Art Gallery of NSW

Theatre of Dreams, Theatre of Play

July 12, 2014

We’ve become accustomed to the idea that various species of animal are in danger of extinction and need to be preserved, but cultural forms are subject to analogous pressures. Commercial logic dictates that a species of theatre or performance will exist only when there is a paying audience. Many traditional forms owe their longevity to … More


Bill Brown

May 3, 2014

Many years ago, when I was still a baby art critic, I remember Bill Brown at a party bawling drunkenly that he was the best painter in Australia. Having never seen his work I was in no position to argue. Shortly afterwards, Brown had a solo exhibition at the old Macquarie Galleries. If he was … More


Afghanistan

April 26, 2014

“After Akcha,” wrote Robert Byron, in his legendary travel book, The Road to Oxiana (1937) “the colour of the landscape changed from lead to aluminium, pallid and deathly, as if the sun had been sucking away at its gaiety for thousands and thousands of years; for this was now the plain of Balkh, and Balkh … More


19th Biennale of Sydney

March 29, 2014

Biennales thrive on controversy but there is a feeling of unease about this year’s headlines. No-one envisaged artists boycotting the Biennale because the founding sponsor has government contracts to manage detention centres. It was no cause for celebration when Transfield’s Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, one the few dedicated patrons of the arts in corporate Australia, felt obliged … More


Richard Goodwin

March 8, 2014

If you have driven along the Gore Hill Freeway you have already experienced the art of Richard Goodwin. The abstract patterns incised on the concrete, sound-baffling walls are taken from designs by architect, Walter Burley Griffin; the transcriptions of Aboriginal rock carvings pay homage to the area’s first inhabitants. It’s a typical Goodwin project: scrupulous … More


Sol LeWitt

March 1, 2014

“Soulless Twit!” was the verdict from one local art identity, when I mentioned Sol LeWitt: Your mind is exactly at that line, at the Art Gallery of NSW. It’s a harsh call because LeWitt may not be the most expressive of artists but his precise, geometric work has that appeal we associate with anything so … More


Sculpture City

February 15, 2014

As proven by the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions sculpture enjoys a widespread popularity, but this doesn’t translate into a thriving market. It remains much harder to sell a sculpture than a painting, as private buyers tend to view sculptures as large, cumbersome objects that have no place in the domestic environment. The pieces … More


2013: The Best & Worst of the Visual Arts

January 6, 2014

My best art experience of the year happened on the other side of the planet, in a retrospective celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edvard Munch. The show, divided between the National Gallery and the Munch Museum in Olso, revealed an unrelenting intensity of vision. It featured the most complete collection of paintings … More


America: Painting a Nation

November 23, 2013

“Thus in the beginning,” wrote the philosopher, John Locke in 1689, “all the world was America.” He was referring to a primitive state of social organisation being rapidly improved by British colonialism. Nowadays Locke’s words seem just as true, but it is because America has colonised the rest of the world. For much of the … More


Renaissance to Goya

September 21, 2013

Illustrious artists such as Velásquez, Zurbarán, Ribera, Tiepolo and Goya are advertised on a sign at the entrance to Renaissance to Goya at the Art Gallery of NSW. Unfortunately they are hidden in a long roll call of names that will be largely unknown to the general public. Not many Australian art lovers are hanging … More