portraiture

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William Robinson: Genesis

August 31, 2018

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. Perhaps the strangest part in these famous words from the Book of Genesis is the emphasis on the word “was”. It makes God sounds like an audio … More


Salon des Refusés 2018

June 29, 2018

After the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW have plucked the choicest morsels from the Archibald and Wynne buffet, it’s left to the Salon des Refusés to clean up the leftovers. This time there was less to choose from, as the Incredible Expanding Archibald Prize had swelled to 59 finalists, removing many good options … More


The Archibald Prize 2018

May 11, 2018

Well I got it completely wrong this year, although Vincent Namatjira got a “highly commended” as runner-up. Yvette Coppersmith’s Archibald Prize winner: Self-portrait after George Lambert wouldn’t have been in my top 20. After due consideration, it still wouldn’t be in my top 20. It seems to me like a stiff, mannered picture that bears … More


Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium

November 17, 2017

It may be the acid test of political correctness but it should be possible to dislike Robert Mapplethorpe’s work without being viewed as homophobic. Mapplethorpe often said he didn’t wish to be known as a “gay artist”, but he is such an icon for the LGBT community it’s virtually impossible to dissociate his work from … More


Salon des Refusés 2017

August 3, 2017

Every year I nurture a dim fantasy of a Salon des Refusés bristling with masterpieces rejected from the Archibald and Wynne Prizes by the Trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW. Every year I relinquish this thought almost as soon as I step into the S.H.Ervin Gallery. The Refusés was a great idea when it … More


The 2017 Archibald Prize

July 28, 2017

By the usual Archibald Prize standards 2017 is a low key year. There are plenty of neat, correct entries, a touch of quirkiness, a bit of thick impasto, but nothing to get the pulse racing with delight or indignation. Unless, perhaps, you’re a lunatic right-winger who starts to foam at the mouth at the merest … More


David Hockney

August 4, 2016

“Los Angeles is an acquired taste,” says David Hockney, although he admits he fell for the city on his very first visit in 1964. After growing up in Yorkshire, Hockney was excited by the “eroticism” of L.A. It was like nothing he’d seen or imagined. To a young, gay artist from Britain’s gloomy north it … More


Ann & Sophie Cape

October 9, 2015

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


The Archibald Prize 2015

July 18, 2015

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


Salon des Refusés 2014

August 9, 2014

So much has already been written about Sydney’s $9.3 million public sculpture proposals that I’m in two minds whether to comment or leave it alone. Nevertheless, it’s an issue that won’t go away. It’s depressing that the very idea of a city council spending money on art brings out the philistine in a large proportion … More


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