Wes Hill

  • View of “Unchained Malady,” 2021.
    picks March 05, 2021

    Matthew Griffin

    Matthew Griffin wants a job that pays enough for him to get his teeth fixed. In fact, he’s made multiple video works about his proposal for arts funding in Australia to be scrapped in order to provide all artists over thirty-five with free dental care. He’s joking, obviously, but the joke is hardly the point in Griffin’s work (precisely because it’s often the only point). The forty-four-year-old Sydney-based artist would likely scoff at the suggestion that he’s made a career out of performing deliberately flat, stupid, artist-insider jokes. But amid the spirit of creative precarity that has

  • Elizabeth Newman, Untitled, 1989, oil on canvas, 30 × 35 3/4".

    Elizabeth Newman

    “No, no, no,” Elizabeth Newman is constantly stating in her work, while hinting at an ebullient “Yes!” The Melbourne-based artist asks us to look at the portals hidden in formalist tropes—at negatives that express positives and at barriers that surreptitiously let us in. In her recent exhibition “Is that a ‘No’?” a repertoire of paintings, textiles, collages, and sculptures alluded to the productive potential of gaps, holes, accidents, and absences. Comprising works dating from 1989 to 2019, the show, smartly curated by Naomi Evans, was less than a full-dress retrospective, but it did concisely

  • Ross Manning, Bricks and Blocks, 2016, LCD TV, video camera, fluorescent lights, mirror, 37 1⁄8 × 48 × 35 1⁄2".

    Ross Manning

    Situated twenty miles south of Nimbin—Australia’s original hippie commune heartland—Lismore, known as the low-rent, eccentric alternative to the gentrified east-coast surfing village of Byron Bay, is a hot spot for alternative living. A former childhood hometown of Julian Assange and his puppeteer parents, Lismore is a fitting location for Ross Manning’s survey exhibition “Dissonant Rhythms,” which has toured Australia since its inception at Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art in 2017. Manning is a resourceful tinkerer and, being self-taught, came into the art world through an indirect route. He

  • Anne Wallace, Entrance Uncovered, 2001, oil on canvas, 51 x 63".
    picks December 20, 2019

    Anne Wallace

    In this retrospective, “Strange Ways,” Anne Wallace’s oil paintings of mostly white middle-class people in noirish scenarios turn up the dial on the repertoires of Edward Hopper and Alfred Hitchcock. Adding to the history of antipodean surrealism in this country, Wallace’s northern-hemisphere aesthetics are recurrently punctuated by indigenous anomalies. Native yet out-of-place fauna and local cultural insignia serve up a dreamy magical realism, while foregrounded subjects seem frozen in a clinically organized mise-en-scène she has honed since the early 1990s. 

    Works such as Entrance Uncovered,


    LIVING AND WORKING in a remote Aboriginal community in central Australia, Vincent Namatjira may seem an unlikely oracle for the degenerative condition we call neoliberalism. Yet his paintings representing world leaders and the social elite possess a discerning frankness that exposes the paragons of power as hapless frauds.

    In Queen Elizabeth and Vincent (On Country), 2018, Namatjira depicts himself posing as if for a friendly photo op with the Commonwealth’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Behind them is his home: the red desert landscape of Indulkana, a community of some 250 people

  • Qiu Zhijie, Map of Technological Ethics (detail), 2018, site-specific mural. Installation view. From the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art. Photo: Chloe Callistemon.

    9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art

    To simply say that the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT) is an event that showcases contemporary art from Asia, Australia, and the Pacific islands would fail to convey the sheer vitality of its many iterations since 1993, which, more than any other recurring exhibition, have shaped Australia’s cultural identity in the digital age. Its ninth installment, led by Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art’s director Chris Saines and Asia-Pacific curatorial manager Zara Stanhope, appears more assured than ever. In this outing, which includes more than eighty artists and collectives


    JAPANESE-BORN MAMI KATAOKA, chief curator at Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum since 2003, is the artistic director of the 2018 Biennale of Sydney, the first Asian curator to be appointed to the role in the event’s forty-five-year history. While her selection reflects the undeniable influence of Brisbane’s Asia Pacific Triennial (inaugurated in 1993) on the national scene, this turn to Australia’s neighboring regions feels so overdue that praising it here hardly seems justified.

    Kataoka has named her iteration “Superposition: Equilibrium & Engagement”; the attendant curatorial rationale (presented in a

  • Gerhard Richter, Birkenau, 2014, oil on canvas, 102 3/8 x 78 3/4".

    Gerhard Richter

    For an institution with a reputation for blockbuster exhibitions and kid-friendly programming, the Gallery of Modern Art made an unusual choice when it decided to mount a Gerhard Richter retrospective—his first in Australia. This was a measured affair, in contrast with the almost concurrent survey of the works of Yayoi Kusama, whose loud colors and easy interactivity were more faithful to the GoMA brand. Centering on the idea that Richter’s fascination with the iconographic resonance of painting and photography has itself become iconic, “The Life of Images” shows how Richter has spent a

  • Philip Guston, East Tenth, 1977, oil on canvas, 80 x 100 1/2".
    picks December 08, 2017

    “Something Living”

    Philip Guston is the point of inspiration for this spirited group exhibition—specifically, his painting East Tenth, 1977, which this gallery shrewdly acquired in the early 1980s. Typical of his rather solemn, idiosyncratic experiments from this period, the work features a grimy New York sky above cartoon bottles, red-brick walls, and shapes reminiscent of Guston’s earlier Ku Klux Klan–type profiles. While the curatorial premise, detailed on a gallery wall, is fairly pedestrian—that contemporary artists have continued Guston’s obsession with “formless matter” and “living presence”—it becomes

  • Sarah Contos, 20th Century Sunrise (Gloria #3), 2017, screen print on canvas and metallic fabric, aluminum, 40 1/2 x 34 x 9".
    picks June 01, 2017

    Sarah Contos

    In the work of Sydney-based artist Sarah Contos, mystery and camp are treated with an Old Hollywood glamour that Warhol would have been jealous of. Having had a career as a set designer, Contos is now essentially a sculptor; however, also included in the show are three outstanding screen prints—Before Transcending Moonlight (Gloria # 1), Eclipsing Hollywood (Gloria # 2), and 20th Century Sunrise (Gloria #3) (all works 2017)—each featuring a publicity headshot of the actress Gloria Swanson from a different phase in her career. Best known for her role as the pitiful, forgotten silent movie star

  • Julie Fragar, Too Much and Not Enough Water Under the Bridge (detail), 2017, oil on paper, 35 x 27".
    picks March 24, 2017

    Julie Fragar

    Julie Fragar’s paintings have long documented her intellectual restlessness in thick paint and subdued hues. However, increasingly, her works have taken shape around the imagined narratives of others. In this restrained and absolutely compelling exhibition are seven small oil paintings on paper that were made in response to the artist’s observations of Supreme Court trials in Brisbane, where Fragar currently lives. Each piece, created entirely from memory, reflects on a particular case that she saw unfold over time, and the works’ intimate scale focuses attention not on the sensationalism of

  • Kylie Banyard, Ruth, 2017, oil and acrylic on canvas, 46 x 33".
    picks January 26, 2017

    Kylie Banyard

    Kylie Banyard’s previous work mostly consists of nostalgic scenes from American counterculture, focusing less on historic pioneers than on alternative forms and technologies connected to radical visual practice in the 1960s and 1970s. Comprising four framed paintings and five painted banners, this exhibition sees the artist transform her typically muted creative environments into sites of joyful contemplation. Using black-and-white photographs as source material, which were taken at Black Mountain College between 1933 and 1957 and which Banyard found online, she has concentrated not on the