Sydney Morning Herald Column

Thomas Demand, Gonkar Gyatso

April 14, 2012
Thomas Demand, Daily #7, 2008, Dye Transfer Print, 84.7 x 77.7cm (framed)

There have been 24 previous Kaldor Public Art Projects in Sydney, but never anything so cool and oblique as Thomas Demand’s The Dailies 2012. The work is not installed in a gallery, but in the Commercial Travellers’ Association Club, in the MLC Centre, just off Martin Place. The unconventional venue is an essential part of … More


New MCA

April 7, 2012
Exterior of the new MCA on Circular Quay

A new Museum of Contemporary Art has been a long time coming. This weekend the public can take a first look and see if the wait has been worthwhile. My own verdict, after an intensive preview, is that it is a qualified success. Some would argue we have been waiting ever since John Wardell Power’s … More


Archibald Prize 2012

March 31, 2012
Martin Sharp, The thousand dollar bill, acrylic on canvas on plywood,183 x 153cm

At that dreaded time of year when the Archibald Prize rolls around, the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW strap on their armour and prepare to be criticised, condemned, lampooned and humiliated. Admittedly they often bring this fate on themselves by their choice of a show or a winner. The only difference this time … More


Mike Parr, Denise Green, Art Month

March 24, 2012
Mike Parr, Islands of the Dead, 2004, carborundum relief, hand coloured from plywood on 4 sheets of Velin Arches 400 gsm paper, 250 x 480cm, unique state

Three weeks in, Art Month keeps rolling. The wine is still being sipped, the eager crowds scramble from one gallery to the next; the chatter is relentless. There’s always something else to say about Art, even if each new pronouncement tends to contradict the previous one. The unresolved issue hanging over this collective love-in for … More


William Kentridge: Five Themes & A Universal Archive (Parts 7-23)

March 17, 2012
William Kentridge, Five Themes, 840 x 646

“Thinking against oneself,” was a phrase used by the German philosopher, Theodor W. Adorno, whose late work was filled with melancholy reflections on the Holocaust. He was referring to the Nazis, who clung to a set of beliefs that allowed them to divide humanity up into a master race and a disposable remainder. This is … More


Parallel Collisions: The 2012 Adelaide Biennial

March 10, 2012
Tim Silver, 'Untitled' (object), 2011-12.

“We love language,” confessed the curators of Parallel Collisions: the 12th Adelaide Biennial. This may not sound controversial – for the purposes of communication it’s very useful. It was only as I read through the boxed, brick-heavy catalogue for this exhibition that I began to feel Natasha Bullock and Alexie Glass-Kantor may love language not … More


Russell Drysdale: The Drawings

March 3, 2012
Russell Drysdale, Church and Buildings, Hill End,1948

When Lou Klepac tells us that Russell Drysdale “was always reluctant to get on with painting or even drawing,” it is the merest understatement. Of all the Australian artists who have made a lasting contribution to the national culture, Drysdale was the least driven by either ambition or compulsion. This year is the hundredth anniversary … More


Love Lace

February 25, 2012
Alice Vokac,First Day Wonder -Lace panel: bobbin lace in cotton and silk threads,195 x 265 x 2 mm

Over the past few years the Powerhouse Museum has attracted plenty of critics, but turn up on a Saturday and the place is full of people. Does this mean the criticisms are baseless – the mere bleating of snobs and elitists? Well no, actually. Since its grand opening in 1988, the building has always been … More


Fred Sandback; Wim Delvoye; Abstract Canvas; Philip King

February 18, 2012
Wim Delvoye: Dump Truck (scale model 1:4,75), 2010 lasercut corten steel 200 × 47 × 69cm

Over the years Andrew Jensen has edged his way north, starting in Christchurch, moving to Wellington, on to Auckland, and last year crossing national lines and arriving in Sydney. What makes the Jensen Gallery unusual is that the exhibition program consists of 70-80 per cent international art – the kind of art we normally only … More


Geoff Dyer, Stephen Bird, Etsuko Fukaya, Joanna Braithwaite

February 11, 2012
Stephen Bird, Eliza Day, 2011

When Thoreau wrote: “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”, he probably wasn’t thinking about art dealers. Yet the phrase springs to mind when one considers the sluggishness of the commercial art scene over the past couple of years. While the art market weathered the GFC better than was generally expected, an extended … More