Sydney Morning Herald Column

Arthur Streeton & Kevin Lincoln

May 27, 2016
Kevin Lincoln, Pan and bowl, 2007, oil on canvas on board, on board 31.5 x 35.5cm. Private collection, © Kevin Lincoln / licensed by Viscopy, 2016

“If we so choose we can yet be the elect of the world, the last of the pastoralists, the thoroughbred Aryans in all their nobility.” These words were penned by J.S.MacDonald in the special Arthur Streeton Number of Art in Australia, October 1931. At the time MacDonald was director of the National Art Gallery of New … More


White Rabbit: Heavy Artillery & Cang Xin

May 20, 2016
Xu Zhen (produced by MadeIn Co), European Thousand-Armed Classical Sculpture, 2014.

There has never been a centralised, authoritarian form of government that encourages diversity. This is why alarm bells should start ringing when our own leaders want to keep centralising power – amalgamating local councils under the leadership of unelected administrators; putting a town’s art gallery, museum and theatre under the jurisdiction of a single “cultural … More


Jan Senbergs

May 12, 2016
Jan SENBERGS, Altered Parliament House 1, 1976, 
synthetic polymer paint and oil screenprint on canvas
182.5 x 243.5 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Presented by Mrs Adrian Gibson as the winner of the 1976 Sir William Angliss Memorial Art Prize, 1977
A25-1977 © Jan Senbergs/Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia

There is one painting in Jan Senbergs: Observation – Imagination at the National Gallery of Victoria that should strike a chord with every true artist. The Swimmer (1995) shows a small figure battling his way through dark, choppy waves, with no shoreline in sight. It conjures up those moments in the studio when inspiration disappears, … More


Head On 2016

May 6, 2016
Daniella Zalcman's Signs of Your Identity @ Festival Hub Central

Sydney loves grand, all-encompassing events, and Head On has become one of the most eagerly awaited festivals in the cultural calendar. This year’s show is distributed among 60 public and private venues spread throughout the city, the suburbs, and other parts of the state. Twenty major international photographers will be participating in talks and workshops … More


Guy Warren

April 29, 2016
Guy Warren, Bathers (2), 1957

Guy Warren is the best proof that a positive attitude is the secret of eternal youth. Having just turned 95, Warren seems as vital as ever. I’ve known him for about 30 years and he hardly seems to have changed. He’s still painting and drawing, still driving, still alert and articulate. He’s one of those … More


Ink Remix & Mikhael Subotzky

April 22, 2016
YAO Jui-chung, Yao's Journey to Australia. 2015, biro, blue ink with gold leaf on India handmade paper, 195 x 539 cm.

Mention Chinese art and most people think of brush-and-ink painting, a medium that has been around for at least 2,000 years. The image that springs to mind is of a craggy mountain with a sprinkling of equally contorted trees. The scene may be wreathed in mist, with a tiny sage perched on a ledge. In … More


William Yaxley & Edwin Wilson

April 14, 2016
William Yaxley, 'Listening to the Rolling Stones (Yeppoon)',1986, oil on composition board, 63.5 x 64 cm, University of Queensland, purchased 2011

This job entails constant requests to open exhibitions but most are politely declined. So it was rare for me, last week, to undertake openings on successive nights in two different parts of the country. The first was a survey by Edwin Wilson at that proudly unfashionable venue, the Royal Art Society, Lavender Bay. The second … More


Roger Ballen

April 7, 2016
'I Fink U Freeky' by Die Antwoord (still)

In the earliest maps of the world cartographers would fill the gaps in their knowledge with pictures of men with their faces in their chests, or a creature using one gigantic foot as an umbrella. An inscription would read: “Here be monsters”. This could serve as the title of any exhibition by Roger Ballen, although … More


Art Basel Hong Kong 2016

March 31, 2016
Wang Huaiqing, 'Chinese Emperor 6', 2015, Tina Keng Gallery

“I hope you enjoy it,” said Marc Spiegler, Global Director of Art Basel, making his usual attempt to convince a cynical group of journalists that Art Basel Hong Kong 2016 was all about art, not money. “Well it seems to get a little better every year,” I replied with cautious optimism. “Oh, I think you’ll … More


Biennale of Sydney 2016

March 23, 2016
Ming Wong, 'Windows On The World (Part 1)', 2014, mixed ... rkshop, Hong Kong. Photograph: Glenn Eugen Ellingsen

There’s a lot to like about the 20th Biennale of Sydney, but it isn’t necessarily the art. Curator Stephanie Rosenthal, born in Germany but employed by the Hayward Gallery in London, has proven herself to be one of the most committed of all Biennale directors. Previous incumbents have tended to fly into Australia for quick … More