Paint + Object


Paint + Object is an exhibition at Annandale Galleries, Sydney, curated by Andrew Leslie. It shows work by Edgar Diehl, Emma Beer + Nigel Lendon, Andrew Leslie, Ruark Lewis, Francesca Mataraga, Jacky Redgate, Trevor Richards, Helen Smith, Nicola Stäglich. The exhibition runs until August 6th.



Thoughts about collaborative art.

A contemporary approach to thinking about collaborative art is in the appreciation of the aesthetics of relational art. It is not possible to look at an artwork made by more than one person without asking/imagining what was the nature of the interaction, how aesthetic effects came into being, how the process of production causes visual pleasures in a distinctively new way. Whether or not one knows the details of the social relations of production, the consequence of a non-individualistic mode of creativity gives rise to a new mode of aesthetic appreciation. Through the imagination/understanding of the social relations of production, the beholder of a collaborative work creates their own place in the sociality of its appreciation – a form of aesthetic engagement that simultaneously questions the spaces of production and reception. The viewer of a collaborative artwork engages with the relational aspects of its production by the recognition of a newly created social relations of reception – a many to one, one to many, many to many cycle of interaction. The viewer is drawn into the web of relationship. Imagining a social relations of creation is analogous to interrogating the creative dimension of one’s own processes of aesthetic appreciation.


This work is by myself and Emma Beer: 2016:7. “Blue tesseract”. This work is currently on show at “P+O: Paint and Object” curated by Andrew Leslie at Annandale Galleries, Sydney.

And for its cross-cultural implications, see my Relational Agency: Rethinking The Aboriginal Memorial at

See also my Relational Agency: The Elcho Island Memorial at

Time to rethink The Aboriginal Memorial

Just published at emaj art journal:

NIGEL LENDON | Relational Agency: Rethinking The Aboriginal Memorial

See also:

Nigel Lendon: Relational Agency: The Elcho Island Memorial

The Endless Column is 100 years old

The first version of Brancusi’s Endless Column was made in Paris in 1916. The largest version, at Targu Jiu in Romania, was finished in 1938. It is a memorial to those Romanians who died defending Targu Jiu during the first World War.


The Afghan Modern @RKD

Nigel Lendon Gallery Rugs 316_01_668

Perhaps it is only from the outside that one can decode aspects of the visual culture of a country like Afghanistan and formulate a proposition like “The Afghan Modern”. To propose an indigenous modernism within a distant culture is, inevitably, an act of cultural projection. And yet the bodies of work we have encountered beg the kind of formal analysis and iconographic interpretation that applies in any number of contemporary cross-cultural circumstances.

Nigel Lendon Gallery Rugs 316_05_668

Afghan Modern @RKD is a small exhibition of ten conflict carpets from Afghanistan at Nigel Lendon’s studio space (@RKD) at Wamboin, near Canberra. The exhibition may be viewed by appointment ( until 24th March.

Nigel Lendon Gallery Rugs 316_03_668

The essay posted on Rugs of War summarises my thoughts about this group of Afghan conflict carpets produced in the years from 1988 to 1992, in which the dominant visual framing device is a map. Innovative in character, these carpets are distinct from other conventional uses of the map in the same medium during the same period, which I have written about elsewhere. These particular examples are, I suggest, artefacts that collectively constitute an instance of a regional, or indigenous, modernism which has emerged independent of any cultural dependency or external influence, and which signals a break with the continuity of local traditions. In this sense, at least, it is like any other modernism.

Nigel Lendon Gallery Rugs 316_04_668

continued HERE

Nigel Lendon: Modelling the now

Videography by Axel Debenham Lendon, photography by Rob Little.

modelling the now


Image: video still from “Self Portrait (Homage)” 2013 (Rob Little, photographer)

And see the discusssion that came with the companion exhibition at the ANU Drill Hall Gallery:


Australia at the Royal Academy

Iconophilia is pleased to post the text of Ian McLean’s talk given at the Royal Academy symposium on November 1st, 2013.

‘Anxious identities: Reinventing Australia in a changing world’

A child of the Enlightenment, the conception of Australia was inadvertently set in train by the Royal Society 245 years ago, coincidentally the same year that the Royal Academy was established. I say inadvertently because the Royal Society had its eyes on Venus, not Australia. An afterthought of Cook’s secret mission to explore the South Pacific after the transit of Venus, Australia was unintended and unloved from the beginning. Be that as it may, the result was its birth as an idea and eventually a nation.

Beginning with these thoughts is my way of acknowledging this venerable institution, the appropriateness of the exhibition ‘Australia’ being here, as well as a mentor, Bernard Smith. He believed Australian art began under the sign of the Royal Society not the Royal Academy, by which he meant it was about nature and science, not neo-classicism and fine art. I think he put too much weight on this difference. For me they were essentially the same institution: each an arm of the Crown and Empire. Nineteenth-century Australian art is a happy alliance of neo-classicism, naturalism and science, and so has a natural home here, in Burlington House, which the Royal Society and Royal Academy shared for 100 years. Half the art in this exhibition, the first half, really belongs to it. It is the art of Empire, not Australia, which conveniently narrows my topic to the other half of the exhibition. Continue reading →

Public Aesthetics and Public Ethics


What makes public art fair game for political graffiti? This 1969-1972 monumental untitled sculpture by Margel Hinder occupies a courtyard space in Woden, Canberra. In its time, such art was resolutely apolitical. In those days, such examples of public art were a source of cultural pride. Untouchable. However one might now say that the concept of the public in the space of public art enables the kind of transgressive political action we see here. I’m not sure I know how to unpack the ethics of anti-aesthetic actions such as these. Graffiti on works of art maximises attention, as we see from recent examples around the world. But does it also diminish the politics of the action? And today there’s a topical piece at Hyperallergic. Food for thought in every direction…


Public art can be dangerous for your health (and psychological wellbeing)


One of my favourite works in the Australian National University’s sculpture collection used to be Witness, by the renowned Indonesian/Australian artist Dadang Christanto. Comprised of aluminium forms attached to the skeleton of a eucalypt tree, it looked for all the world like a flock of Sulphur-crested cockatoos that had lobbed into the branches of the tree, as they do. Commissioned in 2004, when Dadang was artist-in-residence at the School of Art, for quite some time it stood in splendid isolation overlooking the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. Subsequently, in a wind storm, some of the aluminium forms detached themselves and fell to the ground.


For the last five years there has been a dodgy star-picket and wire fence to keep spectators at bay. Now (shock! horror!) the whole area has been surrounded by a vast backyard fence! It is now framed in a way such that the original work has a radically inappropriate new visual component. Now I know (and I’ve argued on this site) that reframing is a particularly Canberran discourse – witness the way the experts and architects at the National Gallery have redesigned and reframed The Aboriginal Memorial – but this is example of what is technically known as outsider design. Or is this Occupational Health and Safety gone mad? In which case, what about the psychological health of the artlovers like your iconophile who have to walk past it every morning?


There are ethical and moral rights issues at play here. Was the artist consulted? If so, we will need to reconsider whether the work has been transformed in some way into a sad statement about art in the public domain. Was anyone asked whether this was an appropriate addition to the work? If so, there is an interesting question of curatorial responsibility at play. Alternately, perhaps this is a test case for public art more generally? The Skywhale, for example, could be flown behind a giant fence, and then nobody would be unhappy. Except me.