Art Essays

Salon des Refusés

April 28, 2012
Depiction of Geoffrey Lehmann by Tom Carment

In the brochure that accompanies this year’s Salon des Refusés at the S.H.Ervin Gallery, one reads that the show is “in the tradition of the renegade French Impressionists of the 1860s, who held a breakaway exhibition from the reactionary French Academy.” Leaving aside the fact that the term ‘Impressionism’ wasn’t used until the 1870s, this … More


Modern Woman

April 21, 2012
Edgar Degas, France 1834–1917 Seated dancer leaning forward, massaging her left foot c.1881–83 Pastel, brown paper backed with cardboard 62 x 49cm

Rather like its subject, Modern Woman is one of those exhibitions that must be approached with no fixed expectations, for it has the capacity to instill both disappointment and delight. Any event that includes names such as Degas, Bonnard, Renoir, Manet, Pissarro, Millet, Rodin, Vuillard and Toulouse-Lautrec, would seem to have ‘blockbuster’ written all over … More


Thomas Demand, Gonkar Gyatso

April 14, 2012
Thomas Demand, Daily #7, 2008, Dye Transfer Print, 84.7 x 77.7cm (framed)

There have been 24 previous Kaldor Public Art Projects in Sydney, but never anything so cool and oblique as Thomas Demand’s The Dailies 2012. The work is not installed in a gallery, but in the Commercial Travellers’ Association Club, in the MLC Centre, just off Martin Place. The unconventional venue is an essential part of … More


New MCA

April 7, 2012
Exterior of the new MCA on Circular Quay

A new Museum of Contemporary Art has been a long time coming. This weekend the public can take a first look and see if the wait has been worthwhile. My own verdict, after an intensive preview, is that it is a qualified success. Some would argue we have been waiting ever since John Wardell Power’s … More


Archibald Prize 2012

March 31, 2012
Martin Sharp, The thousand dollar bill, acrylic on canvas on plywood,183 x 153cm

At that dreaded time of year when the Archibald Prize rolls around, the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW strap on their armour and prepare to be criticised, condemned, lampooned and humiliated. Admittedly they often bring this fate on themselves by their choice of a show or a winner. The only difference this time … More


Mike Parr, Denise Green, Art Month

March 24, 2012
Mike Parr, Islands of the Dead, 2004, carborundum relief, hand coloured from plywood on 4 sheets of Velin Arches 400 gsm paper, 250 x 480cm, unique state

Three weeks in, Art Month keeps rolling. The wine is still being sipped, the eager crowds scramble from one gallery to the next; the chatter is relentless. There’s always something else to say about Art, even if each new pronouncement tends to contradict the previous one. The unresolved issue hanging over this collective love-in for … More


William Kentridge: Five Themes & A Universal Archive (Parts 7-23)

March 17, 2012
William Kentridge, Five Themes, 840 x 646

“Thinking against oneself,” was a phrase used by the German philosopher, Theodor W. Adorno, whose late work was filled with melancholy reflections on the Holocaust. He was referring to the Nazis, who clung to a set of beliefs that allowed them to divide humanity up into a master race and a disposable remainder. This is … More


Last Days

March 16, 2012
Laith McGregor, Drunken Boat

“Hurry, hurry, last days!” Margaret Olley used to say, when she felt the pinch of old age. Her final show, completed in fairy tale fashion on the day she died, reveals an artist who knew she did not have much time left. The paintings in the exhibition, The Inner Sanctum, hosted by Philip Bacon in … More


Sunset over Cottesloe

March 13, 2012
Paul Caporn, dump, Cottesloe 2012

As half of the Sydney art world celebrated the launch of Art Month, and the other half clinked glasses at a valedictory show of Margaret Olley’s work, I was on Cottesloe Beach watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean. It was the eighth incarnation of Sculpture by the Sea in Western Australia, and I … More


Parallel Collisions: The 2012 Adelaide Biennial

March 10, 2012
Tim Silver, 'Untitled' (object), 2011-12.

“We love language,” confessed the curators of Parallel Collisions: the 12th Adelaide Biennial. This may not sound controversial – for the purposes of communication it’s very useful. It was only as I read through the boxed, brick-heavy catalogue for this exhibition that I began to feel Natasha Bullock and Alexie Glass-Kantor may love language not … More