contemporary art

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

John Akomfrah: Vertigo Sea

October 6, 2016
A still showing the beauty of John Akomfrah's Vertigo Sea. Photo: John Akomfrah

John Akomfrah’s Vertigo Sea is the flagship piece in a suite of exhibitions at the UNSW Galleries called Troubled Waters. The entire ensemble includes a 26-minute, 5-channel installation by Georgia Wallace-Crabbe called The Earth and the Elements; and a multimedia exhibition called River Journey, featuring work by Janet Laurence, Andrew Belletty, Nici Cumpston, Bonita Ely … More

Telling Tales

July 1, 2016
Shirley Purdie, Daaloony (Green Plum Buchanania Obovata) from the series Goowoolem Gijam – Gija plants, 2013-16, ochre on canvas, 72 parts: 45 × 45 cm each, image courtesy the artist and Warmun Art Centre © the artist/Licensed by Viscopy 2016, photograph: Jessica Maurer

At the 1986 Adelaide Festival I attended a couple of evenings with American actor, Spalding Gray, who sat on a bare stage and delivered monologues. It sounds like a recipe for boredom but Gray’s performances were spell-binding – a revelation as to the power of simple, unadulterated story-telling. In tribal cultures the role of story-telling … More

Cindy Sherman

June 23, 2016
Cindy Sherman, UNTITLED #470. 2008

Some leading artists come across as would-be pop stars or super salesmen. There are those like Marina Abramovic, who are charm personified; others, such as Matthew Barney, immersed in their work to the point of distraction. Cindy Sherman is a study in normality. Small of stature, still fresh-faced at 62, put her in a group … More

Head On 2016

May 6, 2016
Daniella Zalcman's Signs of Your Identity @ Festival Hub Central

Sydney loves grand, all-encompassing events, and Head On has become one of the most eagerly awaited festivals in the cultural calendar. This year’s show is distributed among 60 public and private venues spread throughout the city, the suburbs, and other parts of the state. Twenty major international photographers will be participating in talks and workshops … More

Art Basel Hong Kong 2016

March 31, 2016
Wang Huaiqing, 'Chinese Emperor 6', 2015, Tina Keng Gallery

“I hope you enjoy it,” said Marc Spiegler, Global Director of Art Basel, making his usual attempt to convince a cynical group of journalists that Art Basel Hong Kong 2016 was all about art, not money. “Well it seems to get a little better every year,” I replied with cautious optimism. “Oh, I think you’ll … More

Biennale of Sydney 2016

March 23, 2016
Ming Wong, 'Windows On The World (Part 1)', 2014, mixed ... rkshop, Hong Kong. Photograph: Glenn Eugen Ellingsen

There’s a lot to like about the 20th Biennale of Sydney, but it isn’t necessarily the art. Curator Stephanie Rosenthal, born in Germany but employed by the Hayward Gallery in London, has proven herself to be one of the most committed of all Biennale directors. Previous incumbents have tended to fly into Australia for quick … More

Biennale of Sydney: First Impressions

March 23, 2016
Lee Mingwei, Guernica in Sand, 2006/2015, mixed-media interactive installation; sand, wooden island, lighting, 1300 x 643 cm. Courtesy of JUT Museum Pre-Opening Office, Taipei. Photograph: Taipei Fine Arts Museum

If the previous Biennale of Sydney gave the impression that artists were selected almost at random, the latest incarnation of Australia’s premier international art exhibition sends out the contrary message. Director, Stephanie Rosenthal, has so many reasons for every part of this show that one is left reeling. The theme this year is The future … More

Adelaide Biennial 2016

March 10, 2016
Tom Moore's work, Planktonic Self, will be turned into a large inflatable artwork.

Adelaide has thrown down the gauntlet for this year’s Sydney Biennale with a show that sparkles like a revolving disco ball. I can’t recall an exhibition of contemporary Australian art which has opened with more positive energy than the 2016 Adelaide Biennial: Magic Object. It’s a tour-de-force for the undervalued Australian art scene, and a … More

Perth Festival Art Exhibitions

March 4, 2016
Dani Marti, Prelude (Purple), 2015, corner cube reflectors, glass beads on aluminium frame. Image courtesy of the artist. GAGPROJECTS | Greenway Art Gallery, Adelaide; and ARC ONE GALLERY, Melbourne

It’s often said that the Perth art scene suffers by its isolation, but nowadays the pain doesn’t seem too intense. In the arts the high point of every year is the Perth International Arts Festival. Of all the festivals that take place in cities around the country, Perth has the best and most dynamic visual … More