International Art

New MCA

April 7, 2012
Exterior of the new MCA on Circular Quay

A new Museum of Contemporary Art has been a long time coming. This weekend the public can take a first look and see if the wait has been worthwhile. My own verdict, after an intensive preview, is that it is a qualified success. Some would argue we have been waiting ever since John Wardell Power’s … More


William Kentridge: Five Themes & A Universal Archive (Parts 7-23)

March 17, 2012
William Kentridge, Five Themes, 840 x 646

“Thinking against oneself,” was a phrase used by the German philosopher, Theodor W. Adorno, whose late work was filled with melancholy reflections on the Holocaust. He was referring to the Nazis, who clung to a set of beliefs that allowed them to divide humanity up into a master race and a disposable remainder. This is … More


Love Lace

February 25, 2012
Alice Vokac,First Day Wonder -Lace panel: bobbin lace in cotton and silk threads,195 x 265 x 2 mm

Over the past few years the Powerhouse Museum has attracted plenty of critics, but turn up on a Saturday and the place is full of people. Does this mean the criticisms are baseless – the mere bleating of snobs and elitists? Well no, actually. Since its grand opening in 1988, the building has always been … More


Fred Sandback; Wim Delvoye; Abstract Canvas; Philip King

February 18, 2012
Wim Delvoye: Dump Truck (scale model 1:4,75), 2010 lasercut corten steel 200 × 47 × 69cm

Over the years Andrew Jensen has edged his way north, starting in Christchurch, moving to Wellington, on to Auckland, and last year crossing national lines and arriving in Sydney. What makes the Jensen Gallery unusual is that the exhibition program consists of 70-80 per cent international art – the kind of art we normally only … More


Tim Burton

August 28, 2010
Screen shot 2012-01-20 at 9.58.14 AM

In his bravura performance as the Joker in Batman (1989), Jack Nicholson delivers a line that says a lot about director, Tim Burton. “We mustn’t compare ourselves to regular people,” he tells Kim Basinger. “We’re artists.” One should never underestimate middle-class mediocrity as a spur to greater achievement. Burton’s entire career as graphic artist, animator, … More


Art Hong Kong 2010

June 6, 2010
Damien Hirst, 'An Inescapable Truth', 2005, glass tank of formaldehyde, dove, human skull

Hong Kong has always understood money but not art. Unlike other business capitals this hyperactive island’s passion for profit has never been translated into a desire for cultural distinction. That held true until art and money became so closely intertwined that the prices paid for contemporary works became more important than the content. When this … More


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


Sculpture by the Sea & The Miniature Show

November 14, 2009
Jan King, Abyssinia, slate, steel, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, 2009

Sculpture by the Sea is thirteen years old and – judging by its current incarnation – still in the throes of puberty. Aside from long-running institutions such as the Archibald, or the Mosman Art Prize, most annual competitions and group exhibitions never last for a decade. The most dramatic example must be the one-and-only Melbourne … More


53rd Venice Biennale

June 20, 2009
Yelena Vorobyeva & Viktor Vorobyev, Artist Asleep, 1998,  Installation (bed in front), Central Asia pavillon

Making Worlds – Fare Mondi is the theme for this year’s Venice Biennale, the 53rd installment of the world’s leading contemporary art exhibition. In the words of Daniel Birnbaum, the Swedish-born, Frankfurt-based director, the title expresses a wish “to emphasise the process of creation.” This may sound a very modest ambition but Birnbaum does have … More