contemporary art

New MCA

April 7, 2012
Exterior of the new MCA on Circular Quay

A new Museum of Contemporary Art has been a long time coming. This weekend the public can take a first look and see if the wait has been worthwhile. My own verdict, after an intensive preview, is that it is a qualified success. Some would argue we have been waiting ever since John Wardell Power’s … More


Love Lace

February 25, 2012
Alice Vokac,First Day Wonder -Lace panel: bobbin lace in cotton and silk threads,195 x 265 x 2 mm

Over the past few years the Powerhouse Museum has attracted plenty of critics, but turn up on a Saturday and the place is full of people. Does this mean the criticisms are baseless – the mere bleating of snobs and elitists? Well no, actually. Since its grand opening in 1988, the building has always been … More


Wim Delvoye

January 28, 2012
Wim Delvoye, Cloaca Professional, 2010

Adolf Loos, the outspoken Austrian designer and critic, argued: “the modern person who tattoos himself is either a criminal or a degenerate.” Loos was writing in 1929, and one can only wonder what he would make of the present day vogue for tattoos that cover an arm and half a torso. He would probably see … More


Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

January 14, 2012
Pulse Room 2006

Like a Virgin Airlines flight, we are assured there is a serious side to Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Recorders, at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Although this free exhibition of interactive installations feels like a piece of light holiday entertainment for the kids, it wouldn’t be an MCA show if we were not informed that the work … More


Robert Malherbe, Rhys Lee, Peter Godwin & Guan Wei

October 22, 2011
Peter Godwin, Studio Interior/ Torricelli Mask, 2011, gouache and tempera on paper, 40 x 60cm

There is a romantic expectation that an artist will keep producing works that are wholly original. This can create a debilitating pressure, as some feel obliged to produce a new twist with every exhibition. But art is not created in a vacuum, and all artists take something from their predecessors. As Picasso is famously alleged … More


White Rabbit: Beyond the Frame

October 8, 2011
Ai Weiwei, Oil Spill, 2006

Back again is Ai Weiwei’s Oil spill (2007) – a series of shiny black porcelain discs that sit flat on the floor, mimicking drops of black gold. In typical fashion, Ai Weiwei takes a substance associated with toxic pollution and transforms it into an aesthetic delicacy. Such ironic turnarounds and dislocations are characteristic of his … More


Unguided Tours

July 8, 2011
David Haines and Joyce Hinterding, The outlands 2011, production still. Courtesy of the artists and BREENSPACE, Sydney

Having just returned from my own travels, I went straight to the Art Gallery of NSW to take another look at Unguided Tours: The Anne Landa Award for video & new media art. This is the fourth installment of this triennial exhibition, named in honour of the late Anne Landa, who was a lot more … More


54th Venice Biennale

June 17, 2011
Photo: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Never has a more glamorous bag accompanied such a tawdry exhibition. A dazzling gold carry-all, advertising Hany Armanious’s installation in the Australian pavilion, was to be seen all over Venice during the vernissage of the 54th Biennale. The only more prominent bag may have been the bright red one with ‘Free Ai Weiwei’ emblazoned in … More


Laverty 2, Newcastle Region Art Gallery

May 28, 2011
William Robinson, The sand ziggurat, Kingscliff (1995) 137.5 x 183.0 cm oil on canvas

All the talk this week has been about the Kaldor collection. This high-profile donation has prompted a massive operation on the belly of the Art Gallery of NSW, with architect, Andrew Andersens, playing a familiar role as the leading cosmetic surgeon of Australian museums. The makeover has transformed a dingy storage area into an elegant, … More


A fine new space for a somewhat muddled collection

May 18, 2011
Photo: Edwina Pickles

First impressions of the new galleries devoted to the John Kaldor Family Collection are all good. This vast, clean, well-lighted space is an ideal environment for showing large works of contemporary art. More