Art Gallery of NSW

Nongirrna Marawili

January 18, 2019

A talking point with the Tony Tuckson show at the Art Gallery of NSW is that the artist’s first solo exhibition came at the age of 48. Most of today’s art students would probably think anyone who leaves it so late must be doomed to failure. At nearly 50, surely one should be thinking about … More


Tony Tuckson: The Abstract Sublime

January 11, 2019

In a review of Tony Tuckson’s second and final solo exhibition, held at Watters Gallery in April, 1973, James Gleeson spoke of a “rare, wild energy that is without parallel in Australian painting.” Four decades later that claim still holds true. Over the years there have been plenty of artists who qualify as ‘Abstract Expressionists’ … More


William Kentridge: That Which We Do Not Remember

October 12, 2018

There is nobody in the upper echelons of contemporary art quite like South Africa’s William Kentridge. There may be artists with more natural talent. There are plenty whose works sell for greater sums. There are artists with a much better feel for colour or texture, or who draw with greater fluency. Kentridge’s works are not … More


John Russell: Australia’s French Impressionist

August 10, 2018

If Australian art history were a jigsaw puzzle John Russell would be the piece that doesn’t quite fit. It’s now commonplace to talk of “Australian Impressionists” but Russell is the only artist who genuinely matches the description. Everybody else, from Streeton and Roberts to McCubbin and Fox, pursued a version of Impressionism that owed a … More


The Archibald Prize 2018

May 11, 2018

Well I got it completely wrong this year, although Vincent Namatjira got a “highly commended” as runner-up. Yvette Coppersmith’s Archibald Prize winner: Self-portrait after George Lambert wouldn’t have been in my top 20. After due consideration, it still wouldn’t be in my top 20. It seems to me like a stiff, mannered picture that bears … More


The Lady and the Unicorn

April 20, 2018

Towards the end of Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll stages a furious battle between a lion and a unicorn. The fight is based on an old nursery rhyme, which plays on the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, in which the lion stands for England, the unicorn for Scotland. The lion and … More


Rembrandt & the Dutch Golden Age

December 2, 2017

“There is one work by Vermeer, the undoubted superstar, and six by Rembrandt, including two from the NGV’s permanent collection. Three portraits by Frans Hals give some indication of this artist’s remarkable flair and dash. After that, it is a pot-pourri of genres and tendencies…” No, I’m not writing about Rembrandt & the Dutch Golden … More


Salon des Refusés 2017

August 3, 2017

Every year I nurture a dim fantasy of a Salon des Refusés bristling with masterpieces rejected from the Archibald and Wynne Prizes by the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW. Every year I relinquish this thought almost as soon as I step into the S.H.Ervin Gallery. The Refusés was a great idea when it … More


The 2017 Archibald Prize

July 28, 2017

By the usual Archibald Prize standards 2017 is a low key year. There are plenty of neat, correct entries, a touch of quirkiness, a bit of thick impasto, but nothing to get the pulse racing with delight or indignation. Unless, perhaps, you’re a lunatic right-winger who starts to foam at the mouth at the merest … More


O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism

July 7, 2017

There are exhibitions that sound marvellous in theory but somehow fail to measure up when they make it to the gallery walls. O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism at the Art Gallery of NSW is an almost perfect example. As one of those projects that puts Australian artists on equal terms with a better known … More