International 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


Yoko Ono

November 30, 2013
Artist Yoko Ono, Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, 2013

For an artist who has devoted her career to peace, love and understanding, Yoko Ono’s press call at the Museum of Contemporary Art was unpleasantly regimented. Journalists and photographers were herded from room to room like errant sheep, and it was made clear that questions about John Lennon would not be welcome. The only problem … More


Balthus: Cats and Girls

November 16, 2013
Balthus, Drawing Room, 1942

“Balthus is a painter of whom nothing is known. Now let us look at the pictures.” This was the formula proposed by this reclusive artist for the catalogue of his 1968 retrospective at the Tate Gallery, London. Whereas most artists are eager to have their lives and deeds discussed at length, Balthus (1908-2001) was a … More


Sculpture by the Sea 2013

November 9, 2013
Bert Flugelman, Semaphore, 2000, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 2013. Image from Instagram.

It was not the best of times, it was not worst of times. The 17th annual Sculpture by the Sea (SxS) features the usual mix of pieces that might be described as ‘serious’ sculpture, and others that are little more than gimmicks. It has become a familiar recipe but seems to go down well with … 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


Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus

June 15, 2013
Bjorn Godwin and Jette Gejl, The Garden of Natural Delights (After Bosch), Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus, 2013

For the third time in six years Australia’s most popular exhibition has been transplanted to the coast of Jutland, drawing enormous crowds. Sculpture by the Sea first came to Denmark’s second city, Aarhus, in 2009, at the behest of Crown Prince Frederik and his Australian bride, Crown Princess Mary. Had the Danish Royal Family been … 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


White Rabbit: Smash Palace

May 4, 2013
Zhou Jie, CBD, 2010

Every exhibition at White Rabbit, the Neilson family’s private museum of contemporary Chinese art, has featured at least one show-stopper. The tour-de-force in the current show, Smash Palace, is Cheng Dapeng’s Wonderful City (2011-12), a 9.6 metre-long 3D print. On a long, light-box table, Cheng has placed a scale model of a city overrun with … More


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