Sydney Morning Herald Column

Din Q. Lê: Erasure, Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2011

August 27, 2011
Dinh Q. Lê Erasure, 2011 digital video (still) Courtesy the artist and Sàn Art Independent Artist Space, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

It was astonishing to learn that in a recent opinion poll Australians rated border protection as a more important issue than health, education, transport or housing. This is one of those statistical miracles that testify to our growing sense of social paranoia and the power of political scare campaigns. The facts are well known but … More


David Aspden

August 26, 2011
David Aspden untitled

Like Tom Roberts before him, David Aspden (1935-2005) was born in rural England and arrived in Australia around the age of fifteen. This is a time of life when the biggest part of one’s adult personality is already formed. Roberts, who grew up in the age of Empire, was never quite sure if he was … More


Saatchi Gallery in Adelaide: British Art Now

August 16, 2011
Idris Kahn, Every... Prison Type Gasholders

Ever since Sensation hit the headlines in 1997, contemporary British Art has been synonymous with scandal. When the show appeared at the Royal Academy in London, the catalyst was Marcus Harvey’s huge portrait of the murderess, Myra Hindley, made from hundreds of children’s handprints. In Brooklyn, two years later, the flashpoint was Chris Ofili’s The … More


Edmund Capon & his legacy

August 3, 2011
Photo: Nick Moir, SMH

This won’t be the first or last time that someone declares Edmund Capon a hard act to follow. In his thirty-one years as director of the Art Gallery of NSW, Capon has taken a provincial, down-at-heel institution and turned it into a Grade-A showcase for Australian and international art. Yet he leaves at time when … More


Lucian Freud 1922 – 2011

July 31, 2011
Lucien Freud, Reflection (Self Portrait)

With the passing of Lucian Freud, British art has lost not only one of its great painters, but a legendary conversationalist. Perhaps it was a skill acquired while staring at people for hours in the studio, deciding whether or not to put a microscopic dab of paint on the end of a nose. Freud’s anecdotes, … More


Surrealism at GoMA

July 30, 2011
Rene Magritte, Les marches de l'ete ( The summer steps) (detail) 1938

“This life is a hospital in which every patient is tormented by the yearning to move to another bed. – André Breton It’s probably been said many times, but Queensland is a highly appropriate setting for a Surrealism show. Not only does one meet the most surreal personalities north of the border, only a few … More


Margaret Olley 1923 – 2011: An Appreciation

July 25, 2011
margaret-olley-archibald

“Hurry, hurry, last days!” Margaret Olley would cry when someone tried to involve her in another hopeful project. It usually involved Margaret making a donation of some sort, or simply gracing an event with her presence. At the end she found it easier to write a cheque rather than face a room full of people … More


Eugene von Guérard

July 23, 2011
Eugene Von Guerard NGV

In the entire history of Australian art, no painter has ever been through greater extremes of adulation and neglect than Eugene von Guérard (1811-1901). In the 1860s he was recognised as the finest landscapist in the colony, but by the 1870s his reputation was in decline. In the following century he was all but forgotten. … More


Tell Me Tell Me

July 22, 2011
U-Fan Lee, From A Line

This is an exhibition that generates a profound sympathy for those critics who had to review art in the 1970s. If the seventies was the decade fashion forgot, it was also a time that lost faith in art, seeing it as a specious commodity that had to be brought down from its pedestal and dragged … More


The Poetry of Drawing

July 15, 2011
Edward Robert Hughes (1851-1914) ‘Oh, what’s that in the hollow, so pale, I quake to follow?’ ‘Oh, that’s a thin dead body, which waits the eternal term.’, 1893, Watercolour with gum and scratching-out on paper, Royal Watercolour Society

Britain’s historic love of the written word has tended to overshadow all other cultural expressions. Shakespeare or Charles Dickens may be universally admired, but try to name a notable British composer for the period from the death of Henry Purcell in 1695, to the rise of Edward Elgar, (b. 1857). The visual arts have been … More