The Weekend Australian - Review

‘We are sorry, we are unreserved­ly sorry’


- TIM DOUGLAS review@theaustral­

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”

The sentiment expressed by Vincent van Gogh in an 1888 letter to his brother Theo may have had its own context — two years later the painter would be dead — but they have a modern parallel. Certainty, in the age of COVID, has gone out the window; indeed the “sure thing” seems something of a quaint anachronis­m. As seen in Melbourne, lockdown is but a handful of coronaviru­s cases away. But we can always dream. When the National Gallery of Australia’s landmark 2020 show from London’s National Gallery was stopped in its tracks as the pandemic took hold, NGA director Nick Mitzevich set out to keep the dream alive. (Even when the works last year were being held indefinite­ly in quarantine in Tokyo, where eventually they were shown in June.) Mitzevich’s persistenc­e paid off, and next month Canberra’s high temple of art will open the doors on the major exhibition, Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpiec­es from the National Gallery, London. As arts correspond­ent Matthew Westwood writes on pages 8-9, the show may have been a long time coming, but the wait will be worth it. The exhibition charts 500 years of European art, from the Italian Renaissanc­e through to Rembrandt and Vermeer, Spanish masters Velazquez and Goya, and early modern works by Cezanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh. For art’s sake, may COVID keep its distance, and the dream stay alive.

The Royal Society of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery this week apologise to the island state’s Indigenous population for ‘nearly 200 years of practices [that] were morally wrong’, including the removal of 14,000year-old rock art from a sacred site in the state’s northwest

Republic/Universal bbbvv

Recall Lily Allen’s butter-wouldn’tmelt melodies that shared stories of disappoint­ing sex, divorce, and drugs? There’s the same dark underbelly to 20-year-old NZ artist Benee’s bouncy pop tunes. Happen To Me divulges insomnia and anxiety issues over a chilled beat; Grimes shows up on the glitchy, vocodervoi­ced Sheesh, and Allen, the British pop queen herself, adds her signature vocals to Plain. The first seven tracks, including hugely popular Supalonely, stick to the formula of drum machine loops, trip-hop bass with occasional swerves into dub. Then Winter rides in atop growling guitar, and the album’s latter half captures Benee’s voice a shade deeper amid subjects more gothic. The artist born Stella Bennett might have begun as a

TikTok sensation but may yet become a pop queen herself.

Cat Woods

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