Art Essays

54th Venice Biennale

June 17, 2011
Photo: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Never has a more glamorous bag accompanied such a tawdry exhibition. A dazzling gold carry-all, advertising Hany Armanious’s installation in the Australian pavilion, was to be seen all over Venice during the vernissage of the 54th Biennale. The only more prominent bag may have been the bright red one with ‘Free Ai Weiwei’ emblazoned in … More


Art Hong Kong 2011

June 10, 2011
Hitesh Natalwala, Surrender 2010, Gallery Barry Keldoulis

It is scarcely believable that the Hong Kong Art Fair is only four years old. As the infant prodigy among the many, many fairs that have been breeding, virus-like, in all parts of the world, Hong Kong’s growth has been freakish. It started out as a shrewd, optimistic idea in 2008; struggled through the GFC … More


Laverty 2, Newcastle Region Art Gallery

May 28, 2011
William Robinson, The sand ziggurat, Kingscliff (1995) 137.5 x 183.0 cm oil on canvas

All the talk this week has been about the Kaldor collection. This high-profile donation has prompted a massive operation on the belly of the Art Gallery of NSW, with architect, Andrew Andersens, playing a familiar role as the leading cosmetic surgeon of Australian museums. The makeover has transformed a dingy storage area into an elegant, … More


Ildiko Kovacs / Simone Fraser

May 19, 2011
Ildiko Kovacs, Serpentine 1999, Oil on plywood, 155 x 275 cm

May is becoming a crowded month, with works for the Head On Photo Festival being shown in more than 80 venues across the city. In addition there is a new round of exhibitions at the Art Gallery of NSW, and also a touch of musical chairs. Sullivan and Stumpf relocated to a spacious new venue … More


A fine new space for a somewhat muddled collection

May 18, 2011
Photo: Edwina Pickles

First impressions of the new galleries devoted to the John Kaldor Family Collection are all good. This vast, clean, well-lighted space is an ideal environment for showing large works of contemporary art. More


William Robinson

May 14, 2011
William Robinson, Creation landscape, darkness and light (centre panel for 'The Creation Series') 1988 Oil on linen

Looking at this year’s dismal selection for the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW, I couldn’t help thinking that the most average landscape by William Robinson, who won the prize in 1990 and 1996, would have murdered everything else in the room. More


Enrique Martínez Celaya / Michael Johnson

May 7, 2011
Enrique Martínez Celaya The Last Reason, 2011 watercolour on paper 38 x 26.5 inch / 96.52 x 67.31 cm

Enrique Martínez Celaya is an overachiever by any standard. An American artist of Cuban extraction, he has been feted and praised as only the United States can fete and praise. More


Ethel Carrick & E. Phillips Fox

April 30, 2011
Ethel Carrick Fox, Flower market, Nice c.1925. Oil on canvas. 60 x 73cm.

Words such as “delightful” do not play much of a role in this column, but if ever there were an occasion for such a lapse, it would be Art, Love & Life: Ethel Carrick & E. Phillips Fox, at the Queensland Art Gallery. The Foxes were a successful partnership, both as man and wife, and … More


Yang Fudong

April 23, 2011
Yang Fudong, No Snow on the Broken Bridge, 2006, 35mm film transferred to DVD,

Q: When is a film not a film? A: When it’s a work of contemporary art. Of all the current crop of Chinese artists who have become stars of the Biennale circuit, Yang Fudong (b.1971) is one of the most difficult to categorise. Having studied painting at the Academy of Art in Hangzhou, he has … More


The 2011 Archibald Prize

April 16, 2011
Ben Quilty, Margaret Olley, oil on linen, 170 x 150cm

It’s appropriate the Archibald Prize should coincide with Easter, because the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW have repented of their sins of last year and asked to be forgiven. Not in so many words, of course. They have simply chosen a better, more credible exhibition and tried to put the horrors of 2010 … More