political art

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Gilbert & George

December 4, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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


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