Visual Art

Solid Space: Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina and Art Comics

Comics seem to find critical acclaim in the mainstream only under certain conditions. First, they must deal with bleakly mature themes. Second, they must do so in a cartoony style that belies their seriousness, to paraphrase their mainstream reviewers. (What comics style isn’t somehow cartoony?) The graphic novel section in any given bookstore thus leans towards warzone journalism, family drama and wrenching confessionals. Despite constant reminders that comics have grown up, the non-comics reading public probably picture them less as a medium fulfilling its potential, than as one held back after class and tasked with writing multiple essays on very heady topics, as punishment for earlier mischief-making. Cementing but also subverting this image is Nick Drnaso’s Sabrina, which, in a first for comics, was longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize.

Arthur Rimbaud in NY (Subway)

Howl Sky

Piano Man

In his pronouncements on art throughout this book, Unsworth constantly reiterates that he saw very little art, read very few art magazines and arrived at his own conclusions – whatever parallels seemed to be apparent were simply happy coincidences and fortuitous parallel trajectories. At least, that is the position adopted in this book, where the artist’s voice is omnipresent and the intentional fallacy is not a consideration.

Bronwyn Oliver

A Grand Completeness:
Bronwyn Oliver: Strange Things

ink is as scrupulous, in her way, as her subject was. By which I mean she is able, most of the time, to avoid comment. She doesn’t editorialise. The significance of events in Oliver’s life is allowed to emerge from contemporary testimony, perhaps, or from narrative juxtaposition, or simply because of the baleful grandeur of Oliver’s commitment to her work and the sometimes alarming consequences of her dedication.

Rattling Spears A History of Indigenous Australian Art by Ian McLean

The Shimmer of Light: Rattling Spears by Ian W. McLean

'Martin Edmonds on a new history of Indigenous Australian art 'Nothing is simple in this philosophical arena, where rattling spears and tjurunga contend with sextants and theodolites; cans of spray paint with the sepia tones of old colonial photographs. The question is how to make a future. If the Dreaming was always about eternity poured into time, the problem the Enlightenment brought with it—along with its Cartesian accoutrements—was how to protect eternity from time.' '

Aboriginal Art and Australian Society Hope and Disenchantment by Laura Fisher book cover

Sheer Pleasure: Aboriginal Art and Australian Society

'This is not a study of Aboriginal art but of the way that Aboriginal art has been written and spoken about, mostly in Australia, since the 1970s. Fisher’s object is not only ‘art criticism’, as that phrase is usually understood, but also policy discourse in which Aboriginal art is understood to be a means to an end.'

Brett Whiteley: Art, life and the other thing

Art, Life and the Other Thing: Brett Whiteley Biography

A parallel narrative to the rise of Whiteley as an artist is the detailed account of his sexual promiscuity and his growing dependence on alcohol and drugs.

Sidney Nolan A Life by Nancy Underhill cover

Unhatched Eggs: Sidney Nolan: A Life by Nancy Underhill

There have been many attempts to come to terms in print with the Nolan phenomenon, but only one full length biography ... Now we have a second biography by art historian and curator Nancy Underhill.

Bill The Life of William Dobell by Scott Bevan Book Cover

The Man Who Knew Too Much: Bill: The Life of William Dobell

Dobell remains an enigma. Bevan says that nobody knew who he was, not even Dobell himself, but I doubt this. I think he knew himself exactly and chose not to communicate that knowledge to others, except parsimoniously in the paintings, and sometimes in life.

Ghosts of me: A Bone of Fact
by David Walsh

A Bone of Fact is really memoir as a form of self-portraiture and, David Walsh being who he is, not much is held back. He is garrulous, sardonic, impudent, without shame and without inhibitions; but he also has a vein of kindness to his person that makes the encounter with him ultimately worthwhile.