painting

Guy Warren

April 29, 2016
Guy Warren, Bathers (2), 1957

Guy Warren is the best proof that a positive attitude is the secret of eternal youth. Having just turned 95, Warren seems as vital as ever. I’ve known him for about 30 years and he hardly seems to have changed. He’s still painting and drawing, still driving, still alert and articulate. He’s one of those … More


Destination Sydney

January 22, 2016
Brett Whiteley, The balcony 2', (1975). AGNSW collection.

Destination Sydney is an inelegant title. It may be that Australian audiences only respond to the most banal and descriptive titles but that’s no reason for making shows sound like tourism initiatives. At the risk of coming across as a snob, I can only describe it as vulgar. Complaint registered, I’m happy to record that … More


Right Here Now

January 15, 2016
Jessie Pangas, 'House of Congress', 2015, synthetic polymer paint on linen, 91.5×91.5 cm. Courtesy the artist

Regional galleries: the crisis that never ends. A few weeks ago I was invited to Canberra by the Museum of Democracy at Old Parliament House to view a show called Right Here Now: A Powerful Regional Voice in our Democracy. This event, which has been put together by freelance curators, Holly Williams, Ivan Muñiz Reed … More


Tarnanthi

January 7, 2016
Yvonne Koolmatrie, Ngarrindjeri people, South Australia, Shrimp scoop, 2015, spiny-headed sedge (Cyperus gymnocaulos); Acquisition through TARNANTHI | Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art supported by BHP Billiton 2015, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. Courtesy the artist and Aboriginal & Pacific Art, Sydney, photo: Jenni Carter.

“In the Kaurna language of the Adelaide Plains,” writes curator, Nici Cumston, “Tarnanthi means ‘to rise, come forth, spring up or appear’. It heralds the animation of new ideas and new beginnings such as the rising sun, a universal metaphor across cultures for the agency of imagination.” Tarnanthi is the title of new Festival of … More


Country & Western

November 13, 2015
William Robinson, 'Shaded pool Carnarvon', oil on canvas, 92 x 122cm, 2008, Rockhampton Art Gallery collection

As Country & Western: landscape re-imagined tours Australia, it will leave a trail of disappointed music fans. The title seems to promise some mystical conjunction of landscape painting and Slim Dusty. In reality it’s all landscape. At the S.H.Ervin Gallery there is not even the sound of a guitar twanging in the background. It makes … More


The Greats

October 30, 2015
John Singer Sargent, 'Lady Agnew of Lochnaw' (1892)

At the Art Gallery of NSW the dream of a gleaming new building has become so intoxicating that management seems to have forgotten about the humdrum business of exhibitions. This has been slightly frustrating for old-fashioned types like myself who would prefer the gallery to be a place to see art, rather than a glorified urban … 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


Ann & Sophie Cape

October 9, 2015
Ann Cape, 'Solitude', 2015, oil on canvas, 122 x 91.5cm

Today is World Mental Health Day and the last day of National Mental Health Week. Admittedly, such events always make me think of Tom Lehrer’s song, National Brotherhood Week – “Step up and shake the hand of someone you can’t stand…” and so on. The singer notes in his introduction that Malcolm X was killed … More


Robert MacPherson

September 19, 2015
Robert MacPherson
Mayfair: Bethonga Gold, for B.T.O's 1995-2006
National Gallery of Australia

If Robert MacPherson (b. 1937) were a character in a novel he would test the reader’s credulity. It’s hard to believe in the idea of a conceptual artist raised in a Queensland country town, who left school early to work in a cannery and then as a musterer at a cattle station. By the age … More


Peter Godwin

September 12, 2015
Peter Godwin. Photography Stephen Oxenbury

It’s not what the artist does that counts, but what he is. Cézanne would never have interested me a bit if he had lived and thought like Jacques-Émile Blanche, even if the apple he painted had been ten times as beautiful. What forces our attention is Cézanne’s anxiety – that’s Cézanne’s lesson. ” Pablo Picasso … More