Sydney Morning Herald Column

Art Basel in Hong Kong 2013

June 1, 2013
Yayoi Kusuma, Flame of Life — Dedicated to Tu-Fu (Du-Fu)

Hong Kong is said to have got its name from the smell of incense stored in warehouses by the waterfront. Nowadays in “the fragrant harbour” the dominant smell is that of money, and it’s a perfume most residents find highly agreeable. There was a certain tang in the air last week, as the increasingly successful … More


5th Auckland Triennial: If You Were to LIve Here…

May 25, 2013
Do Ho Suh, A Perfect Home: The Bridge Project,  2010, Auckland Art Gallery synchronised four-monitor animated digital slide presentation, two single-channel videos, sound 11:00min

After studying the recently announced theme for next year’s Sydney Biennale – “You Imagine what You Desire” – I’d like to suggest an alternative title, borrowed from a video by Singaporean artist, Ho Tzu Nyen – The Cloud of Unknowing. I know this was the name of a mystical tract from the late Middle Ages, … More


Monet’s Garden

May 18, 2013
Claude Monet, 1840–1926 Waterlilies, evening effect (Nymphéas, effet du soir) (1897, oil on canvas, 73.0 x 100.0 cm

Approaching the National Gallery of Victoria for Monet’s Garden, I expected to find the moat festooned in water lilies, and enter through an archway covered in climbing roses. The reality was slightly different: the same old bluestone façade, with red and blue Mazdas parked by the doors. After so many years of sponsorship, I’m conditioned … More


Jeff Wall

May 11, 2013
Jeff Wall, The Destroyed Room, Transparency in light box, 159 x 234cm

Even in this age of digital revolution most people will accept that a painting or a sculpture demands to be seen at first hand. Photographs, however, are a different matter. Not only are the works of every great photographer viewable on-line, they often look better in a large-format book than on the gallery wall. Not … More


Monet preview

May 4, 2013
Claude Monet, Waterlilies (Nymphéas), 1916–19, oil on canvas,150.0 x 197.0 cm

Paul Cézanne paid Claude Monet one of the most famous backhanded compliments in the history of art when he wrote: “Monet is just an eye, but good God, what an eye!”  (“Monet n’est qu’un oeil, mais bon Dieu, quel oeil!”) In his later years that eye failed the great Impressionist at a time when he … More


White Rabbit: Smash Palace

May 4, 2013
Zhou Jie, CBD, 2010

Every exhibition at White Rabbit, the Neilson family’s private museum of contemporary Chinese art, has featured at least one show-stopper. The tour-de-force in the current show, Smash Palace, is Cheng Dapeng’s Wonderful City (2011-12), a 9.6 metre-long 3D print. On a long, light-box table, Cheng has placed a scale model of a city overrun with … More


Zadok Ben-David & Adam Rish

April 27, 2013
Zadok Ben-David, The Other Side of Midnight - Installation View, 2013, hand painted stainless steel under UV light

It may be presumptuous to declare Anglo-Israeli artist, Zadok Ben-David a great sculptor, but there is no denying he is one of the great entertainers in world art. If you were to ask me: “What’s wrong with that?” I’d have to reply: “Nothing at all.” There is an air of sanctimony about much contemporary art, … More


Salon de Refusés 2013 & Jenny Sages

April 20, 2013
Jenny Sages, Irina Baranova (handing on the baton), 2007, oil and encaustic on board

This year’s Archibald Prize was one of the most even contests in decades, but also one of the least memorable. There have been pictures in previous competitions that would have romped home in this year’s field, but the luck and timing was with Del Kathryn Barton, not with the ghosts of Archibalds past. If there … More


13 Rooms

April 13, 2013
Damien Hirst, Hans, Georg,1992, performed by Curtis and Jeffrey Argent

In 1969 a young, enthusiastic art collector named John Kaldor sponsored a visit to Sydney by the renowned international artists, Christo and Jeanne Claude. The project that resulted was Wrapped Coast, which saw hundreds of volunteers working with the artists to wrap a rocky section of Little Bay. Wrapped Coast was the first ever Kaldor … More


South of no North

April 6, 2013
Laurence Aberhart, Vicksburg, Mississippi,

South of no North may seem an enigmatic title for an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, but a moment’s reflection provides clarity. The name of this show, which brings together the work of Laurence Aberhart, William Eggleston and Noel McKenna, is borrowed from a book of short stories by Charles Bukowski (1916-1994). This … More