Sydney Morning Herald Column

Pablo Picasso & the Dobell Prize for Drawing 2011

December 10, 2011
Anne Judell, Breath (triptych), pastel, graphite

According to Hendrik Kolenberg, the Art Gallery of NSW’s Senior Curator of Australian Prints, Drawings and Watercolours, the Dobell Prize for Drawing is the most serious art award in Australia. This doesn’t mean the show is all grey and humourless, it is essentially a comment on the medium. Drawing is the armature of an artist’s … More

Picasso- Five Highlights

December 8, 2011
Michael Sima, "Picasso and Samuel Kootz in Picasso's Studio", Paris, 1947 . Photograph. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

It is difficult to choose only five works from an exhibition which covers all the major periods in Picasso’s career, from the earliest days, through his Blue and Rose periods, his experiments with Cubism, the neo-classical pictures of the post-war years, his flirtation with Surrealism, and the variations of his later life. Neither should we … More

Tokujin Yoshioka, Shen Shaomin & Chun Kwang-Young

December 3, 2011
Tokujin Yoshioka, Waterfall installation

There is an emerging trend in town: slipper art, and it has nothing to do with the new Speaker in Federal Parliament. At two venues this week the viewer is asked to slip a protective covering over his or her shoes, so as not to soil the art. This is slightly at odds with the … More

Tim Storrier

November 26, 2011
Tim Storrier, Reflected Fireline, 1996

Pablo Picasso is not the only highly successful artist to imagine himself as an outsider. In Australian art, Timothy Austin Storrier presents a perfect case study. A 2000 monograph by Catherine Lumby was even called: Tim Storrier: The Art of the Outsider. If you’re wondering how someone as prominent as Storrier can imagine himself anywhere … More


November 24, 2011
Pablo Picasso, The Young Painter, oil on canvas, 1972. Musée Picasso.

Despite his long residence in France, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) always considered himself Spanish. To ignore this is to misunderstand the driving impulses behind so much of his work, as revealed in the landmark exhibition, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National de Picasso, Paris. We see the how powerful that Spanish aspect was, both for a … More

Sculpture by the Sea 2011

November 12, 2011
Simon McGrath, Who left the tap running?, Sculpture By The Sea, Bondi 2011

To see what Sculpture by the Sea is really all about, one needs to go on a weekend, when the walk between Bondi and Tamarama is teeming with people. For most exhibitions this is the worst scenario for viewing works, but with SXS the open-air setting means that no piece is ever rendered inaccessible. The … More

German idols

November 5, 2011

In Germany, Ai Weiwei is the new Joseph Beuys. I arrived at this conclusion in Berlin, after seeing an exhibition of film footage of Joseph Beuys in Japan, at the Hamburger Bahnhof; and a show of 220 photos by Ai Weiwei, at the Martin-Gropius Bau. I’ve been in Deutschland for a conference on the Chinese … More

The Portia Geach Memorial Award

October 29, 2011
Sophie Cape, Master and Commander. Mixed media on canvas, 208 x 286cm.

One of the small paradoxes of colonial Australian art is the question as to why there were so few notable female artists at a time when women art students continually outnumbered their male counterparts. Looking at photos of the graduating classes of the National Gallery of Victoria School in the late 1800s, there is always … More

Robert Malherbe, Rhys Lee, Peter Godwin & Guan Wei

October 22, 2011
Peter Godwin, Studio Interior/ Torricelli Mask, 2011, gouache and tempera on paper, 40 x 60cm

There is a romantic expectation that an artist will keep producing works that are wholly original. This can create a debilitating pressure, as some feel obliged to produce a new twist with every exhibition. But art is not created in a vacuum, and all artists take something from their predecessors. As Picasso is famously alleged … More


October 15, 2011
Li Wei, Hero-Chorus (2), 2010

Guanxi is a curious word. It is usually translated as  “contacts”, but there is no single English-language term that captures all the connotations it has for a Chinese speaker. Guanxi refers to a special kind of relationship between people whereby one may always be counted on to help the other. Such relationships are long-term and … More