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Charles Blackman 1928-2018

August 23, 2018

It’s a cliché when the death of an artist also represents ‘the end of an era’, but the death of Charles Blackman draws a line under a heroic generation of Australian figurative painters. Although it represents only a small episode in a long career, Blackman was the last of The Antipodeans – a group brought … More


Li Huayi: Fantasies on Paper and Enchantments in Gold

August 2, 2018

Fantasies on Paper and Enchantments in Gold is a title that western audiences might view ironically, as a deliberately florid, over-the-top tease. For this we may thank an artist such as Jeff Koons, who has blurred the line between kitsch and fine art so successfully it’s no longer possible to draw the sharp distinctions that … More


Sun Xun: Shapeshifter

July 13, 2018

“Whenever I find people putting a tag on my work I try to prove it untrue,” says Sun Xun. “I take pride in the fact that no-one can catch me. I will change the medium of my work or the style of my work. I’ll aim to be different every time, so that nobody can … More


John Mawurndjul: Bark Maestro

June 22, 2018

Here’s an art trivia question: “Who was the first Australian artist to be given a retrospective at two major European museums?” Answer: John Mawurndjul of western Arnhem Land, who in 2005-06 had his work shown at the Museum Tinguely in Basel, and the Sprengel Museum in Hannover. If you don’t remember seeing the exhibition when … More


Harrie Fasher: The Last Charge

February 16, 2018

How many artists can look back on their careers and identify an ‘I have arrived’ moment? For Picasso that moment came in 1907 with Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, for Sidney Nolan, it was the first Ned Kelly series of 1946-47. Damien Hirst exhibited his dead shark in formaldehyde in 1991, the following year Jeff Koons showed … More


Guy Warren

February 2, 2018

Guy Warren is part of the landscape of Australian art, which may be the reason he has been so often overlooked. An exact contemporary of artists such as Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and Jeffrey Smart, Warren has lived happily enough with a much lower profile. This is partly a reflection of his personality, which displays … More


Ray Hughes 1946 – 2017

December 15, 2017

With the death of someone truly unique it seems the only words that leap to mind are clichés. I’m already counting the number of times I’ve heard that Ray Hughes, who died last week at the age of 72, after a bout of pneumonia, was “larger than life”, a “legendary” art dealer. Such epithets may … More


Xu Zhen

December 8, 2017

In 2009 Xu Zhen decided he would “set aside his identity as an individual artist” and become a corporate entity. For the next four years, MadeIn Company (as in “Made in China”) would produce a dazzling variety of work for international museums and galleries. In 2013, its booming success encouraged the Company to release its … More


Louvre Abu Dhabi

November 24, 2017

“Let there be light,” said Jean Nouvel, when invited to work on the billion dollar project that has become Louvre Abu Dhabi. The acclaimed French architect refers to himself as a “contextual artist” whose first responsibility is to the broader culture in which a building takes its place. In this instance, his starting point was … More


Lore of the Land: Songlines

October 27, 2017

Under a blue, cloudless sky the road is one long strip of red earth, hemmed in by expanses of dry, tufty grass and scrub. The dominant colour is a pale yellow-grey, offset with the faintest tinges of green. The major landmark is Mount Conner, a long flat-topped monolith of reddish rock overshadowed by Uluru’s celebrity. … More


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