Museum of Contemporary Art

Telling Tales

July 1, 2016

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

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

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

“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

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

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

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 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 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

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