Visual Art

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.

Acute Misfortune The Life and Death of Adam Cullen by Erik Jensen Cover

Declivities & eminences: Acute Misfortune: The Life and Death of Adam Cullen

If, as Jensen suggests, Cullen was in his work a sort of shaman of suburbia, a lightning rod for its deficits and its hidden pain, this only serves to sharpen his loneliness. For shamanism was and is a communal profession, and Cullen was a deeply isolated man. His substance abuse, so called, can be seen through the same lens: a once communal act now indulged in agonised solitude.

James Turrell’s Within without: A User’s Guide

I would argue that Within without is the most significant and praiseworthy international art purchase the NGA has made to date. It is exactly the sort of contemporary art the NGA should be collecting: work that smaller institutions with less space and resources could not commission; work that alters our perception; work that can foster a genuine sense of collective ownership; work that challenges viewers to move beyond their habitual ways of looking at art.