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Art Essays

Art Essays

William Robinson, Aida Tomescu, Evelyn Kotai

Saturday, August 25th, 2012 Art Essays, Australian Art, Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Fred Williams used to say that if you can’t paint a portrait then your art is in trouble. He would have been surprised to see so many portraits included in his recent retrospective, as they were only ever a diversion from his landscape paintings. For an artist there is always the danger that one day […]

Art Essays

Robert Hughes, 1938 – 2012

Sunday, August 19th, 2012 Australian Art, Blog, General Art Essays, International Art,

When Robert Hughes died last week, I spent much of the day on the telephone. Inevitably, the passing of this great, controversial figure was a media event of the first order. Among the mass of small comments I had to produce, the Sydney Morning Herald asked for a quick 500 words. The following day the […]

Art Essays

Napoleon: Revolution to Empire

Saturday, August 18th, 2012 International Art, Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Napoleon: Revolution to Empire, the latest in the National Gallery of Victoria’s popular series, ‘Melbourne Winter Masterpieces’, presents an exceptionally positive view of a problematic figure. Visitors with no prior knowledge of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) might be forgiven for thinking that he and his first wife, Josephine, were two nouveau riche social climbers who went […]

Art Essays

Melbourne Art Fair 2012

Saturday, August 11th, 2012 Australian Art, Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Another Melbourne Art Fair, another chance to take the unsteady pulse of the local art market. With no hard data about turnover, a hasty prognosis would suggest the sector is still feeling the pain, although smiling through tears. Every year the Fair commissions a major work that is subsequently gifted to a public gallery. This […]

Art Essays

Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial 2012

Saturday, August 4th, 2012 Australian Art, International Art, Sydney Morning Herald Column,

When Japan was devastated by the Tohoku earthquake on 11 March last year, one of the casualties was a century-old farm house in the tiny community of Urada, in the mountains near Tokamachi City. Less than two years previously this building had been designated ‘Australia House’ at the 2009 Echigo Tsumari Art Triennial (ETT), serving […]

Art Essays

Portrait of Spain

Saturday, July 28th, 2012 Art Essays, International Art, Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Over the years one grows wary of the claims made for so-called ‘blockbuster’ exhibitions. Each new show is the biggest, the best, the first, the most important. It is, therefore, a pleasure to see an exhibition that lives up to its pre-publicity. None of the 100 works borrowed for Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the […]

Art Essays

I Am Eleven, The Curse of the Gothic Symphony

Saturday, July 21st, 2012 Art Essays, Film Reviews, Other Writing,

Screening opportunities are limited for Australian filmmakers, let alone documentary makers who may only expect to recoup their costs through TV and DVD sales. Two new efforts, I Am Eleven and The Curse of the Gothic Symphony, are currently enjoying the novelty of limited releases in cinemas around Australia. I Am Eleven by rookie film-maker, […]

Art Essays

Kamisaka Sekka & Hiroshige

Saturday, July 21st, 2012 Art Essays, International Art, Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Art in Japan has been through all the same upheavals as art in the west, but no other country has managed to retain so much of its own distinctive character. The defining characteristics include a respect for tradition that shines through even in a critical or satirical mode; a love of beauty and craftsmanship; and […]

Art Essays

18th Biennale of Sydney

Saturday, July 14th, 2012 Aboriginal Art, Art Essays, Australian Art, Chinese Art, International Art, Sydney Morning Herald Column,

One of the most striking images in the 18th Biennale of Sydney is that of Japanese artist Sachiko Abe, dressed in bridal white, sitting in a small brick building in Cockatoo Island, cutting paper. Visitors are asked to remain silent, so the only sound is the noise made by Abe’s scissors as she trims sheets […]

Art Essays

Portrait of Spain (a preview)

Saturday, July 7th, 2012 Art Essays, International Art, Sydney Morning Herald Column,

For a visitor to the Museo del Prado in Madrid one moment stays fixed in the memory: entering the central gallery to be confronted by Diego Velasquez’s masterpiece, Las Meninas (1665). The most dramatic way of approaching the painting is to see it framed by a doorway from the other side of the room. There […]