Australian artist

Tom Roberts: Bailed Up

January 14, 2016
Tom Roberts, 'Bailed Up' (1895, 1927)

Tom Robert’s Bailed Up has been described by historian, Patrick McCarthy, who has written a book on the painting, as “probably Australia’s best known work of art”. The chief competition for this imaginary title would be Roberts’s other popular masterpiece, Shearing the Rams (1890). Few would dispute Roberts’s status as the pre-eminent Australian painter of … More


Tom Roberts

December 10, 2015
Tom Roberts, 'Shearing the rams' (1888-90)

After a winter or two of discontent the National Gallery of Australia is once again open for business. It’s not that one hasn’t been able to visit this renowned institution, it’s just that nobody seemed to be doing so. With a scandal over looted Indian art, and a James Turrell show that ran for no … More


Country & Western

November 13, 2015
William Robinson, 'Shaded pool Carnarvon', oil on canvas, 92 x 122cm, 2008, Rockhampton Art Gallery collection

As Country & Western: landscape re-imagined tours Australia, it will leave a trail of disappointed music fans. The title seems to promise some mystical conjunction of landscape painting and Slim Dusty. In reality it’s all landscape. At the S.H.Ervin Gallery there is not even the sound of a guitar twanging in the background. It makes … More


Robert MacPherson

September 19, 2015
Robert MacPherson
Mayfair: Bethonga Gold, for B.T.O's 1995-2006
National Gallery of Australia

If Robert MacPherson (b. 1937) were a character in a novel he would test the reader’s credulity. It’s hard to believe in the idea of a conceptual artist raised in a Queensland country town, who left school early to work in a cannery and then as a musterer at a cattle station. By the age … More


William Dobell: Painter in Paradise

July 4, 2015
WILLIAM DOBELL,
'Head of Kuta girl' (1953)
oil on hardboard, 45 x 34 cm.
Private collection

Although he was one of Australia’s best-known artists, William Dobell (1899-1970) was inordinately sensitive to criticism. After the notorious court case over his Archibald Prize win of 1943, Dobell withdrew to his hideaway in Wangi where he suffered from a series of nervous complaints. He broke out in severe dermatitis and at one point lost … More


Trent Parke

April 25, 2015
Trent Parke, Australia, born 1971, Swan, Adelaide, 2007, © Trent Parke/Magnum Photos

Death and the photo are close relations, as every click of the camera records a moment that will never be repeated. What we tend to admire in a photographer is the ability to transcend this inherent morbidity, to take the stuff of everyday life and shape it into something strange and marvellous. No photographer could … More


Shaun Gladwell

March 14, 2015
Shaun Gladwell, Untitled (Wanderer above the sea of fog) (Detail), 2014


Watching the inexorable rise of Shaun Gladwell over the past decade makes me feel like the only teetotaler at a drunken party. After absorbing many hours of video, I still don’t get it. When everyone was gasping about Storm Sequence (2000) – a slow-motion film of Gladwell on a skateboard, I thought it was stupefying. … More


Learning from Peter Lik

March 14, 2015
‘Phantom’ by Peter Lik

One day, with a photographer friend, I wandered into the Peter Lik Gallery in Cairns. It felt more like a chintzy tourist restaurant than an art gallery. The lights were low, the walls painted a charcoal colour. The furniture was new and gleaming, music played in the background. Lik’s landscape photographs were hung thickly on … More


Colin Lanceley 1938-2015

March 7, 2015
Colin Lanceley, 'Songs of a summer night (Lynne's garden)' (1985)

Although he withdrew from the art scene suffering from declining health and a growing sense of disenchantment, Colin Lanceley’s work was one long chorus of joie-de-vivre. To look at his paintings from any period is to see an artist who believed, with Matisse, that art should be a celebration of life and beauty. In Lanceley’s … More


Colin Lanceley 1938-2015

February 7, 2015
Colin Lanceley (Australia, b.1938), 'Songs of a summer night (Lynne's garden)' (1985), oil, wood on canvas

Colin Lanceley was an artist of rare integrity who pursued his own ideals of beauty in an artworld that made a fetish of ugliness. He was a thinker, and a wonderfully articulate speaker who could address a large audience with the ease of a dinner party conversation. He was a dedicated advocate for causes such … More