landscape

Michael Schlieper (1947-2015)

April 18, 2015

Artists with superior technical abilities are often studies in disappointment. When you can paint like an Old Master it is depressing to see the kind of stuff that turns up in Biennales and public collections. Neither can one un-learn abilities that have become second nature. It’s a predicament that breeds fatalism. Michael Schlieper had all … More


Drawing

November 22, 2014

French poet and essayist, Paul Valéry, said that drawing required “a sustained act of will” – but any child can pick up a pencil and draw with pleasure. The act of drawing, which keeps growing less definable, is both simple and hard. Simple because anyone can make a mark, hard because it requires unstinting practice … More


Salon des Refusés 2014

August 9, 2014

So much has already been written about Sydney’s $9.3 million public sculpture proposals that I’m in two minds whether to comment or leave it alone. Nevertheless, it’s an issue that won’t go away. It’s depressing that the very idea of a city council spending money on art brings out the philistine in a large proportion … More


Bigger is Better

November 8, 2013

David Hockney broke all previous attendance records at the Royal Academy of Arts last year, with his show A Bigger Picture. The RA tells us that 650,000 people crowded through those galleries to see a show largely devoted to landscapes of Yorkshire, the artist’s birthplace. It sounds hard to believe, until one sees David Hockney: A Bigger … More


William Robinson, Aida Tomescu, Evelyn Kotai

August 25, 2012

Fred Williams used to say that if you can’t paint a portrait then your art is in trouble. He would have been surprised to see so many portraits included in his recent retrospective, as they were only ever a diversion from his landscape paintings. For an artist there is always the danger that one day … More


Not the Way Home, Damaged

June 16, 2012

In recent years there has been a spate of projects in which a group of artists are taken to some far-flung location and invited to respond to a new environment. The end result is a group exhibition that gathers together works made on the spot, and those created afterwards in the studio from memories, sketches … More


Euan Macleod: The Shadow Line

May 22, 2012

Euan Macleod may be a landscape painter but it often seems as if the physical world is not his principle focus. Although he may stand for hours painting en plein air; although his pictures may reflect the recognisable features of a particular place, Macleod’s true subject is to be found within his own mind. The … More


Elisabeth Cummings

January 21, 2012

A recent press release from the National Gallery of Australia announces an exhibition of 200 years of Australian landscape to be held at the Royal Academy, London, in September 2013. This is a long-overdue event, and it is to be hoped the NGA takes the opportunity to make the show something more than a historical … More


Fred Williams

September 10, 2011

When the previous retrospective of an artist’s work contained no fewer than 417 pieces, it is inevitable that a new exhibition of about 120 pictures will be known as the ‘smaller’ show. That earlier Fred Williams’s mega-retrospective was held at the National Gallery of Australia in 1987, but I still have a vivid recollection of … More


Goodbye Margaret, hello Brisbane

July 31, 2011

There are a number of phone calls that I dread, although they are inevitable. One arrived last Wednesday when the SMH Arts Editor, Clare Morgan, rang to tell me that Margaret Olley had died. Margaret has been a fixture on the Australian art scene since the 1940s, and it would be difficult to think of … More