Australian Art

Geoff Dyer, Stephen Bird, Etsuko Fukaya, Joanna Braithwaite

February 11, 2012
Stephen Bird, Eliza Day, 2011

When Thoreau wrote: “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”, he probably wasn’t thinking about art dealers. Yet the phrase springs to mind when one considers the sluggishness of the commercial art scene over the past couple of years. While the art market weathered the GFC better than was generally expected, an extended … More


Impressions: Painting Light & Life

February 4, 2012
Julian Ashton, 'Study of Alice Muskett', oil on wood, 1893

A survey of portraiture by Australian artists of the late nineteenth century would seem to be long overdue. Despite the institutional obsession with all things contemporary, the works of the so-called Australian Impressionists – Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Fred McCubbin and Charles Conder – remain the most popular drawcards in our public collections. The problem … More


Elisabeth Cummings

January 21, 2012
Elisabeth Cummings, Magnetic Termite Mounds, 2011

A recent press release from the National Gallery of Australia announces an exhibition of 200 years of Australian landscape to be held at the Royal Academy, London, in September 2013. This is a long-overdue event, and it is to be hoped the NGA takes the opportunity to make the show something more than a historical … More


Brian Wallace

January 14, 2012
Chen Qingqing (senior artist), No and Keng

Over the past two decades Chinese art has made inroads into the Australian museum and gallery world, prompting Brian Wallace of Bejing’s Red Gate gallery, to put together a travelling exhibition for his native land. To welcome in the year of the Dragon, the City of Sydney will host Two Generations – 20 years of … More


Pablo Picasso & the Dobell Prize for Drawing 2011

December 10, 2011
Anne Judell, Breath (triptych), pastel, graphite

According to Hendrik Kolenberg, the Art Gallery of NSW’s Senior Curator of Australian Prints, Drawings and Watercolours, the Dobell Prize for Drawing is the most serious art award in Australia. This doesn’t mean the show is all grey and humourless, it is essentially a comment on the medium. Drawing is the armature of an artist’s … More


Sculpture by the Sea 2011

November 12, 2011
Simon McGrath, Who left the tap running?, Sculpture By The Sea, Bondi 2011

To see what Sculpture by the Sea is really all about, one needs to go on a weekend, when the walk between Bondi and Tamarama is teeming with people. For most exhibitions this is the worst scenario for viewing works, but with SXS the open-air setting means that no piece is ever rendered inaccessible. The … More


The Portia Geach Memorial Award

October 29, 2011
Sophie Cape, Master and Commander. Mixed media on canvas, 208 x 286cm.

One of the small paradoxes of colonial Australian art is the question as to why there were so few notable female artists at a time when women art students continually outnumbered their male counterparts. Looking at photos of the graduating classes of the National Gallery of Victoria School in the late 1800s, there is always … More


Robert Malherbe, Rhys Lee, Peter Godwin & Guan Wei

October 22, 2011
Peter Godwin, Studio Interior/ Torricelli Mask, 2011, gouache and tempera on paper, 40 x 60cm

There is a romantic expectation that an artist will keep producing works that are wholly original. This can create a debilitating pressure, as some feel obliged to produce a new twist with every exhibition. But art is not created in a vacuum, and all artists take something from their predecessors. As Picasso is famously alleged … More


Art and Seoul

October 20, 2011
Flags

Regular readers must be starting to wonder in what part of the world they’ll find themselves from week to week. I’m starting to wonder myself. Recently I was in Seoul for the 10th Korean International Art Fair, today I’m on a plane coming back from Shanghai. Without wanting to sound glib, the very fact that … More


The 60th Blake Prize Exhibition

October 1, 2011
William Blake, Ancient of Days, 1794, watercolour etching

In recent years I have cheerfully avoided the Blake Prize and might have done so again in its 60th anniversary year, had not Rachael Kohn from Radio National asked me to comment on the show. The reason why I generally avoid the Blake is not because I’m irreligious – which I freely admit – but … More