International Art

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


18th Biennale of Sydney

July 14, 2012
Sachiko Abe: Cut Papers # 13, 2012

One of the most striking images in the 18th Biennale of Sydney is that of Japanese artist Sachiko Abe, dressed in bridal white, sitting in a small brick building in Cockatoo Island, cutting paper. Visitors are asked to remain silent, so the only sound is the noise made by Abe’s scissors as she trims sheets … More


Portrait of Spain (a preview)

July 7, 2012
Titian, Christ carrying the Cross, c.1565, oil on canvas, 67 x 77cm

For a visitor to the Museo del Prado in Madrid one moment stays fixed in the memory: entering the central gallery to be confronted by Diego Velasquez’s masterpiece, Las Meninas (1665). The most dramatic way of approaching the painting is to see it framed by a doorway from the other side of the room. There … More


18th Biennale of Sydney

July 7, 2012
Liu Zhuoquan: Where are you? (2012) MCA installation

“Between belief in Nature and belief in politics, one has to choose,” writes French sociologist, Bruno Latour, in the stand-out essay in this year’s Biennale catalogue. We have a perfect demonstration of this principle in the hysterical debate about a carbon price. While Nature is forever, politics is an exercise in short-term, strategic thinking that … More


Theatre of the World

June 30, 2012
Screen shot 2012-07-28 at 7.45.16 PM

For many people museums are uncomfortably similar to mausoleums – repositories of dead animals, dead art, dead ideas. Even those of us who spend their lives in these institutions experience moments when everything feels too dull or predictable. At heart, museums are educational organisations, competing for attention with an ever-increasing range of distractions. But the … More


AGNSW: A new hang

June 23, 2012
Screen shot 2012-07-06 at 6.06.32 PM

A new hang of a gallery’s permanent collection was once a routine affair, but nowadays it has taken on the status of an event. This is partly because the rising costs of doing exhibitions combined with the dwindling budgets of public galleries have forced all institutions to draw more heavily on the works they already … More


Masami Teraoka, Migration

June 2, 2012
Masami Teraoka: New Wave Series / Christine at Hanauma Bay 1992 watercolour on paper 56.5 x 75.0 cm

One of the strangest developments in the Sydney art scene is the sudden upsurge of galleries showing and selling high priced international art. This is surprising, given the fact that these are dismal times for retail and the art business is essentially retail with delusions of grandeur. There are only two explanations: either there are … More


Art Hong Kong 2012

May 26, 2012
Contemporary art installations at Art HK

Hong Kong is ideally located to take advantage an eastern economic boom that keeps defying western prophets of doom. Although it may sound scarcely believable, that defiant attitude is shared by leading western art dealers who have begun opening gigantic new spaces in a city long known as a cultural backwater. Those bad old days … More


The Clock, Marking Time

May 12, 2012
The Clock, 2010 single-channel video, 24 hours, photo by Christian Marclay

Switzerland gave us the cuckoo clock, and Swiss-American artist, Christian Marclay, has created the most preposterous time-piece in the history of art. The Clock is such a unique artifact it defies all but the most impressionistic responses. This is obvious from Zadie Smith’s essay in the brochure published for the work’s showing at the Museum … More