contemporary art

2013: The Best & Worst of the Visual Arts

January 6, 2014
Installation piece: Xu Zhen's In Just a Blink of an Eye, in the 27th Kaldor Art Project 13 Rooms. Photo: Janie Barrett

My best art experience of the year happened on the other side of the planet, in a retrospective celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edvard Munch. The show, divided between the National Gallery and the Munch Museum in Olso, revealed an unrelenting intensity of vision. It featured the most complete collection of paintings … More


Singapore Biennale

December 7, 2013
Singapore Biennale 2013 - If The World Changed
Photos contributed by Aaron Eng

This year’s Singapore Biennale goes by the theme: If the World Changed. But where does the “if” come into the equation? The world is changing all the time with increasing rapidity. There is the forward movement of technological progress and the looming entropy of climate change. Every country in the world is locked into a … More


White Rabbit: ‘Serve the People’ & Li Jin

October 19, 2013
Jin Feng, History of China's Modernisation Volumes 1 and 2, 2011, rubber, marble, rice paper, dimensions variable (detail)

Serve the People was the theme of a speech given by Mao Zedong in September 1944, while the Red Army was still engaged in combat with the Japanese. One year later the invader was defeated and the Communist forces would be renamed “the People’s Liberation Army”. In the years that followed, the PLA would battle … More


Moscow Biennale 2013

October 5, 2013
Panamarenko, The Aeromodeller, 1969

Moscow will never be a contender for the title of ‘World’s Most Liveable City’. It is a place where puny human beings are overshadowed by the architectural juggernauts of Church and State. Even the famous Metro – each station an aesthetic marvel – is so deeply embedded in the earth that every train trip feels … More


The Red Queen

July 6, 2013
Lindsay Seers, called Nowhere Less Now, 2012

It’s becoming difficult to remember what Hobart was like before David Walsh started his Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). Within two-and-a-half years this Gothic fortress of sex and death has eaten up the city more effectively than any movie monster ever ate Detroit. Every day a steady procession of tourists from all over … More


Venice Biennale 2013: The Encylopaedic Palace

June 8, 2013
Vadim Zakharov, Danaë, Installation view, Russian Pavilion

Every Venice Biennale is a talk fest – a place for the beautiful people of the art world to exchange opinions and business cards at endless parties. Unfortunately most of the talk is of a very tawdry nature: “I just loved the Ruritanian pavilion!” “Oh yeah, I loved it too!”  And so on, ad infinitum. … More


Art Basel in Hong Kong 2013

June 1, 2013
Yayoi Kusuma, Flame of Life — Dedicated to Tu-Fu (Du-Fu)

Hong Kong is said to have got its name from the smell of incense stored in warehouses by the waterfront. Nowadays in “the fragrant harbour” the dominant smell is that of money, and it’s a perfume most residents find highly agreeable. There was a certain tang in the air last week, as the increasingly successful … More


Lars & the big poo

May 28, 2013
Cao Fei's Suckling Pig

At the end of another Hong Kong Art Fair – now rebranded as Art Basel in Hong Kong – one image stays in my mind. On an elevated platform stands Lars Nittve, executive director of the much-heralded M+ Museum, due to open in 2017. He is wearing a brown suit and giving a speech, in … More


5th Auckland Triennial: If You Were to LIve Here…

May 25, 2013
Do Ho Suh, A Perfect Home: The Bridge Project,  2010, Auckland Art Gallery synchronised four-monitor animated digital slide presentation, two single-channel videos, sound 11:00min

After studying the recently announced theme for next year’s Sydney Biennale – “You Imagine what You Desire” – I’d like to suggest an alternative title, borrowed from a video by Singaporean artist, Ho Tzu Nyen – The Cloud of Unknowing. I know this was the name of a mystical tract from the late Middle Ages, … More


Jeff Wall

May 11, 2013
Jeff Wall, The Destroyed Room, Transparency in light box, 159 x 234cm

Even in this age of digital revolution most people will accept that a painting or a sculpture demands to be seen at first hand. Photographs, however, are a different matter. Not only are the works of every great photographer viewable on-line, they often look better in a large-format book than on the gallery wall. Not … More