Sydney Morning Herald Column

1020<>40  50  

Song Dong

February 9, 2013

There are many ways to make a portrait of one’s mother. Probably the most famous example is James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s painting of his old mum sitting in a chair, looking a stiff as an Egyptian statue. He titled the picture: Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (1875). In Waste Not, one of the … More


J.M.W. Turner: A Preview

February 2, 2013

“Soapsuds and whitewash,” they said. “Portraits of nothing and very like.” In the manner of the Biblical prophet, not without honour, but in his own country, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) spent his entire career being insulted and derided by British commentators. Although we think of him today as the greatest of all British artists, … More


Candice Breitz: The Character

February 2, 2013

It’s hard to stand out from the crowd in an exhibition such as the Venice Biennale, in which hundreds, possibly thousands of works are competing for the attentions of the cognoscenti. If you manage this feat, your career prospects as contemporary artist take a sharp turn to the north. Candice Breitz was born in Johannesburg … More


Anish Kapoor

January 26, 2013

Some artists have greatness thrust upon them, others keep waiting but it never seems to turn up. Even if you are among that select group of the rich and famous, with every museum and collector clamouring for your latest creation, there is no guarantee it will make life easier. Material success has a strange tendency … More


Radiance: The Neo-Impressionists

January 19, 2013

Georges Seurat is a member of that small, unfortunate group of artists who were destined for greatness but died prematurely. When Seurat was carried off by malignant diphtheria in 1891, at the age of 31, modern art lost one of its most remarkable innovators. It is a loss that bears comparison to that of Masaccio, … More


Angus Nivison: A Survey

January 12, 2013

For those of us who spend their lives going in and out of art galleries there’s nothing better than being surprised. Before entering Angus Nivison’s survey at the S.H. Ervin Gallery I felt entirely familiar with this artist’s work. I’d even written a preface for the catalogue when the exhibition debuted at the Tamworth Regional … More


Toulouse-Lautrec & the Moulin Rouge

January 5, 2013

“The more you see Toulouse-Lautrec the bigger he gets.” Jules Renard   Many will have formed a lasting impression of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), from John Huston’s Hollywood pot-boiler, Moulin Rouge (1952), in which José Ferrer spends the entire film waddling around on his knees, speaking in strings of bons mots. Watching this film again … More


7th Asia Pacific Triennial

December 22, 2012

Bad acronym of the year is undoubtedly QAGOMA. To spell it out that means: Queensland Art Gallery Of Modern Art, which is irredeemable. One hopes that vast sums of money have not been spent on the rebranding process, because this new title should be binned before too many people notice. It might be a first … More


Shen Jiawei: Brothers and Sisters

December 15, 2012

In the mythology of Maoist China no event is more important than The Long March. It is the foundation story of the People’s Republic even if there is no separating fact from fiction. The March began in October 1934 when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was driven out of the small republic it had established … More


Jun Chen, John Walker & Shona Wilson

December 8, 2012

Artwork of the week, on a trip around the commercial venues, was Michael Callaghan’s AK47 – Weapon of Choice, at the Damien Minton Gallery. A three metre-high machine gun, made from 17 layers of candy-coloured plywood, this monument to murder leant nonchalantly against a wall in an exhibition called Merchants of Death. It was a … More


1020<>40  50