Sydney Morning Herald Column

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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


Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale 2018

August 17, 2018

It’s often said that the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale could only happen in Japan. In terms of sheer scale it is the largest contemporary exhibition in the world, spread across 760 square kms of the mountainous regions of Niigata prefecture. This year is the seventh incarnation of a project intended to help revitalise an area that … More


John Russell: Australia’s French Impressionist

August 10, 2018

If Australian art history were a jigsaw puzzle John Russell would be the piece that doesn’t quite fit. It’s now commonplace to talk of “Australian Impressionists” but Russell is the only artist who genuinely matches the description. Everybody else, from Streeton and Roberts to McCubbin and Fox, pursued a version of Impressionism that owed a … More


The Journey of Time

August 2, 2018

When James Abbott McNeill Whistler defended himself in court by saying that a dashed-off oil sketch represented the knowledge he had “gained in the work of a lifetime” he gave every lazy artist an excuse to feel important, and unwittingly established battle lines between art and craft. Nowadays it’s broadly accepted that one may create … More


John Mawurndjul: I Am the Old and the New

July 27, 2018

This year’s best exhibition title is: John Mawurndjul: I Am the Old and the New. A landmark retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the show demonstrates the paradox of bark painting: as one of the oldest forms of artistic expression and something completely new. This was inconceivable to the organisers of the Cologne Art … More


MoMA at NGV

July 23, 2018

Museums have an historical mission to preserve a cultural legacy and bring it before the public. It’s a goal shared by all such insititutions, big or small, but there are huge disparities between the leading international museums and their aspirational counterparts. For the art of the 20th century the Museum of Modern Art in New … More


Riyoji Ikeda & Daniel Buren

July 13, 2018

Artists are forever striving to show us the world in a new light but not many can claim to be “probing the fundamental structure of the universe.” This is the domain of science and, more specifically, of CERN – the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, located on the border of France and Switzerland. In 2014-15, … More


RAW: Wedderburn

July 5, 2018

There is no fixed definition of an ‘artists’ colony’ although there are numerous examples spread across the globe. Some are run like businesses, others are no more than clusters of like-minded Bohemians. The prototype of the modern artists’ colony is probably Worpswede, 28 kms from Bremen in northern Germany, which has been a haven for … More


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