contemporary art

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


56th Venice Biennale, 2015

May 16, 2015
Fiona Hall, Tjukurrpa Kumpilitja (Hidden Stories), detail, 2014

“He’s very political.” This is what I heard, more than once, about Okwui Enwezor, the Nigerian-born curator of the 56th Venice Biennale, which goes by the suitably airy title: All the World’s Futures. This need not imply revolutionary credentials because “political” is a word with both macro and micro applications. Put three people in a … More


Head On 2015

May 15, 2015
Sandro Miller, Annie Leibovitz/ Meryl Streep NYC, (1981), 2014

When a show draws a huge crowd to the Town Hall on a rainy Friday night it is testimony to Sydney’s booming interest in photography. The occasion was the opening of Head On, the annual photo festival that has grown to colossal proportions over the past few years. The influx of photographers and fans from … More


Art Basel Hong Kong 2015

March 21, 2015
Art Basel in Hong Kong 2015
Photo by Jessica Hromas/Art Basel 2015

At the Cocktail Reception that followed the Private View of this year’s Art Basel Hong Kong the Swiss luxury brand, Davidoff, was handing out free cigars. It proved a wildly popular giveaway. The entire party, held around the swimming pool of the Grand Hyatt, was wreathed in a fog of cigar smoke. A food queue … 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


The Artist as Professional

February 28, 2015
Bruce Nauman, The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths, 1967

In 1903 Cézanne wrote to his dealer, Ambrose Vollard: “Must art indeed be a priesthood, demanding that the faithful be bound to it body and soul?” Today the question would be greeted with derision. Art in the 21st century is not a spiritual calling, it is a profession. The artist is not motivated by inner … More


2014: The Year in Art

January 10, 2015
Roy Lichtenstein, 'In the Car', 1963.

2014 has brought mixed fortunes for Sydney’s art institutions. The Art Gallery of NSW began with a weak show of American art, and ended with the long-awaited Pop to Popism (until 1 March) – a distinct improvement, but possibly not the hit the Gallery so badly needs. In the meantime there has been a dearth … More