Australian art

Farewell Stills

July 15, 2017
Last day at Stills. 4th, 5th & 6th from the left: Sandy Edwards, Kathy Freedman, Bronwyn Rennex

Twenty-six years is a long time to be running a commercial gallery, let alone a gallery specialising in photography. When Kathy Freedman and her partners close Stills Gallery in mid-July, it will spell the end of a long adventure in convincing Sydney audiences that photography is art. Stills began life in a Paddington terrace house … More


Wendy Loefler 1950-2017

July 7, 2017
Wendy Loefer, Last Light, from the sequence, Elsewhere (2015-17)

In the weeks leading up to her exhibition at Australian Galleries in Melbourne, Wendy Loefler emailed me about the work she had been doing over the past two years. “It’s fairly unusual and considerably more ambitious than my usual fare. I’m making one continuous immersive desert landscape in the round, on twelve abutting large canvasses.” … More


O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism

July 7, 2017
Margaret Preston, Implement blue (1927)

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


Elisabeth Cummings

June 6, 2017
Elisabeth Cummings, 'Edge of the Simpson Desert (Diptych) (2011)

In the annals of Australian art Elisabeth Cummings was an almost invisible presence for the first 30 years of her career. The story would change in the early 1990s when she began to attract serious attention from private collectors, who are always quicker off the mark than public institutions. After a slow start, partly due … More


Tracey in Venice

May 13, 2017
Tracey Moffatt, from the series, Body Remembers (2017)

Success at the Venice Biennale, the world’s biggest, most prestigious art event, may be measured in many different ways. One is the length of the queue that extends from the doorway of a national paviliion, making viewers wonder if they can bear to waste an hour standing in the sun. But hey, if so many … More


John Olsen: The You Beaut Country

October 7, 2016
John Olsen, 'Where the bee sucks, there suck I' (1984-86)

John Olsen has always been larger-than-life – a quality that has fostered both adulation and irritation. In the 1950s when he was still searching for a direction, Olsen did some thinking about the nature of art. “If it’s not a game there’s something wrong,” he concluded. According to his biographer, Darleen Bungey, this would become … More


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


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


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


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