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Sydney Morning Herald Column

Doug Aitken: New Era

November 30, 2021

Doug Aitken, born and based in California, is one of the most globalised of all contemporary artists. He once told an intervewer that “home can be motion” and his work sets out to prove that proposition. His projects are often conceived on a grand scale, requiring teams of collaborators. He makes video, photography, sculpture, performance, […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Valerie Olsen, William Kentridge

November 16, 2021

It would be wrong to say Valerie Marshall Strong Olsen waited a long time for her retrospective. Any suggestion of waiting disappeared with the artist’s death ten years ago. What makes this show at the National Art School’s Rayner Hoff Project Space so special is that it is also Olsen’s first-ever solo exhibition. Today, when […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Portia Geach Memorial Award 2021

November 9, 2021

Entering this year’s Portia Geach Memorial Award at the S.H. Ervin Galley means being virtually assaulted by Janne Kearney’s There’s a rainbow after every storm (Tilly Baker, musician). There may be nothing subtle about this portrait but it sets the tone for a show that greets the end of Sydney’s lockdown with a loud hooray! […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

The Way We Eat

In the western world we greet someone with the words: “How are you?” but in China they say: “Have you eaten?” It testifies to the central importance of food in Chinese culture – and perhaps the difficulties of getting enough of it over the past 5,000 years. The Way We Eat at the Art Gallery […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Dhambit Mununggurr, Karl Wiebke, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Helen Eager

October 26, 2021

Like all businesses in Sydney, the commercial galleries were quick to open their doors last week. Private and online sales have continued during lockdown but it must be reassuring to see flesh-and-blood customers again. First stop, for me, was Dhambit Mununggurr’s Durrk – I can fly, at the Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery. Like so many talented […]

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Blog December 7, 2021

Jeffrey Smart: Sketch for a Portrait

When an artist is said to be “traditional and progressive at the same time,” he can only be a great individualist. When this description comes from the director of the National Gallery of Australia, in his foreword to the catalogue of a major Jeffrey Smart exhibition, it suggests a good deal of uncertainty about where […]

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Matisse: A First Look

November 22, 2021

Henri Matisse burst onto the French art scene like a bombshell at the 1905 Salon d’Automne. Faced with paintings in vibrant colour, the public was scandalised. The 36-year-old Matisse and his colleagues were christened “les Fauves” – the wild beasts – and accused of being madmen and confidence tricksters. Although the show was an act […]

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Banksy: Love is in the Bin (Again)

October 14, 2021

It may seem ridiculous that anyone would pay £1.04 million (AUD $1.95 million), for Banksy’s Balloon Girl in 2018, but it’s slightly nauseating that a half-shredded version, rechristened Love is in the Bin, should be selling for £4-6 million in 2021. One might go even further and say Banksy’s entire career is a gravity-defying absurdity, […]

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The NGA gives itself a birthday present

September 27, 2021

Lest we forget, the price paid for Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles, was $1.3 million in 1973. A world record at the time, it was viewed as one of the keynote extravagances of the Whitlam government. Nevertheless, when the National Gallery of Australia opened in 1982 the painting was a major drawcard. It has since become […]

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Diana: Back in Bronze

July 17, 2021

If the British Royal Family wished to underline their status as an antiquated institution, out of touch with the present day, they could hardly do better than commission a larger-than-life-size bronze statue of Diana, Princess of Wales. The bronze monument of The Great Man (and occasionally, Woman) is a throwback to Victorian times which implicitly […]