Tag: portraiture

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Portia Geach Memorial Award 2023

Monday, November 27th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Has the Portia Geach gone political? That was the inescapable suspicion when this year’s prize went to Kate Stevens for The Whistleblower, a portrait of military lawyer, David McBride, currently in court over breaches of the Defence Act, having pleaded guilty to leaking classified documents that detailed alleged Australian war crimes in Afghanistan. McBride’s argument […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Francis Giacco

Tuesday, July 4th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Controversy is the constant companion of the Archibald Prize, but not always because it has been awarded to some wild and crazy picture. In 1994, when only 32 works were hung, the winner was an elaborate group portrait that owed a greater debt to Vermeer than to any artist of the past three hundred years. […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Rembrandt – True to Life

Tuesday, June 27th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

When the exhibition, Rembrandt: A Genius and His Impact, was shown in Melbourne at the end of 1997, viewers were surprised by the quality of the loans. It was widely assumed that leading museums would never lend us major works by the Dutch Master, but this did not take into account the negotiating skills of […]


Julia Gutman is the Winner

Friday, May 5th, 2023 Blog,

This year’s Archibald Prize is a victory for youth. A 29-year-old artist has painted – or rather stitched – a portrait of a 27-year-old pop star. It’s not the worst work in the show, but I wouldn’t have called it as the best. My first impression of this year’s selection was that it was exceptionally […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Archibald Prize 2023

Friday, May 5th, 2023 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

Of all the Archibald Prizes I’ve seen and reviewed, this year’s version is the most difficult to pick. it’s usually easy to spot the winner within five minutes – even when, as is often the case, it may not be the best picture. This year I confess myself bamboozled. One feels a certain sympathy for […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Cressida Campbell

Tuesday, October 11th, 2022 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

If there were ever an exhibition to silence the doubters and vanquish the sceptics, this is it. Director Nick Mitzevich says there were some at the National Gallery of Australia who couldn’t understand why he wanted to do a Cressida Campbell show. Surely, she’s just a still life artist, a maker of pretty pictures for […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Portia Geach Memorial Award 2022

Tuesday, October 4th, 2022 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

There was a fizz to last year’s Portia Geach Memorial Award for female portraitists, but this time the show feels slightly flat. A display is only as good as the entries submitted, and many artists seem to have settled on smaller, less ambitious works. Should size matter? Look at art long enough and you’ll find […]


Jeffrey Smart: Portrait of Germaine Greer (1984)

Thursday, September 15th, 2022 Journals,

 It’s a testimony to the public perception of Germaine Greer that viewers are surprised Jeffrey Smart has made her seem so prim, so demure. Surely, the outspoken author of The Female Eunuch (1970) should be shown making some provocative gesture, staring challengingly at the viewer. Instead, Smart has portrayed the 45-year-old Greer sitting stiffly on […]


Brett Whiteley: Self-Portrait (1977)

Thursday, September 15th, 2022 Journals,

Brett Whiteley was never shy when it came to measuring himself against the masters. At the age of 16, while boarding at Scots College in Bathurst, he came across a book on Vincent Van Gogh and painted a self-portrait in emulation of the famously misunderstood Dutchman. At 16 we are all misunderstood and ready to […]

Sydney Morning Herald Column

Robert Wilson: Moving Portraits

Tuesday, July 19th, 2022 Sydney Morning Herald Column,

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 […]