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Sydney Morning Herald Column

Guan Wei

November 8, 2019

 This is Guan Wei month in Sydney, with the Museum of Contemporary Art displaying its holdings of this popular Chinese-Australian artist; the University of Western Sydney hosting an exhibition at its Parramatta South Campus, and Martin Browne Contemporary showing new work. Not many artists can say they’ve had three exhibitions running sumultaneously in the same […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Sculpture By the Sea 2019

November 1, 2019

Proof arrived this week that climate change is real and urgent. The standard beginning of Sculpture by the Sea (SXS) sees visitors plodding around the coastal trail between Bondi and Tamarama in the pouring rain, but the first day of this year’s show was a scorcher. When the magical rain-bringing powers of this event are […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Tarnanthi 2019

October 24, 2019

Since its inception in 2015, Tarnanthi has rapidly become one of this country’s essential art events. The word, in the Kaurna language of the Adelaide Plains means “to rise, come forth, spring up or appear,” but a more appropriate verb might be: “to mushroom”. The major attraction of this sprawling festival of indigenous culture is […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

De Chirico

October 19, 2019

Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978) had no doubts as to his own greatness. “I am an exceptional man,” he writes in his Memoirs, “who feels and understands a hundred times more strongly than others.” In the 1940s de Chirico began signing his works: “Pictor Optimus” (‘The best painter’). It was a riposte to an Italian art […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Steirischer Herbst 2019: Grand Hotel Abyss

October 10, 2019

Welcome to the Grand Hotel Abyss. The phrase was coined in 1933 by Marxist literary critic, György Lukacs, as a put-down of another group of Marxist intellectuals – the so-called Frankfurt School, whose ranks included luminaries such as Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse and Jürgen Habermas. Lukacs argued that the Frankfurt School practised a form of […]


Sydney Morning Herald Column November 15, 2019

Cornelia Parker

A good deal of contemporary art is wilfully opaque but the work of Cornelia Parker is distinguished by a consistent, lucid intelligence – which is not to say there aren’t plenty of puzzles. I’ve never been a fan of wall labels that explain a work but with the survey Rachel Kent has put together for […]

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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 […]


Destination NSW vs. Yoko Ono

August 22, 2019

Not many Australian bureaucrats would qualify as art experts but apparently this is no impediment to making pronouncements. And so we have Sandra Chipchase, the Chief Executive of Destination NSW, telling Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art that Yoko Ono is “a well-known celebrity” but not much of an artist. It’s a perfect example of that […]


How the Yolngu Do It

August 16, 2019

One hot August night in Darwin, every year, all the tribes gather on the lawn of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards. Most of those tribes are overwhelmingly white: the dedicated collectors of Aboriginal art, the curators and gallery directors, the art […]


David Goldblatt: Photography & Truth

August 9, 2019

David Goldblatt will always be known as the photographer who exposed the evils of Apartheid to the world, but to characterise him as a ‘political’ artist is to diminish the breadth of his achievements. This is something Goldblatt has in common with all great photographers who have found their subjects in war, poverty, hatred and […]