasion that dominated art in this country in the decades leading up to the First World War. Symbolism in … More


The Clock, Marking Time

May 12, 2012
The Clock, 2010 single-channel video, 24 hours, photo by Christian Marclay

Switzerland gave us the cuckoo clock, and Swiss-American artist, Christian Marclay, has created the most preposterous time-piece in the history of art. The Clock is such a unique artifact it defies all but the most impressionistic responses. This is obvious from Zadie Smith’s essay in the brochure published for the work’s showing at the Museum … More


Janet Laurence

May 5, 2012
Cellular Gardens (Where Breathing Begins),stainless steel, mild steel, acrylic, blown glass, rainforest plants, dimensions variable

There is a certain moral cachet that comes with the label “environmental artist”. Janet Laurence seems to be simultaneously attracted to the description and slightly embarrassed. She realises that any form of categorisation is a potential trap, but if one simply must wear a label, well “environmental artist” is among the more attractive options. It … More


Salon des Refusés

April 28, 2012
Depiction of Geoffrey Lehmann by Tom Carment

In the brochure that accompanies this year’s Salon des Refusés at the S.H.Ervin Gallery, one reads that the show is “in the tradition of the renegade French Impressionists of the 1860s, who held a breakaway exhibition from the reactionary French Academy.” Leaving aside the fact that the term ‘Impressionism’ wasn’t used until the 1870s, this … More