Rex Butler
The Hand of Art

Tracey Moffatt: Body Remembers


Thought Patterns: Selected Works from the Collection

Curated by Anthony Fitzpatrick.
Tarrawarra Museum of Art
23 March – 19 May

By Rex Butler

The shadows are the first thing you notice. They're uncanny, haunting, impossible, technological.

Take Spirit House (2017), which has the one remaining wall of an abandoned limestone building—we are tempted to call it a mission church—casting its shadow under a cumulus-cloudy sky. It's an impossible shadow bec...

Rex Butler
Christian Marclay: The Clock

Memento Mori Melbourne

Christian Marclay: The Clock

Australian Centre for the Moving Image 23 January – 10 March

10 am – 5 pm, open 24 hours on Thursdays

By Rex Butler

All reviewers seem to begin by telling us the circumstances in which they came to watch it: when they first came into the screening room, how long they stayed, what they were doing before they came in and what they did afterwards.

The novelist Zadie Smith—when she went to see it at the Hayward Gallery in 2011, in an es...

Rex Butler
Mira Gojak and Takehito Koganezawa: The Garden of Forking Paths

Mira Gojak and Takehito Koganezawa, The Garden of Forking Paths

Buxton Contemporary 7 November 2018 – 17 February 2019

Curated by Shihoko Iida and Melissa Keys

By Rex Butler

It's almost impossible to imagine the influence four small volumes of less than 60,000 words each by the great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges exerted on Western culture throughout the latter part of the 20th century. Compiled from a selection of short stories and essays originally written in Spanish in the 1930s...

Rex Butler
Shearing the Rams

Tom Roberts, Shearing the Rams

National Gallery of Victoria, Permanent Collection

By Rex Butler

I was recently showing a friend from New Zealand through the Australian collection at the National Gallery of Victoria and we came, of course, to Tom Roberts' Shearing the Rams (1888-90). You have to get there eventually because everything in the collection and its arrangement on the walls points you that way. The work is visible — and intentionally so — as you step into the first of the room...

Rex Butler
Colony: Australia 1770–1861 / Frontier Wars

Colony: Australia 1770–1861 / Frontier Wars

Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria. Colony: Australia 1770–1861 until 15 July | Colony: Frontier Wars until 30 September

By Rex Butler

Colony is undoubtedly the best show the NGV has put on since Australian Impressionists in France in 2013. And I’d even say that the two shows are connected. Seriously. Both shake up our conception of what “Australia” is and perhaps even more profoundly where “Australia” is. Certainly, a number...

Rex Butler
The Field Revisited

The Two Sides of the Field

The Field Revisited

Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria, 27 April – 26 August

By Rex Butler

There are perhaps three art-viewing experiences I have had that I would say changed the way I looked at and thought about art. The first was when as an undergraduate I wandered without any warning into the Colin McCahon retrospective held at the University of Sydney as part of the Sydney Biennale of 1984. The second was when, again without any warning, I stoo...

Rex Butler
Richard Bell: Dredging up the Past

The Saying and the Said

Richard Bell, Dredging Up the Past

Gertrude Contemporary, 2 February – 10 March 2018

By Rex Butler

In the recent rehang of the Australian collection at the Queensland Art Gallery, visitors before entering the gallery have to walk under Richard Bell’s Judgement Day (2008), which hangs on a wall above a doorway. “Australian Art Does Not Exist”, Bell’s painting declares in a nice self-contradiction because both Bell and his art are just about as Australian as you...

Rex Butler
Gareth Sansom: Transformer

Gareth Withdraws

Gareth Sansom: Transformer

Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, 15 September 2017 – 28 January 2018

By Rex Butler

The Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Sebastian Smee barely got a word in during the Q & A held soon after the opening of Gareth Sansom’s retrospective at the NGV. Sansom, just about the ultimate alpha-male for all of his cross-dressing, entertained the audience with tales of his early cricketing prowess, his father returning home after the war without a limb, his e...