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The Artist as Professional

February 28, 2015
Bruce Nauman, The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths, 1967

In 1903 Cézanne wrote to his dealer, Ambrose Vollard: “Must art indeed be a priesthood, demanding that the faithful be bound to it body and soul?” Today the question would be greeted with derision. Art in the 21st century is not a spiritual calling, it is a profession. The artist is not motivated by inner … More


Guan Wei: Promised Land

February 21, 2015
Celebrated artist Guan Wei has painted three works to mark Chinese New Year. Photo: Danielle Smith

Guan Wei is one of a generation of Chinese artists who settled in Australia in the wake of the Tiananmen Square events of 1989, and found themselves balanced between two cultures in a way that was simultaneously confusing and stimulating. While Guan Wei’s work has remained distinctively, unmistakably Chinese, he has drawn a large part … More


Paths to Stardom:

February 14, 2015
Michael Keaton as Riggan in 'Birdman' (2014)

Birdman, the new film by Alejandro González Inárritu, tells us everything we need to know about the ever-changing path to stardom. Riggan, played by Michael Keaton, is an actor who has become famous for playing a comic book superhero, but craves the prestige and ‘authenticity’ conferred by the Broadway stage. In the twilight of his … More


Colin Lanceley 1938-2015

February 7, 2015
Colin Lanceley (Australia, b.1938), 'Songs of a summer night (Lynne's garden)' (1985), oil, wood on canvas

Colin Lanceley was an artist of rare integrity who pursued his own ideals of beauty in an artworld that made a fetish of ugliness. He was a thinker, and a wonderfully articulate speaker who could address a large audience with the ease of a dinner party conversation. He was a dedicated advocate for causes such … More


2014: The Year in Art

January 10, 2015
Roy Lichtenstein, 'In the Car', 1963.

2014 has brought mixed fortunes for Sydney’s art institutions. The Art Gallery of NSW began with a weak show of American art, and ended with the long-awaited Pop to Popism (until 1 March) – a distinct improvement, but possibly not the hit the Gallery so badly needs. In the meantime there has been a dearth … More


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


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