painting

A Retrospective of Chinese Archibald Finalists

August 1, 2015
Song Ling, 'My name is Fartunate – self-portrait', (2011), acrylic on canvas, 198 x 198cm

When the Archibald Prize was first awarded in 1921 it was a strictly Caucasian affair. There was not much colour to the artists or their paintings – mostly brown pictures of men in suits. The riotous creations currently lining the walls at the Art Gallery of NSW would have seemed like bad jokes to the … More


The Archibald Prize 2015

July 18, 2015
Winner: Archibald Prize 2015, Nigel Milsom, Judo house pt 6 (the white bird), oil on linen, 232 x 190 cm.

There was such a hullaballoo about the Packing Room Prize this year one might have thought that former Frenchman, Bruno Grasswill, had won both the Archibald and several versions of the Nobel Prize. In fact, he had won the kiss-of-death award, traditionally given to a picture of a good bloke or a good sort, as … More


William Dobell: Painter in Paradise

July 4, 2015
WILLIAM DOBELL,
'Head of Kuta girl' (1953)
oil on hardboard, 45 x 34 cm.
Private collection

Although he was one of Australia’s best-known artists, William Dobell (1899-1970) was inordinately sensitive to criticism. After the notorious court case over his Archibald Prize win of 1943, Dobell withdrew to his hideaway in Wangi where he suffered from a series of nervous complaints. He broke out in severe dermatitis and at one point lost … More


FROM GALLIPOLI

May 2, 2015
Deirdre Bean, Image 1: 'Cape Helles', 2014, watercolour on paper and vellum. Image 2: '303 inch British Mk VII', 2014, watercolour on paper and vellum. Courtesy the artist

There’s a lonely stretch of hillocks: There’s a beach asleep and drear: There’s a battered broken fort beside the sea. There are sunken trampled graves: And a little rotting pier: And winding paths that wind unceasingly. There’s a torn and silent valley: There’s a tiny rivulet With some blood upon the stones beside its mouth. … More


Anzac Evolution

April 25, 2015
Image courtesy James Compton

Looking at Australia in the years before and after the First World War, one feels like asking: “What went wrong?” There was so much happening in those early years of nationhood, so many glorious ideals forged in the war itself, that the post-war years can only be seen as a lost opportunity. Constitutional historian, Helen … More


Robert Campbell Jr.

April 18, 2015
Robert Campbell Jnr, 'Giver of Life' (1986). Photograph: Artbank

Artbank, the Australian government’s art rental agency, has been around since 1980. It was an initiative of a Fraser administration returned to power for a third consecutive term that year – a reminder of an era when both sides of politics took an active interest in the arts. By contrast, today’s politicians seem completely devoid … More


FROM GALLIPOLI

April 18, 2015
Luke Sciberras, 'Along the
Gallipoli Peninsula', 2014, oil on board, 60 x 84cm

When George Lambert travelled to the battlefields of Gallipoli in February 1919 he found a landscape transformed into “a perfect rabbit warren’, riven with trenches and littered with bones. “The jackals, damn them were chorusing their hate, the bones showed up white even in the faint dawn, and I felt rotten,” he wrote. “The worst … More


Michael Schlieper (1947-2015)

April 18, 2015
Michael Schlieper, 'But What's Behind It?'

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


Roy Jackson

March 28, 2015
Roy Jackson, The burial of the Sardine (from the novel by Arrabal), acrylic on canvas, (1985/86) Private Collection

In an era when art has plumbed new depths of frivolity, Roy Jackson (1944-2013) was almost too serious for his own good. He stubbornly believed the only thing that counted was the quality of the work, not the ephemeral ego gratifications artists enjoy during their 15 minutes of fame. He wasn’t even sure about the … More


Colin Lanceley 1938-2015

March 7, 2015
Colin Lanceley, 'Songs of a summer night (Lynne's garden)' (1985)

Although he withdrew from the art scene suffering from declining health and a growing sense of disenchantment, Colin Lanceley’s work was one long chorus of joie-de-vivre. To look at his paintings from any period is to see an artist who believed, with Matisse, that art should be a celebration of life and beauty. In Lanceley’s … More


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