Landscape Painting

Destination Sydney

January 22, 2016

Destination Sydney is an inelegant title. It may be that Australian audiences only respond to the most banal and descriptive titles but that’s no reason for making shows sound like tourism initiatives. At the risk of coming across as a snob, I can only describe it as vulgar. Complaint registered, I’m happy to record that … More


Tom Roberts: Bailed Up

January 14, 2016

Tom Robert’s Bailed Up has been described by historian, Patrick McCarthy, who has written a book on the painting, as “probably Australia’s best known work of art”. The chief competition for this imaginary title would be Roberts’s other popular masterpiece, Shearing the Rams (1890). Few would dispute Roberts’s status as the pre-eminent Australian painter of … More


Tom Roberts

December 10, 2015

After a winter or two of discontent the National Gallery of Australia is once again open for business. It’s not that one hasn’t been able to visit this renowned institution, it’s just that nobody seemed to be doing so. With a scandal over looted Indian art, and a James Turrell show that ran for no … More


C.J.Pyle & J.D.’Ohai Ojeikere; Mary Tonkin; Six Artists, Seven Days

August 24, 2013

After many years of exile from the high church of contemporary art, Ray Hughes is now thinking maybe there is a God. His faith has been momentarily restored by a visit from Chris Dercon, the director of Tate Modern, London, who came to Australia last month to deliver a lecture sponsored by Kaldor Public Art … More


Philip Wolfhagen

July 13, 2013

To appreciate the art of Philip Wolfhagen one must be tolerant of repetition. Few Australian artists are more devoted to the serial approach to painting: fastening on to a particular motif, making small changes in colour and tone on successive canvases until the theme is exhausted. For Wolfhagen’s fans the process is mesmeric, for his … More


Turner From the Tate

February 23, 2013

According to J.M.W. Turner, the secret of being a great artist was “damn’d hard work.” This is difficult to argue against, especially when said by a painter whose pictures came to define the Romantic era – that time when artists stopped being seen as tradesmen and aspired to the role of individual genius. Yet Turner … More


Angus Nivison: A Survey

January 12, 2013

For those of us who spend their lives going in and out of art galleries there’s nothing better than being surprised. Before entering Angus Nivison’s survey at the S.H. Ervin Gallery I felt entirely familiar with this artist’s work. I’d even written a preface for the catalogue when the exhibition debuted at the Tamworth Regional … More


McCubbin: Last Impressions & Aida Tomescu

October 24, 2009

There can be few more disconcerting feelings than being the only one at a party who isn’t having a good time, but this is roughly how I felt as I wandered through the exhibition, McCubbin: Last Impressions 1907-17, at the National Gallery of Australia. Having never thought much of this period of McCubbin’s work I … More


Fred Williams & Victor Rubin

August 29, 2009

There are many answers to the question: “What is a classic?” It may be a work belonging to a certain period with a taste for ideal forms; an emphasis on balance, stillness and harmonious composition. Another definition sees a classic as something of undying excellence – a work of art that always seems as vital … More