Sydney Morning Herald Column

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Bangkok Art Biennale

October 26, 2018

“Follow your bliss” was the signature pronouncement of Joseph Campbell, an American writer on comparative mythology who became a guru for many of his readers. Campbell took the idea from the Indian holy books, the Upanishads, in which the Sanskrit word for “bliss” is “ananda”. It may be pure coincidence that the inaugural Bangkok Art … More


White Rabbit: Supernatural

October 20, 2018

At a time when the United Nations has just issued an alarming report about the impact of climate change a new show at the White Rabbit Gallery looks at the transformations of nature in contemporary Chinese art. It’s a subject that took a radical turn when the Communist Party came to power in 1949. Prior … More


William Kentridge: That Which We Do Not Remember

October 12, 2018

There is nobody in the upper echelons of contemporary art quite like South Africa’s William Kentridge. There may be artists with more natural talent. There are plenty whose works sell for greater sums. There are artists with a much better feel for colour or texture, or who draw with greater fluency. Kentridge’s works are not … More


Steirischer Herbst 2018

October 4, 2018

In the words of Thomas Bernhard, Austria’s greatest novelist of the late 20th century, the city of Graz was “a nest of Nazis”. In a speech of last year, Georg Friedrich Haas, Austria’s foremost living composer, reeled off a list of Nazis that had remained faithful to the Führer in post-war Graz, including his own … More


Contemporary Istanbul 2018

September 27, 2018

Having left Sydney while one art fair was winding up, I arrived in Istanbul on the eve of another. Shortly afterwards came the news that Sydney Contemporary had secured $21 million in sales, an increase of $5 million on last year’s total. This comes at a time when dealers complain about declining visitation and how … More


6 Artists, 7 Days: The AWC Newhaven Exhibition

September 20, 2018

Cute kittens and puppies have been used to sell all sorts of products, but the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) is testing whether small marsupials can sell contemporary art. Check out the AWC website and you’ll find pictures of the Mala, AKA. the Rufus Hare-wallaby, a miniature fur-ball with dark eyes, big ears, whiskers and tiny … More


Sydney Contemporary 2018

September 14, 2018

This weekend is the high point of the year for the Sydney – and Australian – contemporary art scene. There may be some disagreement from folk in Melbourne, or from those who believe the Sydney Biennale remains the premier contemporary art event in this country. It’s clear though, the Sydney Contemporary art fair at Carriageworks … More


Sun Xun

September 7, 2018

It may be a legacy of those heroic efforts Chairman Mao demanded at the time of the Great Leap Forward, or perhaps it’s mainly down to pressure of competition, but the Chinese art scene has the most stupendous work ethic. Go to any exhibition at the White Rabbit Gallery and there will always be one … More


William Robinson: Genesis

August 31, 2018

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. Perhaps the strangest part in these famous words from the Book of Genesis is the emphasis on the word “was”. It makes God sounds like an audio … More


National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards 2018

August 23, 2018

A remarkable thing happened at this year’s 35th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT): the stand-out work actually won the major prize. The annual circus of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman may have given me a jaundiced view of art prizes, … More


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