“Vision In Disbelief,” the 4th Sydney Biennale

Various Venues

“Vision In Disbelief,” the title of the 4th Sydney Biennale, has a tone reminiscent of the ’50s: “vision” is romantic; “disbelief” hints at cynicism. The Biennale, the biggest and most comprehensive Australian exhibition of recent art—including painting, performance, sculpture, film, video, music, installation, and photography—was all of this and more.

Work by over 200 artists from Europe, North America, New Zealand, Japan, South America, and Australia was intended to survey what’s going on at present. The differences between the artists were largely glossed over, however, and the emergent theme of the exhibition and accompanying seminars was the triumphant return of painting, especially that of the expressionist and regional varieties. So much paint, and so many speeches about it: Irving Sandler’s sympathies were, as always, with paint; Achille Bonito Oliva spoke of the international

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