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Sydney Morning Herald Column

William Yang: Seeing & Being Seen

April 5, 2021

William Yang is a Sydney institution but a Queenslander born and bred. Last week he was reclaimed by his state of origin for a retrospective at the Queensland Art Gallery that allows us to read one artist’s career as a tale of social evolution. Even allowing for the wrong turnings of the present day, over […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Clarice Beckett: The Present Moment

March 30, 2021

On a rainy day in Sydney it feels completely appropriate to be writing about Clarice Beckett. She was an artist for whom the ideal atmospheric conditions were overcast, a bit misty. Her work is all about the weather. As a subject it couldn’t be more commonplace but it transports us into a realm of indistinct […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Papunya Tula: 50 Years 1971-2021

After 50 years the Papunya Tula Art Movement has carved out a deep niche in Australian art history, but the settlement itself was a desolate place born from a long history of misunderstandings and misguided policies. The one and only time I visited Papunya, roughly 240 kms north-west of Alice Springs, it was almost deserted. […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Margel Hinder

March 16, 2021

When Margel Hinder told an interviewer in 1972 that she was “terribly thrilled by all the television towers” it may have sounded like a joke about Sydney’s suburban sprawl, but she was probably quite sincere. Hinder drew inspiration from both natural and mechanical forms, being as fascinated by a spider web as by a metal […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Bill Henson

March 13, 2021

A new exhibition by Bill Henson is always an event – an eruption of the extraordinary into the fabric of everyday life. That hyper-productive philosopher, Slavoj Žižek, suggests that for most people the fundamental earth-shattering event is falling in love. Why would we describe this process as a “fall” if it wasn’t in some way […]

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Blog April 14, 2021

Guy Warren 100 not out

Australia’s oldest artist, Guy Warren, is getting tired of being asked: “What’s the secret of a long life?” His answer is very simple: “You just have to keep living.” When Warren gets down to detail he says it’s a matter of “good genes, good luck and a whiskey every night.” Beyond that he doesn’t know […]

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Film Reviews

The Trial of the Chicago 7

April 9, 2021

This year’s Academy Awards is shaping up as an unusually open event. From the eight nominees for Best Picture there are three by female directors, three more made for streaming platforms, with only a limited theatrical release. The directors are French, English, African-American, Korean-American and Chinese-American, with only three fitting the standard white male template. […]

Film Reviews

The Father

April 2, 2021

One rarely hears the adjective “Pinteresque” any more but it came surging to mind as I watched The Father. The edginess of Harold Pinter’s plays owed much to the way he incorporated elements of the Theatre of the Absurd (to use Martin Esslin’s wellknown term), without ever losing touch with plausible reality. In adapting his […]

Film Reviews

French Exit

March 26, 2021

How you feel about French Exit will largely come down to your feelings about Michelle Pfeiffer – one of those timeless screen beauties with an army of rusted-on admirers. Pfeiffer dominates Azazel Jacobs’s offbeat comedy so completely that even when she isn’t on screen her presence can still be felt. Yet the cost of this […]

Film Reviews

Judas and the Black Messiah

March 20, 2021

“Fred Hampton” may not be a name that rings any bells, but after watching Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah you wont be forgetting it quickly. This historical drama of the 60s is driven by a memorable performance by Daniel Kaluuya in the role of the youthful Black Panther supremo. King’s theme, needless to […]

Blog

Monet: Larger & Lighter

April 2, 2021

There are worse ways to spend an hour than being surrounded by gigantic projections of Impressionist paintings while listening to the greatest hits of the Belle Époque, but don’t imagine that Monet & Friends – Life, Light and Colour is an art exhibition. This audio-visual extravaganza is a spectacle with one foot in the past, […]

Blog

Santiago Sierra: Union Flag

March 26, 2021

If Santiago Sierra had decided to go to Charlottesville, Virginia, and soak the Stars and Stripes in native American or African American blood he would have had the most explosive artwork in the world. In the United States the flag is a sacred talisman for nationalist groups, including every form of extremist. Can one begin […]

Blog

Botticelli to Van Gogh

March 9, 2021

Why Botticelli? In an exhibition in which the first room includes remarkable paintings by Titian, Tintoretto and Savoldo, Botticelli’s Four scenes from the early life of Saint Zenobius (c.1500) is not exactly a highlight. The painting belongs to a class of decoration called spalliere – a long, horizontal panel that was inserted into a wall […]

Blog

Fare thee well, Liz Ann

March 6, 2021

Retiring after 22 years at the helm of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Liz Ann Macgregor still inspires mixed feelings. She arrived in 1999 in a burst of Scottish exotica, a veritable blur of tartan, and says she is now returning from whence she came. Possibly Macgregor’s most notable achievement was to steer the institution […]