Art Essays

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


Down the Rabbit Hole

June 9, 2012
Screen shot 2012-06-22 at 3.46.56 PM

Last year, according to The New York Times, 395 museums were built across China. As with most things in this vast, mysterious country, the statistics give only a superficial glimpse of the complexities involved. Firstly one might question the Chinese definition of “museum”, which may be a grandiose word for a lot of small-scale enterprises. … More


Masami Teraoka, Migration

June 2, 2012
Masami Teraoka: New Wave Series / Christine at Hanauma Bay 1992 watercolour on paper 56.5 x 75.0 cm

One of the strangest developments in the Sydney art scene is the sudden upsurge of galleries showing and selling high priced international art. This is surprising, given the fact that these are dismal times for retail and the art business is essentially retail with delusions of grandeur. There are only two explanations: either there are … More


Art Hong Kong 2012

May 26, 2012
Contemporary art installations at Art HK

Hong Kong is ideally located to take advantage an eastern economic boom that keeps defying western prophets of doom. Although it may sound scarcely believable, that defiant attitude is shared by leading western art dealers who have begun opening gigantic new spaces in a city long known as a cultural backwater. Those bad old days … 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


The Second Mona Lisa

May 19, 2012
Conservators at the Museo del Prado in Madrid recently discovered that this copy of the Mona Lisa was painted by a pupil working alongside Leonardo da Vinci.

  Leonardo da Vinci died in 1519 but he is still one of the world’s great celebrities. The recent Leonardo retrospective at the National Gallery in London attracted the longest queues ever seen in Britain. Mention his name and reporters come running, as if the latest Hollywood starlet just flew into town. Add a reference … 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