Blog

Zhang Huan

December 20, 2014
Zhang Huan, 'Skin', (1997), performance.

Zhang Huan is one of today’s most acclaimed artists but he will always be known for a 1994 performance piece called 12 sq. metres, in which he sat naked, drenched in fish oil and honey, in a filthy public toilet in Beijing’s East Village artists community. Flies swarmed over the artist for an hour while … More


Matthew Barney

December 6, 2014
Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler, River of Fundament, 2014, production still, photo

For a man who has masterminded some of the largest, most outrageous artistic events of all time, Matthew Barney is strangely unassuming. Trim, casually dressed, with pale blue eyes that give nothing away, he pauses to reflect before answering every question. His replies are precise and thoughtful, but never exhaustive. Raised in rural Idaho, Barney … More


Drawing

November 22, 2014
Ross Laurie, 'Walcha II', (2013).

French poet and essayist, Paul Valéry, said that drawing required “a sustained act of will” – but any child can pick up a pencil and draw with pleasure. The act of drawing, which keeps growing less definable, is both simple and hard. Simple because anyone can make a mark, hard because it requires unstinting practice … More


The Acute Misfortune of Adam Cullen

October 18, 2014
Acut-Misfortun

Adam Cullen’s brief but eventful career was one long exercise in attention-seeking behaviour. My habitual reaction to such antics is to ignore them – to refuse to provide the oxygen of commentary, criticism, indignation that feeds self-obsession. Now that it’s all over, and Erik Jensen has immortalised the artist in a small, tragic memoir titled … More


Philanthropy and art: why Australia’s wealthy don’t invest in culture

September 22, 2014
Image courtesy Art Month Sydney

Last week found me at a function in Brisbane, discussing the state of philanthropy and patronage with art dealer, Philip Bacon – one of the few gallerists who can afford to be a philanthropist in his own right. The familiar talking point was: “Why do so few corporations and wealthy individuals sponsor the visual arts?” … More


The Prado and the World

May 24, 2014
Giambattista Tiepolo
Italian 1696–1770, worked in Spain 1762–70
The Immaculate Conception (L’Immacolata Concezione) 1767–69
oil on canvas
281.0 x 155.0 cm 
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P00363)
Spanish Royal Collection

In 1982 I paid my first visit to the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Spain was still in the process of awakening from the Franco era, which ended with the dictator’s death in 1975, and its museums were poor and neglected. The Prado was a cold, austere place with a stupendous collection. In a single … More


Fukushima: Art & Disaster

March 15, 2014
Tokyo-based artist Kota Takeuchi.

Disaster haunts the Japanese psyche. Think of the great fires that have swept up Tokyo, or the major earthquakes that have struck the country at unpredictable intervals. Think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and all the ways that nuclear energy has been portrayed in popular culture. This ranges from Tezuka Osamu’s popular cartoon hero, The Mighty … More


The Sins of the Director

February 22, 2014
'Blue Jasmine' star Cate Blanchett with the film's director Woody Allen.

At this year’s Academy Awards presentation all the talk will be about Our Cate. Will her chances of taking out the Oscar for Best Actress be damaged by that open letter to the New York Times in which Dylan Farrow claimed to have been molested at age seven by her stepfather, Woody Allen? “What if … More


Esteban Bedoya

January 11, 2014
ANCLAS & the Embassy of Paraguay present the book launch of:
“The Apocalypse According to Benedict”

A couple of weeks ago I met the Paraguayan ambassador to Australia, Esteban Bedoya, after having read his short novel, The Apocalypse Acording to Benedict. It seems to be a minor Latin America tradition to have diplomats who are also writers. Octavio Paz was Mexican ambassador to India, while Pablo Neruda was Chile’s ambassador in … More


2013: The Best & Worst of the Visual Arts

January 6, 2014
Installation piece: Xu Zhen's In Just a Blink of an Eye, in the 27th Kaldor Art Project 13 Rooms. Photo: Janie Barrett

My best art experience of the year happened on the other side of the planet, in a retrospective celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edvard Munch. The show, divided between the National Gallery and the Munch Museum in Olso, revealed an unrelenting intensity of vision. It featured the most complete collection of paintings … More


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