Sydney Morning Herald Column

Masami Teraoka, Migration

June 2, 2012
Masami Teraoka: New Wave Series / Christine at Hanauma Bay 1992 watercolour on paper 56.5 x 75.0 cm

One of the strangest developments in the Sydney art scene is the sudden upsurge of galleries showing and selling high priced international art. This is surprising, given the fact that these are dismal times for retail and the art business is essentially retail with delusions of grandeur. There are only two explanations: either there are … More


Art Hong Kong 2012

May 26, 2012
Contemporary art installations at Art HK

Hong Kong is ideally located to take advantage an eastern economic boom that keeps defying western prophets of doom. Although it may sound scarcely believable, that defiant attitude is shared by leading western art dealers who have begun opening gigantic new spaces in a city long known as a cultural backwater. Those bad old days … More


Australian Symbolism

May 19, 2012
Rupert Bunny - "Pastoral", circa 1893, oil on canvas, 142 x 251cm

There are moments in art history that are fascinating to contemplate but irredeemably minor. This pretty much sums up Australian Symbolism, which plays a supporting role to Impressionist landscape and those paintings of a broadly nationalist persuasion that dominated art in this country in the decades leading up to the First World War. Symbolism in … More


The Clock, Marking Time

May 12, 2012
The Clock, 2010 single-channel video, 24 hours, photo by Christian Marclay

Switzerland gave us the cuckoo clock, and Swiss-American artist, Christian Marclay, has created the most preposterous time-piece in the history of art. The Clock is such a unique artifact it defies all but the most impressionistic responses. This is obvious from Zadie Smith’s essay in the brochure published for the work’s showing at the Museum … More


Janet Laurence

May 5, 2012
Cellular Gardens (Where Breathing Begins),stainless steel, mild steel, acrylic, blown glass, rainforest plants, dimensions variable

There is a certain moral cachet that comes with the label “environmental artist”. Janet Laurence seems to be simultaneously attracted to the description and slightly embarrassed. She realises that any form of categorisation is a potential trap, but if one simply must wear a label, well “environmental artist” is among the more attractive options. It … More


Salon des Refusés

April 28, 2012
Depiction of Geoffrey Lehmann by Tom Carment

In the brochure that accompanies this year’s Salon des Refusés at the S.H.Ervin Gallery, one reads that the show is “in the tradition of the renegade French Impressionists of the 1860s, who held a breakaway exhibition from the reactionary French Academy.” Leaving aside the fact that the term ‘Impressionism’ wasn’t used until the 1870s, this … More


Modern Woman

April 21, 2012
Edgar Degas, France 1834–1917 Seated dancer leaning forward, massaging her left foot c.1881–83 Pastel, brown paper backed with cardboard 62 x 49cm

Rather like its subject, Modern Woman is one of those exhibitions that must be approached with no fixed expectations, for it has the capacity to instill both disappointment and delight. Any event that includes names such as Degas, Bonnard, Renoir, Manet, Pissarro, Millet, Rodin, Vuillard and Toulouse-Lautrec, would seem to have ‘blockbuster’ written all over … More


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