political art

Chinese New Year Lunar Lanterns & In Your Dreams

February 23, 2018
Happy Year of the Dog! Song Ling's canine contribution guards the Opera House

Bread and circuses was the classical world’s formula for keeping the population happy. The famous phrase originates in Juvenal’s 10th Satire, when the poet laments that Romans have become so blasé about the political process they are happy to sell their votes for grain handouts and lavish public entertainments. With the NSW Government proposing to … More


Istanbul – The Art of Optimism

October 6, 2017
Sukran Moral, 'Hit-and-Run My Heart!' (2016)

“We are a thin-skinned country,” admitted Selim Yenel, “We are intolerant.” There was no argument from the international journalists assembled around the table. In the face of successive questions about government censorship and repression, the Undersecretary of the Turkish Ministry for EU Affairs Ambassador provided answers no-one could dispute. Asked about the political persecution of … More


The Public Body.02

August 18, 2017
Regina José Galindo, a different take on real estate

Our age is one of unprecedented permissiveness and militant puritanism. Pornography of every description is available at the click of a keyboard, small children are sexualised in a manner that would have been inconceivable to our grandparents’ generation. Yet Newton’s third law applies in psychology as well as science: for every action, there is an … More


Defying Empire

August 9, 2017
Archie Moore, Aboriginal Anarchy (2012)

During the Howard years we were constantly hearing about the Culture Wars – a term borrowed from the United States, pertaining to the battle between conservative and liberal values. In Australia the conflict became fixated on whether this continent had been taken by force from its original inhabitants, and what reparations were due. It was … More


Kader Attia

July 1, 2017
Kader Attia, watching heads from J'Accuse (2016)

If ever an artist were attuned to the temper of our times it is Kader Attia (b.1970). Following a successful showing in Documenta 13 in 2012, this French-Algerian creator of multimedia installations and videos has since become one of the most sought-after artists in the world. The piece that made such a powerful impression was … More


El Anatsui

February 4, 2016
EL ANATSUI, Adinkra Sasa (detail), 2003, fabric, aluminum and copper wire, 488 × 549 cm. Photo by Michael Young for ArtAsiaPacific

El Anatsui makes one feel there might actually be some substance in the talk of a globalised art world. The idea that artists from places other than Europe and America can be players on the contemporary scene has been around ever since Jean-Hubert Martin’s landmark exhibition, Magiciens de la Terre, held at the Centre Pompidou … More


Gilbert & George

December 4, 2015
GILBERT & GEORGE: THE ART EXHIBITION
Gentlemen of the gutter: Gilbert & George. Photo: Jay Brooks/Camera Press/AustralS

In the Victorian era the English were masters of the world, known for imperial glory and the strength of their civil institutions. But what are the English known for today? According to English doctor, Theodore Dalrymple: “for their militant vulgarity, their lack of restraint, their arrogant loudness, their ferocious and determined drunkenness, their antisocial egotism, … 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


White Rabbit: Commune

November 1, 2014
Jiang Jin, 'The Orphan Files', (2004)

In the words of the Chinese philosopher, Mencius, “we survive in adversity and perish in ease and comfort.” This thought may be universally applicable but it is especially relevant to China today, as the horrors of the 20th century recede into the mists. It has been almost 40 years since the end of the Cultural … More


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