Australian art

Philip Wolfhagen

July 13, 2013
Phillip Wolfhagen, Past the dead wattle no. 1’, 2009, oil & beeswax on linen, 46 x 49cm

To appreciate the art of Philip Wolfhagen one must be tolerant of repetition. Few Australian artists are more devoted to the serial approach to painting: fastening on to a particular motif, making small changes in colour and tone on successive canvases until the theme is exhausted. For Wolfhagen’s fans the process is mesmeric, for his … More

Jeffrey Smart 1921-2013

June 22, 2013
Jeffrey Smart, Cahill Expressway, 1962, oil on plywood, 81.9 x 111.3 cm

Although he assumed an imposing stature in his later years, Jeffrey Smart was a grafter not a dasher. A careful, methodical craftsman, he had little respect for painters such as Sidney Nolan who might produce dozens of canvases in a week. For Smart a painting had to be constructed with the same care that an … More

South of no North

April 6, 2013
Laurence Aberhart, Vicksburg, Mississippi,

South of no North may seem an enigmatic title for an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, but a moment’s reflection provides clarity. The name of this show, which brings together the work of Laurence Aberhart, William Eggleston and Noel McKenna, is borrowed from a book of short stories by Charles Bukowski (1916-1994). This … More

Angus Nivison: A Survey

January 12, 2013
Angus Nivison, Summer Cotton Bimbang, 2009, Acrylic, charcoal, pigments and gesso on canvas, 200 x 360cm

For those of us who spend their lives going in and out of art galleries there’s nothing better than being surprised. Before entering Angus Nivison’s survey at the S.H. Ervin Gallery I felt entirely familiar with this artist’s work. I’d even written a preface for the catalogue when the exhibition debuted at the Tamworth Regional … More

Shen Jiawei: Brothers and Sisters

December 15, 2012
Shen Jiawei, Shen's Brothers and Sisters Part 1: Revolution (2010-2012), features 128 figures

In the mythology of Maoist China no event is more important than The Long March. It is the foundation story of the People’s Republic even if there is no separating fact from fiction. The March began in October 1934 when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was driven out of the small republic it had established … More

Jun Chen, John Walker & Shona Wilson

December 8, 2012
Shona Wilson, Exhibit M-(25 000 AD), Processed found plastic and natural material, 55 x 65 x 20

Artwork of the week, on a trip around the commercial venues, was Michael Callaghan’s AK47 – Weapon of Choice, at the Damien Minton Gallery. A three metre-high machine gun, made from 17 layers of candy-coloured plywood, this monument to murder leant nonchalantly against a wall in an exhibition called Merchants of Death. It was a … More

J.W.Power Abstraction-Création Paris 1934

December 1, 2012
J.W.Power, Susannah and the Elders, 1931-32

Almost sixty years after his death, John Joseph Wardell Power is overdue for another look. Power is best known as the generous benefactor who provided funds for a department of art history at Sydney University and a collection that has since evolved into the Museum of Contemporary Art. It is not widely known that the … More

Jeffrey Smart: Master of Stillness

November 10, 2012
Jeffrey Smart, Labyrinth, 2011, oil on canvas, 100.0 x 100.0 cm

Over the years I’ve met two distinct types of person born and raised in Adelaide. The first believe Adelaide is the finest city on earth and could not imagine living anywhere else. The second claim to have never been there in their lives. Although he is not an out-and-out Adelaide denier, for as long as … More

Sculpture by the Sea 2012

October 27, 2012
Sir Anthony Caro, Eastern 1983/85, Bondi, 2012

Sculpture by the Sea owes much of its appeal to its outdoor setting but the exposed location brings its own hazards. There have been years in which the narrow walking trail from Bondi to Tamarama was nothing but a procession of dueling umbrellas. This year the installation was impeded by strong winds that made it … More

Sydney Long

October 20, 2012
Sydney Long, The West Wind, 1909, oil on canvas, 30.5 (h) x 51.0 (w) cm

It’s difficult to get too worked up about Sydney Long (1871-1955). He was, at best, an intriguing minor painter known for a few striking images. He was also a curious personality. Like Oscar Wilde, he was almost certainly gay, but married – a not uncommon combination in Sydney, even today. He could be charming or … More

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