Museum of Contemporary Art

Biennale of Sydney 2016

March 23, 2016
Ming Wong, 'Windows On The World (Part 1)', 2014, mixed ... rkshop, Hong Kong. Photograph: Glenn Eugen Ellingsen

There’s a lot to like about the 20th Biennale of Sydney, but it isn’t necessarily the art. Curator Stephanie Rosenthal, born in Germany but employed by the Hayward Gallery in London, has proven herself to be one of the most committed of all Biennale directors. Previous incumbents have tended to fly into Australia for quick … More


Biennale of Sydney: First Impressions

March 23, 2016
Lee Mingwei, Guernica in Sand, 2006/2015, mixed-media interactive installation; sand, wooden island, lighting, 1300 x 643 cm. Courtesy of JUT Museum Pre-Opening Office, Taipei. Photograph: Taipei Fine Arts Museum

If the previous Biennale of Sydney gave the impression that artists were selected almost at random, the latest incarnation of Australia’s premier international art exhibition sends out the contrary message. Director, Stephanie Rosenthal, has so many reasons for every part of this show that one is left reeling. The theme this year is The future … More


Grayson Perry

December 17, 2015
Grayson Perry, Britain is Best, 2014, hand embroidery; silk, glass beads, sequins, cotton thread, edition of 20 plus 4 AP, published by Paragon Press, collection the artist, image courtesy Paragon Press and Victoria Miro, London © Grayson Perry

“On the whole I make very common categories of cultural product,” says Grayson Perry, “clay vessels, textile wall hangings, framed prints, figurines.” There is, however, nothing ‘common’ about the subject matter of Perry’s work or about his public persona – unless we take the word in a pejorative sense: “Oh my God, Grayson is so … More


Matthys Gerber

October 16, 2015
Matthys Gerber, Self Portrait, 2002, oil on polyester, Collection of the University of Queensland, purchased 2005, image courtesy and © the artist, photo: Carl Warner

One might imagine there is no need to explain why Matthys Gerber’s survey at the Museum of Contemporary Art is called Matthys Gerber, but curator Natasha Bullock tells us “it is in keeping with Gerber’s belief in the pre-eminence of the artist over art above all other considerations.” (Italics in the original) It’s not exactly … More


Aleks Danko and Haines & Hinterding

August 29, 2015
Aleks Danko, incident – Ambivalence, 1991-1992, wood, galvanised steel and synthetic polymer paint and varnish, Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with the assistance of stART, MCA Young Patrons, 1993, image courtesy and © the artist

There are many exhibitions that must have been fun for the artist but leave viewers in a state of mild perplexity. The Museum of Contemporary Art has two such shows at the moment – shows that can be broadly appreciated, but not loved. Energies, the survey by David Haines and Joyce Hinterding, is almost over, … More


Light Show

June 13, 2015
David Batchelor Magic Hour, 2004/2007. Installation view Light Show, Hayward Gallery, 2013 © the artist 2015. Photography: Marcus J Leith

Mention the Festival of Light in Sydney nowadays and most people will think of Vivid rather than the Reverend Fred Nile’s wowsers. This is only natural, as Sydney has always embraced hedonism more readily than morality. In seven years, Vivid – a festival devoted to “music, light and ideas” – has established a monumental presence. … More


Chuck Close

November 22, 2014
Chuck Close, Self Portrait, (2004).

Chuck Close has always denied being a “photorealist”, even when he was making huge black-and-white heads rendered in painstaking detail. It’s a mark of our complacency as viewers that we tend to see anything rendered in a precise, recognisable manner as “realist.” Chuck Close: Prints, Process and Collaboration at the Museum of Contemporary Art is … More


Annette Messager

September 6, 2014
Annette Messager, CHANCE, (2011), black net, wireImage courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris and New York

Annette Messager was born in the French provinces to a family of atheists who took a particular pleasure in the local Catholic church. Her father favoured the architecture, while Annette liked the stained glass windows. This biographical tidbit takes on significance when one considers the nature of Messager’s work, which draws freely on the iconography … More


Tabaimo

August 2, 2014
Tabaimo, Production image for mekuru meku ru 2014, Image courtesy the artist, James Cohan Gallery, New York and Shanghai, and Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo, © the artist

It would be fascinating to try and understand why some cultures are fixated on one artform more than others. The period we call the Golden Age in the Netherlands, which spanned the 17th century, produced one of history’s greatest flowerings of the visual arts but little in the way of notable literature or music. Britain, … More


19th Biennale of Sydney (Part 2)

April 19, 2014
Michael Cook, Majority Rule (Tunnel), 2014, inkjet print on paper, 98 x 140 cm or 140 x 200 cm.

In a dream I’m walking through a vast international exhibition with Juliana Engberg, director of the 19th Biennale of Sydney – You Imagine What You Desire. We both have notepads on which we list those works we find especially interesting. Strangely enough we never stop in front of the same work. The things I like, … More