contemporary art

El Anatsui non-lunch

February 4, 2016
Lunch with El Anatsui at the Old Clare Hotel

For an artist acclaimed as a ground-breaking pioneer for an entire continent, El Anatsui is amazingly laid-back. It may be because international fame and fortune didn’t arrive until 2004, when he was already 60 years old. It may be because he hails from a part of the world in which time is not always snapping … More


El Anatsui

February 4, 2016
EL ANATSUI, Adinkra Sasa (detail), 2003, fabric, aluminum and copper wire, 488 × 549 cm. Photo by Michael Young for ArtAsiaPacific

El Anatsui makes one feel there might actually be some substance in the talk of a globalised art world. The idea that artists from places other than Europe and America can be players on the contemporary scene has been around ever since Jean-Hubert Martin’s landmark exhibition, Magiciens de la Terre, held at the Centre Pompidou … More


Andy Warhol – Ai Weiwei

January 7, 2016
Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei Exhibition @NGV

There are ideas for exhibitions that make luminous sense – once somebody has announced them. Andy Warhol – Ai Weiwei at the National Gallery of Victoria set off bells and whistles in my head when curator, Max Delaney, told me about it last year. It’s such an obvious match it seems remarkable someone in Europe … More


Grayson Perry

December 17, 2015
Grayson Perry, Britain is Best, 2014, hand embroidery; silk, glass beads, sequins, cotton thread, edition of 20 plus 4 AP, published by Paragon Press, collection the artist, image courtesy Paragon Press and Victoria Miro, London © Grayson Perry

“On the whole I make very common categories of cultural product,” says Grayson Perry, “clay vessels, textile wall hangings, framed prints, figurines.” There is, however, nothing ‘common’ about the subject matter of Perry’s work or about his public persona – unless we take the word in a pejorative sense: “Oh my God, Grayson is so … More


Gilbert & George

December 4, 2015
GILBERT & GEORGE: THE ART EXHIBITION
Gentlemen of the gutter: Gilbert & George. Photo: Jay Brooks/Camera Press/AustralS

In the Victorian era the English were masters of the world, known for imperial glory and the strength of their civil institutions. But what are the English known for today? According to English doctor, Theodore Dalrymple: “for their militant vulgarity, their lack of restraint, their arrogant loudness, their ferocious and determined drunkenness, their antisocial egotism, … More


White Rabbit: Paradi$e Bitch

October 23, 2015
Shao Yinong & Muchen, Fairy Tales in Red Times—Black, 2003-2007, hand-dyed colour photograph, 160 x 120 cm.

Every new show at White Rabbit is supposedly “the best yet”. How could it be otherwise? No art museum, public or private, likes to take a backward step. This time, however, I’m inclined to agree. There’s something very complete and confident about the exhibition, Paradi$e Bitch. In a display of mostly new acquisitions, we get … More


Aleks Danko and Haines & Hinterding

August 29, 2015
Aleks Danko, incident – Ambivalence, 1991-1992, wood, galvanised steel and synthetic polymer paint and varnish, Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with the assistance of stART, MCA Young Patrons, 1993, image courtesy and © the artist

There are many exhibitions that must have been fun for the artist but leave viewers in a state of mild perplexity. The Museum of Contemporary Art has two such shows at the moment – shows that can be broadly appreciated, but not loved. Energies, the survey by David Haines and Joyce Hinterding, is almost over, … More


Go East: The Gene & Brian Sherman Contemporary Art Collection

July 11, 2015
Zhang Huan, Family Tree, 2000, c-type prints, suite of 9 images, edition 2/3, 227 x 183 cm (framed). Image courtesy: The Gene and Brian Sherman Collection, and Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney. Photo: the artist.

Public galleries have always cultivated good relations with private collectors, but lately those ties have taken on a new importance. This is partly a result of governments wanting to palm off the responsibility for arts funding onto private sources. The logic is perfectly cynical: when spending cuts are required the arts are seen as a … More


White Rabbit: State of Play

June 20, 2015
State of Play exhibition at the White Rabbit Gallery (installation view) (2015)

Certain nations are not renowned for their playfulness. Nicht wahr? Yet this is not the case with the Chinese who found out many years ago the only way to make life bearable is to laugh about it. The Chinese sense of humour is robust and dark. It may have been this way from time immemorial, … More


Michael Parekowhai & Billy Apple

June 6, 2015
PAREKOWHAI, Michael, The English Channel, 2015 Stainless steel. Courtesy: The artist and Michael Lett

When the drive towards Federation began in the late 19th century New Zealanders were actively involved, but by 1901 they had opted out. Their reason – and this is stated on the NZ history website – was that New Zealanders, both Pakeha and Maori, “were of superior stock to their counterparts across the Tasman.” A … More