Art Essays

Newsletter 269

Published January 12, 2019
Animism in Luang Prabang, by Tcheu Siong

This will be a very short newsletter as I’m in Laos, meeting the artists who are taking part in this year’s Asia Pacific Triennial at QAGOMA. My host is Garry Stafford, of the Spellbrook Foundation, who spent 20 years working in the mining industry in Laos, and developed an affection for the country and the people. Nowadays Garry is a philanthropist who supports Lao cultural projects.

So that’s where I am. The rest of the story is that we’ve got an extremely busy schedule, so if I’ve any hope of posting this newsletter on time I’ll have to curtail the chat and get moving.

The first art column of the year looks at Tony Tuckson: The Abstract Sublimeat the Art Gallery if NSW. This is an impressive survey of Tuckson’s abstract work, which looks pretty radical even today, 25 years after the artist’s death. I’ve got a few minor quibbles, but not with Tuckson, who was a rare figure in Australian art – not only for his uncompromising paintings, but for his work as a curator and art administrator, and his extreme scrupulousness about avoiding conflicts of interest. I could name plenty of curators who never seem to have encountered the concept.

The film column is a bit of a makeshift effort, as the potential reviews this week were not promising. Instead, I’ve had a look at the Australian box office results for last year, although I hesitate to delve too deeply into what it reveals about our collective cinematic mentality. In brief, there don’t seem to be too many Australians who view the movies as anything but a couple of hours’ distraction on a Saturday night. Sometimes I wish it were all so simple…