Sydney Morning Herald Column

Jonathan Jones: Barrangal Dyara

September 22, 2016
Prototype ceramic shields on site at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. Photo: Emma Pike/Kaldor Public Art Projects

Jonathan Jones’s Barrangal Dyara (Skin and Bones) is one of the most ambitious art projects ever seen in this city, and one of the most ephemeral. It acts as a massive aide-memoire to public consciousness, reminding us of what has been buried and forgotten within little more than a century. Yet the physical form of … More


Marion Borgelt & Paul Selwood

September 17, 2016
Paul Selwood's Green Mountain

Ever since mayor, Jeff McCloy, decided that Newcastle Art Gallery couldn’t afford a renovation and didn’t need a director, the place has been as lively as a wet weekend in Miami. This has been a disaster for one of Australia’s leading regional galleries. Perhaps only Ballarat and Bendigo could claim to have more important collections, … More


Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial 2016

September 10, 2016
Noel McKenna Animals I have known 2015-16 © Noel McKenna

In its first incarnation the Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial concentrated on landscape. For the second Biennial, subtitled Close to Home, curator Anne Ryan has come up with something much cooler, namely “narrative based on memory and experience”. This must be why nobody could tell me the theme of this year’s show when I asked. “It’s … More


Francesco Clemente

September 2, 2016

No contemporary artist could be more elusive than Francesco Clemente, who was born in Italy in 1952 but divides his time between homes in New York and Varanasi. Although his output has been voluminous over the past 40 years it would be hard to point to any single picture and say it was his masterpiece. … More


Jompet Kuswidananto & Katthy Cavaliere

August 25, 2016
Jompet Kuswidananto's 'After Voices' at SCAF Sydney.

“Within the crowd there is equality,” wrote Elias Canetti, in his compelling, eccentric book, Crowds and Power (1960). “All demands for justice and all theories of equality ultimately derive their energy from the actual experience of equality familiar to anyone who has been part of a crowd.” Yet within that feeling of equality generated by … More


Scorsese

August 18, 2016
Martin Scorsese. © Brigitte Lacombe

In The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Martin Scorsese drew on a painting by Hieronymus Bosch showing the grotesque faces of spectators watching the carrying of the Cross. The image is a mild surprise in the Scorsese exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne. Most of the display feels rooted in … More


Art Stage Jakarta

August 12, 2016
Art Stage Jakarta: Taking Indonesian Art Global

For over a decade Indonesia has been the worst-kept secret in contemporary art. The wave has been building and breaking since 1998 when the repressive reign of President Suharto came to an end. Yet the origins of the movement go much further back, before the fragile roots of democracy could take hold. In the past … More


Salon des Refusés 2016

August 5, 2016
Glenn Morgan's 'Self-portrait in shed'.

Émile Zola gave us a vivid, barely-fictionalised account of the first Salon des Refusés, in his novel, L’Oeuvre (AKA. The Masterpiece): “He could see the visitors’ mouths gaping, their eyes narrowing, from the moment they passed the door; across the room, a group of young people were staggering back against the archway as if someone … More


Degas

July 28, 2016
Edgar Degas
Group of dancers (red skirts) (Groupe de danseuses (Jupes rouges)) 1895–1900
pastel
77.0 x 58.0 cm
Lent by Glasgow Life (Glasgow Museums) on behalf of Glasgow City Council: from the Burrell Collection with the approval of the Burrell Trustees (35.243) © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

Degas had a dread of publicity and an intense dislike of journalists. “Those people trap you in your bed,” he grumbled, “strip off your shirt, corner you in the street, and when you complain, they say: ‘You belong to the public.’” Almost a hundred years after his death, Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834-1917) has become public property … More


Frida and Diego

July 22, 2016
Frida Kahlo Diego on my mind (Self-portrait as Tehuana) 1943 The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of Mexican Art © 2016 Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico DF

When 22-year-old Frida Kahlo married 42-year-old Diego Rivera in August 1929, her parents described it as the union of a dove and an elephant. This may have been a fair description of the newlyweds’ physical attributes, but Diego was also an elephant in terms of his public profile while Frida seemed as quiet as a … More