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Newsletter 309

Published October 21, 2019
Giorgio de Chirico, 'Ariadne' (913)

Darwin in August may be the essential destination for anyone with an interest in indigenous art, but with every new iteration Tarnanthi in Adelaide is making up ground on the top end’s art award season. Having witnessed the opening of another Tarnanthi festival this week I was impressed by the good spirit in which this event is conducted, and the quality of the art on display. The Art Gallery of South Australia may not have the resources of some of the other galleries, but when they get an injection of funds from BHP Billiton, they know exactly what to do with the money.

I’ll write up Tarnanthi next week. The current art column is a very different affair, looking at the Giorgio de Chirico retrospective in Milan. Even those for whom the name “de Chirico” rings no bells will be familiar with his work, which has a permanent place in all the histories of modern art.

De Chirico’s great invention was “Metaphysical Art” whicn put him outside of every mainstream. His detestation for Modernism was so great he can’t be slotted into any congenial ‘ism’. His passion for the classical era made him an anomaly, who gathered enemies with remarkable ease – aided by hs own acerbic attitudes. The show in Milan argues for a reassessment, and makes a persuasive case on the artist’s behalf.

The newest film being reviewed is Birds of Passage – a movie that has had to wait in the queue until Joker and Judy were out of the way, but thoroughly deserves the critical attention. An unclassifiable blend of South American ethnography and organised crime, it’s one of the most original movies of this year, or any year.

I can’t bring myself to touch politics this week, although – like everybody else I’m transfixed by the unfolding spectacle of Donald Trump imploding, and trying to bring the rest of the world down with him. It’s almost enough to make one thankful for the utter inertia of our own government. When it’s a choice of having no policies or apocalyptic ones, the do-nothing option looks unusually attractive.