Sydney Morning Herald Column

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Mooi Indie

August 30, 2014

Countries in the throes of social change always produce the most exciting contemporary art. This has been true of China for the past two decades, and it is one of the less recognised outcomes of South Korea’s economic miracle. On the other hand, in places like Australia or Scandinavia – well represented in this year’s … More


Melbourne Art Fair 2014

August 23, 2014

Art dealers in Australia have an image problem. Every time a high profile art fraud comes to court, as in the recent case of a dud Albert Tucker painting, there is a mass of lurid publicity. We hear shocking stories about the prevalence of fakes, shady dealers, unreliable auction practices and double-dipping art consultants. It … More


Saltwater Country

August 16, 2014

‘Country’ is the most fundamental concept in the Aboriginal lexicon, but also the most misunderstood. The indigenous feeling for country is far more spiritual than sentimental. It’s a distinction that’s scarcely comprehensible to those of us who believe identity consists of what we make of ourselves, regardless of our place of origin. The Hollywood version … More


Salon des Refusés 2014

August 9, 2014

So much has already been written about Sydney’s $9.3 million public sculpture proposals that I’m in two minds whether to comment or leave it alone. Nevertheless, it’s an issue that won’t go away. It’s depressing that the very idea of a city council spending money on art brings out the philistine in a large proportion … More


Tabaimo

August 2, 2014

It would be fascinating to try and understand why some cultures are fixated on one artform more than others. The period we call the Golden Age in the Netherlands, which spanned the 17th century, produced one of history’s greatest flowerings of the visual arts but little in the way of notable literature or music. Britain, … More


Harvest

July 26, 2014

In the latest issue of The Art Newspaper, the front page story is about international über-curator, Germano Celant, who is organising an exhibition for Milan’s Expo 2015 on the relationship between art and food. “Ho hum,” you think, but the truly startling fact is Celant’s fee of €750,000 (AUD$ 1,079,840). At 2-3 times the annual … More


Archibald Prize 2014

July 19, 2014

Imagine if the Archibald Prize banned all portraits that relied on photographs. The number of entries would drop from 884 to something less than 100, while the exhibition would be dominated by amateurs and unknown artists. Even the subjects would be strangers to most viewers because it’s unlikely that anyone mildly famous could spare the … More


Theatre of Dreams, Theatre of Play

July 12, 2014

We’ve become accustomed to the idea that various species of animal are in danger of extinction and need to be preserved, but cultural forms are subject to analogous pressures. Commercial logic dictates that a species of theatre or performance will exist only when there is a paying audience. Many traditional forms owe their longevity to … More


Home

July 5, 2014

Taiwanese artist, Chien-Chi Chang, introduces his photo sequence, The Chain, with a quotation from Dostoyevsky’s Diary of a Writer: “It is not by confining one’s neighbour that one is convinced of one’s own sanity.” He almost certainly found the line in the preface to Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilisation (1964), where it is paired with … More


Arthur Boyd: An Active Witness

June 28, 2014

Arthur Boyd (1920-99) was one of Australian art’s leading painters and one of its greatest mysteries. In the preface to her comprehensive biography, published in 2007, Darleen Bungey quotes Boyd’s youngest daughter, Polly, who calls her father “an enigma, probably one of the most secret people on earth.” This also acts as a disclaimer for … More


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