General Art Essays

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


Tokujin Yoshioka, Shen Shaomin & Chun Kwang-Young

December 3, 2011
Tokujin Yoshioka, Waterfall installation

There is an emerging trend in town: slipper art, and it has nothing to do with the new Speaker in Federal Parliament. At two venues this week the viewer is asked to slip a protective covering over his or her shoes, so as not to soil the art. This is slightly at odds with the … More


Tim Storrier

November 26, 2011
Tim Storrier, Reflected Fireline, 1996

Pablo Picasso is not the only highly successful artist to imagine himself as an outsider. In Australian art, Timothy Austin Storrier presents a perfect case study. A 2000 monograph by Catherine Lumby was even called: Tim Storrier: The Art of the Outsider. If you’re wondering how someone as prominent as Storrier can imagine himself anywhere … 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


John Hoyland, Charles Nodrum Gallery

August 9, 2011
John Hoyland, Moons Milk

One often reads about an artist’s ‘late style’, an autumnal period where a painter feels his mortality, slows down and mellows his palette. John Hoyland, who will be 77 this year, has obviously never heard of this concept. The paintings Hoyland is producing today are more raw, more free, more experimental than the works he … More


National Gallery of Australia: A New Extension

October 23, 2010
New Indigenous galleries & entrance project

Nobody in Australia is more experienced in the ways of gallery building than Andrew Andersons, the chief architect of the new wing at the National Gallery of Australia. Although he is a super professional, Andersons has often been criticised by other architects who find his buildings prosaic, deficient in detail and artistry. To be fair, … More


Australian artists tour China

October 9, 2010
The British pavilion at the Shanghai Expo

With each year China is exerting a greater attraction for Australian artists. This is not simply a reflection of the country’s status as this century’s coming super power, or the fact that the Australian economy is riding on the back of China’s insatiable appetite for resources. There is a pervasive energy in contemporary Chinese art … More


Super Cooper

July 15, 2010

Despite a ludicrous survey conducted by the Australia Council that tells us 93 per cent of Australians are actively involved in the arts, the politicians are not fooled. They know that art is a minority pursuit, with no votes to be won or lost. One of the reasons for this stasis is the age-old connection … More


Bernard Ollis

August 31, 2006
Bernard Ollis, Ventriloquist, 2004

Bernard Ollis is one of those painters who elude easy categorization. This is at best a mixed blessing, because art historians love to be able to define an artist as an expressionist, a realist, a surrealist, or some plausible combination. Ollis is a little of each, but ultimately none of the above. He is a … More