S.H. Ervin Gallery

Salon des Refusés 2015 & Stars + Stripes

August 8, 2015
Paul Trefry, 'Homeless still human', silicone, fiberglass, horse hair, and polyester resin

Archibald season demands to be taken seriously because it’s the only time of the year most of the public feel motivated to visit the Art Gallery of NSW and associated venues. During the Archibald Prize the AGNSW is full of people – a surge in visitation that has become more crucial than ever. With both … More


William Dobell: Painter in Paradise

July 4, 2015
WILLIAM DOBELL,
'Head of Kuta girl' (1953)
oil on hardboard, 45 x 34 cm.
Private collection

Although he was one of Australia’s best-known artists, William Dobell (1899-1970) was inordinately sensitive to criticism. After the notorious court case over his Archibald Prize win of 1943, Dobell withdrew to his hideaway in Wangi where he suffered from a series of nervous complaints. He broke out in severe dermatitis and at one point lost … More


Roy Jackson

March 28, 2015
Roy Jackson, The burial of the Sardine (from the novel by Arrabal), acrylic on canvas, (1985/86) Private Collection

In an era when art has plumbed new depths of frivolity, Roy Jackson (1944-2013) was almost too serious for his own good. He stubbornly believed the only thing that counted was the quality of the work, not the ephemeral ego gratifications artists enjoy during their 15 minutes of fame. He wasn’t even sure about the … More


Five Decades at Watters Gallery

September 27, 2014
Richard Larter, 'Pause for thought' (detail) (1973)

On 18 November Watters Gallery will be celebrating its 50th birthday. This is an amazing achievement in a field in which most players never make it through a decade. Commercial art galleries are the economic equivalents of the canary in the coal mine – being the first to suffer in times of recession as people … More


Salon des Refusés 2014

August 9, 2014
Nick Stathopoulo, Ugly, Portrait of Robert Hoge, acrylic and oil on linen

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


Arthur Boyd: An Active Witness

June 28, 2014
Arthur Boyd, Australia, (1920 – 1999), 'Persecuted lovers', 1957-58.

Arthur Boyd (1920-99) was one of Australian art’s leading painters and one of its greatest mysteries. In the preface to her comprehensive biography, published in 2007, Darleen Bungey quotes Boyd’s youngest daughter, Polly, who calls her father “an enigma, probably one of the most secret people on earth.” This also acts as a disclaimer for … More


Bill Brown

May 3, 2014
Bill Brown, 'Canard' (2010), acrylic on canvas, 92 X 97cm. Photography: Mikaela Burstow

Many years ago, when I was still a baby art critic, I remember Bill Brown at a party bawling drunkenly that he was the best painter in Australia. Having never seen his work I was in no position to argue. Shortly afterwards, Brown had a solo exhibition at the old Macquarie Galleries. If he was … More


Utzon’s Opera House

January 6, 2014
Rew Hanks, Eternity, 2006, coloured linocut.

“It has made me feel glad I am alive in Australia today,” wrote Patrick White in 1965, after a tour of the Sydney Opera House with architect, Jorn Utzon. “At last we are going to have something worth having.” The official opening in 1973 was overshadowed by the long and painful building process, which began … More


Windows to the Sacred

September 14, 2013
Aleister Crowley, The Hierophant (study for Tarot), 1921

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,” was the personal motto of Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) once known to the headline writers as “the Great Beast” and “The Wickedest Man Alive.” It was a philosophy that would endear him to the counter-culture of the sixties and make him a hero for rock … More


Salon de Refusés 2013 & Jenny Sages

April 20, 2013
Jenny Sages, Irina Baranova (handing on the baton), 2007, oil and encaustic on board

This year’s Archibald Prize was one of the most even contests in decades, but also one of the least memorable. There have been pictures in previous competitions that would have romped home in this year’s field, but the luck and timing was with Del Kathryn Barton, not with the ghosts of Archibalds past. If there … More


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