political art

Roger Brown

April 12, 2014
Roger Brown, 'Untitled (Figure/Tree/Shrubs)'
c. 1968

In a week in which former President George W. Bush revealed his secret passion for painting it’s a neat coincidence that the Hughes Gallery is holding a survey of Roger Brown (1941-97), a Chicago artist with a fascination for politics. Having spent much of his working life in an era in which New York was … More


German idols

November 5, 2011
mgb11_ai_wei_wei_16_portrait_LIGHTHOCH

In Germany, Ai Weiwei is the new Joseph Beuys. I arrived at this conclusion in Berlin, after seeing an exhibition of film footage of Joseph Beuys in Japan, at the Hamburger Bahnhof; and a show of 220 photos by Ai Weiwei, at the Martin-Gropius Bau. I’ve been in Deutschland for a conference on the Chinese … More


White Rabbit: Beyond the Frame

October 8, 2011
Ai Weiwei, Oil Spill, 2006

Back again is Ai Weiwei’s Oil spill (2007) – a series of shiny black porcelain discs that sit flat on the floor, mimicking drops of black gold. In typical fashion, Ai Weiwei takes a substance associated with toxic pollution and transforms it into an aesthetic delicacy. Such ironic turnarounds and dislocations are characteristic of his … More


The Mad Square

September 3, 2011
Rudolph Schlichter, Tingel tangel

It happens from time to time that I fail to distinguish a cabaret from a crematorium – Joseph Roth From its traumatic birth, at the end of World War One, the Weimar Republic was an unstable experiment. The historian, Eric Hobsbawm charts its rise and fall in an introductory essay for the catalogue of The … More


Din Q. Lê: Erasure, Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2011

August 27, 2011
Dinh Q. Lê Erasure, 2011 digital video (still) Courtesy the artist and Sàn Art Independent Artist Space, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

It was astonishing to learn that in a recent opinion poll Australians rated border protection as a more important issue than health, education, transport or housing. This is one of those statistical miracles that testify to our growing sense of social paranoia and the power of political scare campaigns. The facts are well known but … More


The last days of the Caponian empire

August 9, 2011
Locust Jones, News of the world

What a deathly year it has been for artists! In quick succession we have lost Cy Twombly, Lucian Freud, and now John Hoyland. The latter was especially disturbing, as I had just contributed a catalogue essay to his exhibition with Charles Nodrum in Melbourne. Logically there is nothing surprising about someone dying at a ripe … More


Surrealism at GoMA

July 30, 2011
Rene Magritte, Les marches de l'ete ( The summer steps) (detail) 1938

“This life is a hospital in which every patient is tormented by the yearning to move to another bed. – André Breton It’s probably been said many times, but Queensland is a highly appropriate setting for a Surrealism show. Not only does one meet the most surreal personalities north of the border, only a few … More


Jim Anderson / Phillip Juster

February 26, 2011
Screen shot 2012-06-30 at 10.59.34 PM

“I have tried too in my time to be a philosopher,” said Dr. Johnson to his biographer, Boswell, “but I don’t know how, cheerfulness was always breaking in.” Seeing the exhibition, Lampoon: An Art Historical Trajectory 1970-2010, I thought these lines were oddly appropriate for Jim Anderson. In a retrospective at Sydney University’s Tin Sheds … More


Shen Jiawei: the Art of Politics

August 1, 2010

Shen Jiawei became an artist during the Cultural Revolution, making his first major works in the service of the state, embodied in the figure of the Great Helmsman, Mao Zedong. For roughly a decade, from 1966 onwards, every aspect of daily life in China was politicised in a way that seems to defy logic. It … More


Art & Politics

January 15, 2003
Mike Parr, Malevich (A Political Arm), performance for as long as possible

There was a period of about a decade, starting from the early-to-mid 1980s, when every major art event had to be accompanied by an extensive series of forums. These talk-fests were often boring, and always inconclusive. Some participants gave the impression of having done no preparation whatsoever, others had written papers of impenetrable, theoretical complexity. … More


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