Sydney Morning Herald Column

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Hyper Real

January 25, 2018

Hyper Real at the National Gallery of Australia is one of those exhibitions that must have seemed like a great idea at the time. Realism may appear to be the most obvious approach to making art, but it has been the exception rather than the rule throughout different cultures and epochs. The Seated Scribe of … More


Kathryn Del Barton: The Highway is a Disco

January 20, 2018

A friend in Melbourne thinks he’s found the key to the mysterious pictures of Del Kathryn Barton: Smarties. His theory goes that in the formative years of childhood Del had a desperate, unrequited desire for Smarties. As a result she has been compelled forever after to fill her paintings with these small, brightly coloured lollies. … More


Songlines

January 12, 2018

Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters is a show with a story – one of the oldest ever told in this country. It’s an R-rated tale of seven sisters being pursued by a lustful man who first appears in the Pilbara and follows them across the deserts of Western Australia to the very heart of the … More


Gareth Sansom: Transformer

December 30, 2017

Invited to nominate a masterpiece for a Radio National interview, Gareth Sansom decided to talk about Ingmar Bergman’s movie, The Seventh Seal (1957), which he first saw when he was 18 years old. Decades later he was still thinking about the film, making it the subject of large-scale paintings in 2007 and 2013. The Grim … More


NGV Triennial 2017

December 23, 2017

Melbourne has long been envious of the Sydney Biennale, which has just announced the artist list for its 21st iteration in 2018. At the opening of the inaugural NGV Triennial this week there was much talk of the one-and-only Melbourne International Biennial, held in 1999, under a title that in retrospect sounds a little tragic: … More


Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow

December 15, 2017

Yayoi Kusama has been the most hyperproductive of artists, but old age seems to have inspired even more prodigious feats. At 88-years-old her annual output of retrospectives, surveys, commercial exhibitions, public art projects and self-penned publications is mind-boggling. Most artists would feel pleased if they achieved as much during an entire lifetime. It helps, of … More


Pipilotti Rist: Sip My Ocean

December 8, 2017

“I will always be grateful to popular culture,” Pipilotti Rist told an interviewer in 2001. As a recent video clip by Beyoncé shows, popular culture should also be grateful to her. Pipilotti Rist: Sip my Ocean, at the Museum of Contemporary Art reveals the many and various ways this remarkable Swiss multi-media artist embraces popular … More


Rembrandt & the Dutch Golden Age

December 2, 2017

“There is one work by Vermeer, the undoubted superstar, and six by Rembrandt, including two from the NGV’s permanent collection. Three portraits by Frans Hals give some indication of this artist’s remarkable flair and dash. After that, it is a pot-pourri of genres and tendencies…” No, I’m not writing about Rembrandt & the Dutch Golden … More


The Unflinching Gaze

November 24, 2017

In the entire history of Australian regional galleries there has never been a show like The Unflinching Gaze: Photo Media & the Male Figure. Retiring director, Richard Perram, has decided to go out on a high note with a exhibition that has been years in preparation. Despite the double entendre in the title Perram doesn’t … More


Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium

November 17, 2017

It may be the acid test of political correctness but it should be possible to dislike Robert Mapplethorpe’s work without being viewed as homophobic. Mapplethorpe often said he didn’t wish to be known as a “gay artist”, but he is such an icon for the LGBT community it’s virtually impossible to dissociate his work from … More


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