Art Essays

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


Portrait of Spain

July 28, 2012
Alonso Sánchez Coello, The infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia and Magdalena Ruiz (detail) c.1585–88, oil on canvas, 207 X 129 cm

Over the years one grows wary of the claims made for so-called ‘blockbuster’ exhibitions. Each new show is the biggest, the best, the first, the most important. It is, therefore, a pleasure to see an exhibition that lives up to its pre-publicity. None of the 100 works borrowed for Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the … More


I Am Eleven, The Curse of the Gothic Symphony

July 21, 2012
Screen shot 2012-08-18 at 4.38.21 PM

Screening opportunities are limited for Australian filmmakers, let alone documentary makers who may only expect to recoup their costs through TV and DVD sales. Two new efforts, I Am Eleven and The Curse of the Gothic Symphony, are currently enjoying the novelty of limited releases in cinemas around Australia. I Am Eleven by rookie film-maker, … More


Kamisaka Sekka & Hiroshige

July 21, 2012
Kamisaka Sekka (1866-1942), Flowers and plants of the four seasons 1920-25, pair of six folding screens, ink, colour and gold on silk, 82.3x244.8cm

Art in Japan has been through all the same upheavals as art in the west, but no other country has managed to retain so much of its own distinctive character. The defining characteristics include a respect for tradition that shines through even in a critical or satirical mode; a love of beauty and craftsmanship; and … 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


Portrait of Spain (a preview)

July 7, 2012
Titian, Christ carrying the Cross, c.1565, oil on canvas, 67 x 77cm

For a visitor to the Museo del Prado in Madrid one moment stays fixed in the memory: entering the central gallery to be confronted by Diego Velasquez’s masterpiece, Las Meninas (1665). The most dramatic way of approaching the painting is to see it framed by a doorway from the other side of the room. There … 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


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