Museum of Contemporary Art

Jenny Watson

September 8, 2017
Jenny Watson, '60s Dolly Bird' (2014)

One imagines teachers at the Julian Ashton Art School sending their pupils across the road to the Museum of Contemporary Art, to see Jenny Watson: The Fabric of Fantasy. For the traditionally-minded it’s an object lesson in how not to make art. If there are any cynics among those students, they might say: “…nevertheless, it … More


Tatsuo Miyajima

January 27, 2017
Tatsuo Miyajima, Pile Up Life No. 2, 2009/2016, installation view, Tatsuo Miyajima: Connect with Everything, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, 2016, waterproof LED, IC, fibre-reinforced plastics, electric wire, transformer, image courtesy and © the artist, photograph: Alex Davies

Tatsuo Miyajima is the kind of artist who stands out, even in the largest of exhibitions. My first glimpse of his work came at the 1988 Venice Biennale where his Sea of Time was the most talked-about piece on display. Amidst all the derivative and nondescript stuff that inhabits the specially curated component of the … More


Louise Hearman

October 15, 2016
An image of Untitled #1279 by Louise Hearman

Smokers who have become desensitised to the horror photos on cigarette packets may be surprised to find the same images exquisitely rendered in paintings at the Museum of Contemporary Art. In a survey of Louise Hearman’s work, a glass case in a side room offers an insight into the strange, unsettling pictures found in the … More


LOUISE HEARMAN: AGAINST THE GRAIN

October 14, 2016
Untitled #1118, 2005, oil on composition board, Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Michael Hawker, 2009

I think I surrendered obediently to the secret laws which led me to form, as best as I could, and following my dream, the things into which I have put my entire being.[1] Odilon Redon, To Myself Like Des Esseintes, the antihero of Huysmans’s cult novel of 1884, Against the Grain (À rebours), Louise Hearman … More


Telling Tales

July 1, 2016
Shirley Purdie, Daaloony (Green Plum Buchanania Obovata) from the series Goowoolem Gijam – Gija plants, 2013-16, ochre on canvas, 72 parts: 45 × 45 cm each, image courtesy the artist and Warmun Art Centre © the artist/Licensed by Viscopy 2016, photograph: Jessica Maurer

At the 1986 Adelaide Festival I attended a couple of evenings with American actor, Spalding Gray, who sat on a bare stage and delivered monologues. It sounds like a recipe for boredom but Gray’s performances were spell-binding – a revelation as to the power of simple, unadulterated story-telling. In tribal cultures the role of story-telling … More


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