contemporary art

17th Biennale of Sydney

May 29, 2010
Wang Qingsong, Competition, 2004, c-type print, 170 x 300 cm. Courtesy the artist

But that joke isn’t funny any more, It’s too close to home And it’s too near the bone. (The Smiths) “When he makes a joke,” said Sigmund Freud, “a problem lies concealed.” He was quoting Goethe, who was referring to the aphorist, Lichtenberg, but the sentence has universal relevance. Laughter is a release from tension, … More


17th Biennale of Sydney

May 22, 2010
Yolngu artists from North East Arnhem Land: Miniyawany Yunupingu, Djirrirra Wunungmurra, Wukun Wanambi, Dhurrumuwuy Marika, Buwathay Munyarryun, "Larrakitj," earth pigments on naturally hollowed log

  We are the Folk Song Army, Every one of us cares. We all hate poverty, war, and injustice, Unlike the rest of you squares. (Tom Lehrer)   This may or may not be Sydney’s biggest ever Biennale, but it breaks all records for the length of the title. The Beauty of Distance: Songs of … More


White Rabbit: The Tao of Now

May 8, 2010
Shi Jindian, wire woven motorcycle and sidecar, 2008

There is nothing like the thought of China to make one appreciate life in Australia. Our so-called ‘great population debate’ seems laughable when we put our 22.3 million inhabitants alongside China’s 1.33 billion. We may be duly concerned about the strain that overpopulation puts on the environment, on water resources and infrastructure, but China’s problems … More


Fiona Tan, Jon Lewis & Kate Geraghty

May 1, 2010
Fiona Tan, Disorient (still), 2009.

Fiona Tan is almost the perfect multicultural artist. Born in Indonesia of Australian and Chinese parents, brought up in Melbourne, she now resides in the Netherlands. Last year she was the Dutch representative at the Venice Biennale, where her video, Disorient, was one of the best received exhibits in a largely disappointing show. Would it … More


Hats and James Fardoulys

April 24, 2010
James Fardoulys, The start of Burke and Wills 1860, 1972, Oil on board, 77 x 93cm; 88 x 101.5cm

Lewis Carroll cannot take complete credit for the expression: “as mad as a hatter”. Even before he created the most famous tea party in world literature, hatters had quite a reputation. The mercury compounds used in 19th century hat making induced a range of symptoms including trembling fits and mood swings. It is unlikely that … More


Ron Mueck

February 27, 2010
Ron Mueck, ‘Old Woman in bed’, (detail) 2002

There is no place in the upper echelons of contemporary art for a reasonable person: to be a success one has to be an extremist. There are artists whose work is so sloppy it might have been thrown together the day before an opening, and those with an obsessive eye for detail. Many curators and … More


Olafur Eliasson

February 13, 2010
Olafur Eliasson, 360° room for all colours, 2002, Stainless steel, projection foil, fluorescent lights, wood, control unit 320 cm, 815 cm, Installation view at Musée d’ Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2002

When a show is called Take Your Time, and runs for four full months, there seems to be no great urgency in visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art. So little urgency that I’m always talking to people who missed an MCA exhibition because they thought they might go next week, or perhaps the week after, … More


Lynette Wallworth & Circa 1979: Signal to Noise

January 23, 2010
Lynette Wallworth, Evolution of Fearlessness, 2006

This year’s Sydney Festival follows the familiar pattern of being chiefly concerned with theatre and music. This comes as no great surprise, but it is important that the visual arts events are not treated merely as an afterthought. Olafur Eliasson at the Museum of Contemporary Art is the headline act, while the Campbelltown Arts Centre … More


Fiona Foley

January 9, 2010
Fiona Foley, Annihilation of the Blacks, 1986, wood, synthetic polymer paint, feathers, string 278 x 300 x 60 cm

Fiona Foley is an artist who has benefited from being in the right place at the right time. Having begun exhibiting in the mid-1980s, she is young enough to have missed the great ideological battles that took place in the art of the sixties and seventies. She never had to worry about edges and picture … More


6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art

December 12, 2009
Gonkar Gyatso, Buddha Sakyamuni Dissected, 2010, mixed media, pencil and Indian ink over silkscreen,  280 x 230 cm

Has it been fifteen years already? In its sixth installment the Asia Pacific Triennial at the Queensland Art Gallery shows no signs of settling into a predictable pattern. On the contrary: the APT is the most dynamic contemporary art exhibition in Australia and quite possibly the world. It may not be the biggest of shows, … More