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Sydney Morning Herald Column

Ultra Unreal

August 9, 2022

Things have been quiet at the Museum of Contemporary Art this year, but Ultra Unreal aims at a reboot. It’s an exhibition that pushes beyond the contemporary, drawing us into virtual realms, both futuristic and animistic. These imaginary worlds have been created by new technology and populated with supernatural beings. It all sounds breathlessly exciting. […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

The Hadley’s Art Prize 2022 & MONA

August 2, 2022

Unlike Errol Flynn and Douglas Mawson, I’d never stayed at Hadley’s Orient Hotel in Hobart – until it hosted an art prize. Established in 1834, Hadley’s is one of the oldest hotels in Australia, and it trades lavishly on its historical connections. There are plenty of hotels that are more up-to-date and luxurious, but not […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

White Rabbit: I Loved You

July 26, 2022

Anybody who has seen the Marriage Market in Shanghai’s People Park will never imagine the Chinese as a nation of desperate romantics. Every weekend the Market is swarming with parents eager secure an advantageous match for their son or daughter. One gets the impression that marriage is primarily an economic transaction, with love being a […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Robert Wilson: Moving Portraits

July 19, 2022

Germany’s all-time literary giant, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, once suggested to Caspar David Friedrich he should paint landscapes that systematically depicted each type of cloud identified in a famous treatise. Friedrich, by all accounts, was horrified at the suggestion. Being atttracted by the freedom and mutability of clouds, he resisted the idea of placing them […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Colin Lanceley: Earthly Delights

July 5, 2022

For more than a thousand years the west was obsessed with the classical culture of Greece and Rome. In the cyber-age of today when all knowledge is available on the mobile phone, we can barely remember the cultural achievements of the past twenty years. This is partly because those who have been entrusted to preserve […]


Film Reviews August 12, 2022


Jordan Peel has enjoyed a meteoric rise from the margins to the mainstream in the space of only three features. Peel’s debut effort, Get Out (2017), had all the hallmarks of a cult classic. An off-beat zombie movie with a political subtext, it gave a dark, satirical twist to those racial anxieties that have divided […]

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Film Reviews

Full Time & Juniper

August 6, 2022

If you’ve been to Paris and not experienced a demonstration or strike, you’ve missed one of the quintessentially French cultural experiences. Perhaps it’s a legacy of the Revolution, but  Parisians have never been shy about taking their grievances to the streets. It’s tremendously stirring for those doing the marching and chanting, but a pain for […]

Film Reviews

The Forgiven

July 29, 2022

No-one is ever really “forgiven” in a film scripted and directed by John Michael McDonagh, or his brother, Martin. Like the Coens or Jim Jarmusch, the McDonaghs specialise in overturning the cinema’s age-old storytelling conventions. In a James Bond movie, for instance, a large part of the audience’s pleasure comes from watching the same predictable […]

Film Reviews

Official Competition

July 23, 2022

Hubris, which comes from Greek tragedy, means “excessive pride or self-confidence”. Official Competition begins with a grand display of hubris, as a billionaire businessman commissions a movie as a monument to himself. It won’t be just any old flick but an instant cinema classic intended to win prestigious awards and stand the test of time. […]

Film Reviews

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song

July 16, 2022

Hallelujah, the Hebrew word of praise for the Lord, is all over the Old Testament. How strange, but how very typical of our contemporary neediness and confusion, that Leonard Cohen’s song of that name should have become a secular pop anthem for our times. Daniel Geller and Dayna Golding’s innovative documentary, Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A […]


The Archibald Prize 2022: Blak Douglas is the winner

May 14, 2022

Politics is never far away from the Archibald prize, but it’s often that nebulous strain called “art politics”. This year, with the winner being announced in the middle of a federal election campaign, it was always going to be hard to keep attention focused on the aesthetics. Blak Douglas (AKA. Adam Hill), proved to be […]


Peter Powditch: Remarks at a Memorial Exhibition

May 13, 2022

I feel like a bit of a fraud opening Peter Powditch’s memoral show, when so many other people in this room knew him a lot better than I did. – I didn’t ‘get’ Peter’s work at all when I first encountered it and didn’t meet him until some time after I’d first written – rather […]


The Archibald Prize 2022: A First Look

May 9, 2022

It was predictable that after last year’s orgiastic celebrations of the Archibald Prize’s hundredth birthday, the following year would bring the hangover. But it’s not worth complaining about the quality of the 2022 exhibition, as the Archibald is never better than mediocre, with a few standouts. The dominant aspect of this year’s selection is a […]


Ken Whisson 1927 – 2022

May 6, 2022

Ken Whisson was one of the great originals of Australian art. Had he ever become a household name he would have felt something was wrong. Whisson had no desire to live or paint in a conventional way. Like Giacometti, even when he began to sell work for higher prices he continued to live like a […]