Helen Hughes

  • View of “Peter Tyndall,” 2022–23. Photo: Christian Capurro.

    Peter Tyndall

    Over half a century, Peter Tyndall’s oeuvre has undergone an enigmatic evolution. This survey, comprising more than two hundred works, begins with a single black-and-white painting from 1993 of the pictogram that in 1974 Tyndall conceived of as his primary symbol and which he has continued using ever since: a square with two vertical lines protruding from the top like antennae, signifying a painting and its hanging wires.

    Having emerged in Melbourne in the mid-1970s, Tyndall is associated with that city’s distinctive postmodernist scene, with its tongue-in-cheek intersection of European modernism

  • Archie Moore, Dwelling (Victorian Issue), 2022, mixed media, dimensions variable. Photo: Gertrude Preston.

    Archie Moore

    Since 2010, Archie Moore has been creating versions of his childhood home in Tara, west Queensland, as immersive total installations. Dwelling (Victorian Issue), 2022, was the fourth such reconstruction. Each iteration morphs slightly, expanding or contracting to fit the footprint of a given gallery. At Gertrude Contemporary, viewers pushed through glass-paneled vintage doors to enter a dimly lit lounge room with 1970s television shows blaring from a boxy set. The kitchen featured an old Kelvinator fridge and a Laminex table on which lay a tin of biscuits, a kitschy Indigenous doll, and some

  • Lyndell Brown and Charles Green, Into the White Light, 2020, oil on linen, 59 7⁄8 × 59 7⁄8".

    Lyndell Brown and Charles Green

    To look at the eleven paintings in Lyndell Brown and Charles Green’s exhibition “The Last Cool Skies” was to behold only the most recent pages from the duo’s much vaster atlas of paintings and photographs, which they have been assembling since their beginning to collaborate more than thirty years ago. Like all their work, these new paintings announce themselves as fragments—each a hyperrealist composite of smaller images, including tree-lined roads, rocky outcrops, a mandala, historical photographs, art-historical references, and a spread from a children’s book. Each painting is a metonym for

  • Julia Lohmann, Corpus Maris I, 2022, seaweed, rattan, plywood. Installation view, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney. Photo: Document Photography.

    23rd Biennale of Sydney

    THE TWENTY-THIRD Biennale of Sydney seeks to give form to the seemingly unrepresentable: the profound scalar and ontological challenges to human thought precipitated by climate crisis. Titled “rīvus,” Latin for “brook” or “stream,” the exhibition chiefly attempts this act of representation through its emphasis on understanding waterways as individual entities with agency and rights and by honoring Indigenous ways of knowing, according to which rivers are ancestors or living things.

    To take aqueous bodies—whether oceanic, estuarine, or amniotic—as a theme with a political edge

  • Brook Andrew, seeing time I, 2021, mixed media on linen, 92 1⁄2 × 92 1⁄2".

    Brook Andrew

    A gentle and meditative exhibition, “seeing time” was in that way slightly uncharacteristic for its maker, Wiradjuri and Celtic Australian artist, writer, and curator Brook Andrew. Across the course of his nearly three-decade career, Andrew has confronted many aspects of colonial trauma head-on. For instance, in 2016 he made with Trent Walter a public memorial to Indigenous warriors Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, who were executed in Melbourne in 1842. Many of Andrew’s works address the museological holdings of ancestral human remains and ceremonial objects. They frequently include items

  • Darren Sylvester, Dear Diary, 2021, digital C-print, 94 1⁄2 × 63".

    Darren Sylvester

    Darren Sylvester is renowned for his highly staged and slightly awkward photographs of people surrounded by branded accoutrements—IKEA furniture and Gap clothing, Dunkin’ Donuts and Diet Coke. Commentators frequently compare Sylvester’s work to fashion editorials and advertising campaigns, while viewers describe feeling directly addressed by the works, or even seduced, as by a pop song that seems to have been written specifically for them. Critics have spilled ink trying to decide whether Sylvester’s work is adequately critical of, or collusive with, the capitalist imagery that is so clearly

  • Lucy Bleach, attenuated ground (the slow seismogenic zone) (detail), 2021, double bass, toffee, seismometer, wooden table, tactile trans-ducers, formply, plaster, surface-vibration speakers, polished concrete, powdered core sample, powdered gold leaf, Ficus coronata plant, rhizobox, soil. Installation view. From the TarraWarra Biennial 2021. Photo: Andrew Curtis.

    TarraWarra Biennial 2021

    This year’s TarraWarra Biennial, one of just a small handful of national surveys of contemporary Australian art, takes its title from the Woiwurrung word tarrawarra, meaning “slow moving waters.” The biennial’s curator, Nina Miall, consulted with senior Wurundjeri elder Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin AO to learn from the Birrarung (Yarra River) and embed its unhurried movements in the aesthetic foundation of her exhibition. Works by twenty-five artists variously embody or demonstrate acts of slowness, deceleration, delay, or the “decompression of time.” Jeremy Bakker’s overly literal though charming

  • John Nixon, Untitled (polychrome), 2018, enamel, wood, MDF, 23 5/8 × 17 3/4".

    John Nixon

    John Nixon’s exhibition “Groups + Pairs 2016–2020” opened in March only to be paused due to Covid-19 restrictions. Nixon was suffering from leukemia and passed away in August at the age of seventy. As a gesture toward his legacy, his decades-long gallerist and friend, Anna Schwartz, announced that his final exhibition would remain on display for the rest of the year. A nearly yearlong show is fitting for Nixon—a radical modernist who spent more than a decade, for instance, producing orange monochromes. The extended run affords a matchless opportunity for Nixon’s significant and abiding following

  • Alex Cuffe, When the anaesthetic wore off the lights were so bright . . . the only thing they could offer was this washcloth . . . I woke up screaming . . . all they could offer was this washcloth . . . the first words I remember were addressed to a body of a different gender . . . I held the nurses hand smiling while my first words were to correct her . . . and all I have left is a washcloth that will never be clean, 2019, cotton cloth, hair dye, 17 3/4 × 13 3/4".

    Alex Cuffe

    Crying selfies are frequently derided by those who cannot reconcile genuine grief with the broadcast culture of social media. For them, a crying selfie, like a “sleeping” selfie, reveals only its own disingenuity. Performative happiness is tolerable, but performative grief is suspect. Ambivalent to this binary pairing, “Love is the Length of her Hair” pivoted around an archive of crying selfies that Alex Cuffe has taken over the past five years, the period of time that encompasses her gender transition. She selected forty-three of these camera-phone photographs and had them digitally printed on

  • View of “Apparel,” 2020.


    At the far end of Neon Parc’s long, dark, windowless gallery, spotlights illuminated an arrangement of mannequins modeling outfits in various states of deconstruction. The mise-en-scène approximated an abandoned shopping mall: The mannequins—some very old, unclothed, and covered in dust—stood on platforms made from discarded building materials, and around the perimeter of the installation sat some miscellaneous office chairs, a decommissioned water boiler, and an ancient piece of projection equipment. Here, fashion was a site of ruin envisioned from some point in a postapocalyptic future.


  • Paul Yore, (Soft) Hard Brexit, 2018, mixed media, 73 1⁄4 × 15 3⁄8 × 19 1⁄4".

    Paul Yore

    Paul Yore’s work is unmistakably queer. Generally speaking, his textiles, soft sculptures, and installations feature the colors of the rainbow flag; his technique of carefully sewing small scraps of fabric together recalls the aids Memorial Quilt. More conspicuously, penises and dildos abound in his work, alongside cartoonish depictions of gay sex. Yet even while it zealously, even overzealously, embodies the queer aesthetics of camp, Yore’s artwork resists articulating a queer identity as such. Instead, in its hyperactive cocktail of negativity, sarcasm, and pleasure, it figures “queer” as a

  • View of “Steaphan Paton.” 2019.

    Steaphan Paton

    Walking into Steaphan Paton’s exhibition “Nullius in Verba,” one was confronted by a triangular formation of twelve leaf-shaped shields mounted on poles—and it was practically impossible not to anthropomorphize them. Indeed, that the shields confront you, that they address you, is, one suspects, the point. Each is about six feet tall, and cumulatively each shield, pole, and base unit matches the artist’s height and weight. For those trained in canonical Western modernism, the installation might bring to mind Michael Fried’s famous summation of Minimalist art as registering the “silent presence