International Art

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


Setouchi Triennale 2013

March 30, 2013
Craig Walsh & Hiromi Tango, Traces Blue, 2013

‘Revitalisation’ is the keynote to the second Setouchi Triennale, an exhibition that uses contemporary art to bring new energies to a region in decline. The Seto Inland Sea is one of the most picturesque parts of Japan, with a diverse cultural heritage spread across a series of islands, large and small. Today, as in so … More


Candice Breitz: The Character

February 2, 2013
Candice Breitz, Stills from Becoming Drew, 2003

It’s hard to stand out from the crowd in an exhibition such as the Venice Biennale, in which hundreds, possibly thousands of works are competing for the attentions of the cognoscenti. If you manage this feat, your career prospects as contemporary artist take a sharp turn to the north. Candice Breitz was born in Johannesburg … More


Anish Kapoor

January 26, 2013
Anish Kapoor, Memory, 2008

Some artists have greatness thrust upon them, others keep waiting but it never seems to turn up. Even if you are among that select group of the rich and famous, with every museum and collector clamouring for your latest creation, there is no guarantee it will make life easier. Material success has a strange tendency … More


7th Asia Pacific Triennial

December 22, 2012
Huang Yong Ping, China/France, Ressort, 2012, Aluminium, stainless steel

Bad acronym of the year is undoubtedly QAGOMA. To spell it out that means: Queensland Art Gallery Of Modern Art, which is irredeemable. One hopes that vast sums of money have not been spent on the rebranding process, because this new title should be binned before too many people notice. It might be a first … More


Sculpture by the Sea 2012

October 27, 2012
Sir Anthony Caro, Eastern 1983/85, Bondi, 2012

Sculpture by the Sea owes much of its appeal to its outdoor setting but the exposed location brings its own hazards. There have been years in which the narrow walking trail from Bondi to Tamarama was nothing but a procession of dueling umbrellas. This year the installation was impeded by strong winds that made it … More


Go Figure! Contemporary Chinese Portraiture

October 13, 2012
Yu Youhan, ‘Untitled (Mao Marilyn)’, Oil on canvas, 2005. 150 x 149 cm

There is a simple explanation as to why Chinese contemporary art is so relentlessly satirical: 27 years of ideological rectitude, including that final decade of Mao-induced madness known as the Cultural Revolution. From the time the Communist Party took over in 1949 there was nothing much to laugh about. The workers paradise had been achieved, … More


White Rabbit – Double Take

September 22, 2012
Liu Zhuoquan, Seven Sparrows, 2010, pigments on glass light fittings and one glass bottle

Ever since Deng Xiaoping plunged China into the era of reforms in the late 1970s, with the legendary words: “To get rich is glorious”, the nation’s leaders have spent a great deal of time resolving – or ignoring – contradictions. Karl Marx himself would have had difficulty explaining the paradox of a communist country with … More


Portrait of Spain

July 28, 2012
Alonso Sánchez Coello, The infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia and Magdalena Ruiz (detail) c.1585–88, oil on canvas, 207 X 129 cm

Over the years one grows wary of the claims made for so-called ‘blockbuster’ exhibitions. Each new show is the biggest, the best, the first, the most important. It is, therefore, a pleasure to see an exhibition that lives up to its pre-publicity. None of the 100 works borrowed for Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the … More