contemporary art

Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium

November 17, 2017
Robert Mapplethorpe, 'Self-Portrait' (1985)

It may be the acid test of political correctness but it should be possible to dislike Robert Mapplethorpe’s work without being viewed as homophobic. Mapplethorpe often said he didn’t wish to be known as a “gay artist”, but he is such an icon for the LGBT community it’s virtually impossible to dissociate his work from … More


Gerhard Richter

November 10, 2017
Gerhard Richter, Ema (nude on a staircase) the 1992 photoprint

For decades Gerhard Richter has been one of the world’s most successful living artists, with work in museums and leading private collections all over the planet. The current record price for one of his paintings stands at US$46 million. Now comes the the biggest test of a long and distinguished career: Can he make it … More


Cressida Campbell: Who wants the world?

October 20, 2017
Cressida Campbell

Berlin in January was cold, with snow falling in light drifts. Inside the CFA Gallery on Am Kupfergraben, just across the River Spree from the Museum Island, everything was bright, white and climate-controlled. In a large central gallery on the first floor were massive oil paintings by Australia’s most commercially successful painter, Tim Storrier – … More


Anri Sala: The Last Resort

October 20, 2017
Anri Sala, drum beats over Sydney Harbour

Historians can never agree about the so-called “Age of Enlightenment”. The narrow definition has it beginning with the death of Louis XIV in 1715 and ending with the French Revolution in 1789. The long version begins somewhere in the late 1600s and fizzles out in 1815 with Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. As the dates are … More


Istanbul – The Art of Optimism

October 6, 2017
Sukran Moral, 'Hit-and-Run My Heart!' (2016)

“We are a thin-skinned country,” admitted Selim Yenel, “We are intolerant.” There was no argument from the international journalists assembled around the table. In the face of successive questions about government censorship and repression, the Undersecretary of the Turkish Ministry for EU Affairs Ambassador provided answers no-one could dispute. Asked about the political persecution of … More


White Rabbit: Ritual Spirit

October 6, 2017
Peng Hung-Chih, 'Farfur the Martyr' (2009)

Last week I was in China meeting artists from each end of the contemporary art spectrum. In Suzhou I saw a breathtaking show of brush-and-ink painting by Li Huayi (b.1948) an artist who has divided his life between China and San Francisco. In Shanghai I visited Xu Zhen (b.1977), one of the most successful artists … More


Sydney Contemporary 2017

September 15, 2017
Hahan, with his soon-to-be carved up mural

It was both pleasing and wryly amusing to learn that sales at this year’s Sydney Contemporary Art Fair topped $16 million. For a commercial gallery sector feeling unloved and unvisited this figure represents a resounding endorsement. Nevertheless, before breaking out the champagne it’s worth putting that achievement into perspective with a glance at Day One … More


Jenny Watson

September 8, 2017
Jenny Watson, '60s Dolly Bird' (2014)

One imagines teachers at the Julian Ashton Art School sending their pupils across the road to the Museum of Contemporary Art, to see Jenny Watson: The Fabric of Fantasy. For the traditionally-minded it’s an object lesson in how not to make art. If there are any cynics among those students, they might say: “…nevertheless, it … More


Art Stage Jakarta 2017

August 25, 2017
Melati spits ink at the Macan Museum

Two moments from the week of Art Stage Jakarta 2017 will stay lodged in my mind: the would-be ‘glittering occasion’ of the inaugural Indonesian Art Award, and a performance by Melati Suryodarmo in which she spent three hours in a blank cubicle, grunting, groaning and spitting ink at the walls. Indonesian art today lies somewhere … More


Mad Love

July 22, 2017
Kathryn Del Barton's delirious stain through hair and flesh………and stain through fur and flesh………

Although we live in a world in which the ugliest forms of nationalism seem to be making a comeback there is one partial antidote: cultural exchange. As we become progressively more familiar with the art, music, film, fashion and cuisine of another country, the fear and suspicion of the Other is diminished. Japan, for instance, … More