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“I’ve never been at a film where so much food was put away.” © 2014 Paramount Pictures Corporation and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

Hercules, body envy and the challenge of being man

Who wants to be Hercules? Judging by the huge amount of internet interest in the diet and fitness regime of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, former professional wrestler and star of the latest Hercules film…
We hear a great deal about China’s future – but how is it treating its past? Sangzhutse Fortress in Shigatse, Tibet – after restoration work. Photo: Tongji University

China’s future is bright, and that includes conserving the past

For most Australians, mention of China probably does not evoke preserved buildings and landscapes in the way the English countryside does or the Italian centro storico. But a new exhibition, Envisioning…
Australian writing for young adults has moved on as has our thinking about what it means to be gay. Pat Reynolds

Gay? Jewish? Neither? A manual to help you challenge the rules

Young adult fiction and complex themes go hand in hand – not least in one of the most recent entries to this field. Melbourne-based writer Eli Glasman’s debut novel The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper…
Brave New Clan presents the “X-factor” us mob see among ourselves all the time to a wider audience. Foxtel 2014

Indigenous Australia is deadly – and Leah Purcell shows it

Urban skyline, as seen from inside a medium-density apartment block, opens Australian director Leah Purcell’s Who We Are: Brave New Clan (2014), which was broadcast on Foxtel’s Bio Channel last night…
A solo show at the Saatchi means an artist has already entered orbit. Pelham Communications and Prudential Eye Awards

Ben Quilty at the Saatchi Gallery … things just got interesting

Ben Quilty is the first Australian artist to hold a solo show at the Saatchi Gallery in London. Opening last Friday and running until August 3, the exhibition is a big deal for Quilty, naturally, but also…
The samurai is the focus of a major exhibition on display at Melbourne’s NGV. Utagawa Yoshitsuya, The death of Kusunoki Masatsura (19th century) colour woodblock (triptych) (a-c) 35.9x74.0 cm (image) (overall) (a-c) 36.4x74.0 cm (sheet) (overall). National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Samurai are on show at the NGV – and they’re not just warriors

A new exhibition has opened at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) on the figure of the Japanese samurai. Bushido: Way of the Samurai explores popular conceptions of the samurai – as well as their lesser…
A new exhibition in Brisbane takes food as its subject and includes this work by Darren Sylvester. (‘The explanation is boring. It’s simple. I don’t care’, 2006. Lightjet print on paper, 120 x 160cm.) Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art

GOMA’s Harvest shows tastes change when it comes to food

In Rolf de Heer’s new film Charlie’s Country there are four food moments: deep-fried fast food; tinned and packaged food (abandoned when the car runs out of petrol); cooked-in-coals barramundi; and green…
An exhibition of the Fremantle realists sheds new light on the work of this pioneering group. Ken Wadrop, Action painting , 1978, acrylic paint on canvas, 92 x 123.5 cm. Fremantle Arts Centre

The Fremantle artists who found new ways of seeing the everyday

There is a sense of elation when you see something familiar as if for the first time. Looking is one thing but seeing is something entirely different and for the three Western Australian artists identified…
The limitations of the theatre become the production’s emotional heart. Michele Mossop

Henry V meets the London Blitz and brings the house down

Bell Shakespeare’s new production of William Shakespeare’s Henry V – which opened in Canberra on June 14 – interrogates the complexities of war through a unique framing device: its scenes are played out…
It’s impossible to overstate the way this kind of viewing makes Altman’s ouevre newly accessible. 3 Women, Sydney Film Festival

Framing Robert Altman at the Sydney Film Festival

For me the most exciting way to negotiate the ample program of the Sydney Film Festival (SFF) is to focus on its retrospectives, and this year the lens is on the American film directors Robert Altman and…
A sense of unease that comes with visiting the past is palpable in several of the works on show. Anna Carey, Costa Vista 2014, giclée print mounted on aluminium, Museum of Brisbane

David Malouf and Friends explores tricks of memory and place

Last year I re-read Johnno, David Malouf’s 1975 novel, with a group of students. I was intrigued to find out how young men and women living in Brisbane today would relate to a novel that has cast such…
John Constable, Sketch for ‘Hadleigh Castle’, c.1828–9. Tate

Kenneth Clark – the last art historian in pursuit of beauty

There is currently something of a Kenneth Clark renaissance, with an exhibition devoted to him just opened at Tate Britain, and a new Civilisation planned by the BBC. If there is anything to be gained…
Lily Hargreaves Nungarrayi, 2013, Wardilyka Jukurrpa (Bush Turkey, Ardeotis Australis Dreaming) synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 200.0 x 300.0 cm. © the artist, courtesy of Warnayaka Art Centre Lajamanu, and Vivien Anderson Gallery Melbourne

Clever women: three Warlpiri artists, now in Melbourne

This unconventional review of an exhibition, Jinjilngali, Kurlukuku Minpiya, Yirdingali, now on show at the Vivien Anderson Gallery in Melbourne, also constitutes a tribute to three Warlpiri women artists…
Corrado Giaquinto, Italian 1703–1766, worked in Spain 1753–62, Allegory of Justice and Peace (Allegoria della Giustizia e della Pace) c.1753–54 oil on canvas, 216.0 x 325.0 cm. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (P00104), Spanish Royal Collection

Italian masterpieces from Spain in Australia? They brush up nicely

Nationalism is not always a good thing where understanding art is concerned, but in the case of Italian Masterpieces from Spain’s Royal Court, Museo del Prado on show at the National Gallery of Victoria…
An exhibition on display in Ballarat charts the fortunes of the Scots in Australia in the 19th century. John Glover, Ben Lomond, c1840. Oil on canvas 76.8 x 117.1 cm. Rex Nan Kivell Collection, National Gallery of Australia and National Library of Australia. Courtesy of Art Gallery of Ballarat

For Auld Lang Syne in Ballarat – reviewing an old acquaintance

If there is one painting that shows the dilemma at the heart of For Auld Lang Syne, an exhibition devoted to images of Scottish Australia currently showing at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, it is John Glover’s…
Jonah and the Fobba-liscious boys. ABC

Jonah From Tonga and the essence of cringe

Chris Lilley has long been a high maintenance love object. Last night, the first episode of Jonah From Tonga was broadcast on ABC1. Critics have had an easy time finding humour in socially “well-placed…
Sue Ford, Self-portrait (1986). A major retrospective of the feminist photographer and film maker is on display at the National Gallery of Victoria. Sue Ford Archive, Melbourne © Sue Ford Archive, Melbourne/National Gallery of Victoria

Feminist maverick Sue Ford at the National Gallery of Victoria

Australian visual artist Sue Ford built a reputation as a feminist maverick through her 23 solo exhibitions from 1964 until her death in 2009, and a major exhibition of her work is on display at the National…

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