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Sydney Morning Herald Column

Dhaka Art Summit 2020

February 13, 2020

If one can measure progress by the volume of pollution and traffic congestion, Dhaka must be one of the most progressive cities on earth. In the two years since my last visit the fallout from a boom economy means that everything seems to have grown grimier, more manic, more chaotic. At some stage the construction […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

India Art Fair 2020

February 7, 2020

Seen one art fair, seen ‘em all? Not when it’s the India Art Fair in New Delhi. Like everything else on the subcontinent the premier commercial art event is very different in character to the fairs one sees in Europe or America, or even Hong Kong. This is largely because of its proudly provincial stance. […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Hugh Ramsay

January 31, 2020

“While it is undeniably a temptation to ask what might have been had Ramsay lived longer, the same is seldom asked of Keats,” writes curator, Deborah Hart, in the excellent catalogue that accompanies the Hugh Ramsay retrospective at the National Gallery of Australia. “Instead,” she continues, “let us contemplate and engage in the richness of […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Matisse & Picasso

January 10, 2020

Two boxers circling each other in the ring: a favourite image used to describe the relationship between Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. One wonders if it inspired those notorious promotional photos of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat as boxers in the 1980s. Indeed, it says a great deal about the evolution of the art market […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Water

January 7, 2020

As Australia burns it seems almost callous to call an exhibition Water. When this show was being planned the  curators at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art could hardly know it would coincide with one of the worst bushfire seasons of all time. They were more likely motivated by the drought that has dragged on since […]

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Sydney Morning Herald Column February 20, 2020

Perth Festival 2020: The Art

Sydney and Melbourne may consider themselves the nation’s cultural powerhouses but when it comes to the annual festivals Perth now has a greater commitment to the visual arts than any other city. In the years I’ve been attending the Perth Festival it’s never disappointed. First-time director, Iain Grandage, a composer, has put together an exceptional […]

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Film Reviews

Emma

There are many ways of reading Jane Austen (1775-1817). She may be the author who inspired every Mills & Boon romance but she is also one of the writers who feature in F.R.Leavis’s ‘Great Tradition’ of English literature along with George Eliot, Henry James, Joseph Conrad and D.H.Lawrence. What distinguishes Austen from the churners of […]

Film Reviews

Birds of Prey

February 13, 2020

Margot Robbie is not short of admirers nowadays but her performance in Birds of Prey (and the fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn), has to be seen to be believed. I usually feel my brain turning to jelly at the prospect of every new, big-budget superhero flick, but there’s something about this particular lump of […]

Film Reviews

A Hidden Life

February 7, 2020

Terrence Malick is the only Hollywood director to have translated a book by German philosopher, Martin Heidegger. I haven’t checked, but I’m fairly confident that Cecil B. DeMille or Steven Spielberg never felt the urge to dabble in the impenetrable utterances of the sage of Freiburg. Before he began making movies Malick lectured in philosophy. […]

Film Reviews

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

January 31, 2020

 “What the hell was that!?” said a colleague when we left the cinematheque after viewing A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. As the usual routine is that we all shuffle out avoiding eye contact, jealously guarding our tiny insights, such an exclamation was – to say the least – unusual. I only wish I could […]

Blog

Films of the Decade 2010-2019

December 19, 2019

Looking back over the past decade I was struck by the total disconnect between the highest-grossing films of the year and – for want of a better word – films of quality. Inevitably, the biggest box office hits are superhero movies, kids’ films, or franchises such as Harry Potter, James Bond or Star Wars. It’s […]

Blog

Matisse & Picasso: A First Look

It must have been tempting to call this exhibition Matisse v. Picasso, a bit like Batman v. Superman. The Australian public responds well to healthy competition, as demonstrated by the perennial mania for art prizes. Instead the National Gallery of Australia settled on the more dignified Matisse & Picasso as the title of its summer […]

Blog

A Model Collector

November 29, 2019

What happens to the rest of your life when Tom Wolfe declares you “Girl of the Year” in 1964? It’s a hard act to live up to, and even harder to sustain as time rolls by in its remorseless fashion. Fifty-five years later, “Baby Jane” Holzer is unfazed. I’m talking with this celebrated model, property […]

Blog

Japan Supernatural: A First Look

November 2, 2019

Curators will often describe an exhibition as a labour of love, but Japan Supernatural is more like a labour of fun. Melanie Eastburn has enjoyed working on the show for about a year-and-a-half, but has been carrying the idea around for much, much longer. Over the past few decades the Japanese fascination with ghosts, demons […]