M y partner Yvonne East was a finalist in the 2018 Archibald Prize with a magnificent portrait of the Chief Justice of the High Court, Susan Kiefel. She had to write an artist’s statement – those little white boards beside the painting where an artist describes the meaning behind the creation. I am pleased to say she opted for clear English expressing the reasons behind her choice of subject and what the purpose of the painting was. It is not always so.

Some artist statements really are deliciously awful mini-essays in art jargon, I’m never sure if they are completely taking the piss. Examine this from a work by Jason Martin called Behemoth, displayed at the Lisson Gallery in New York. “Simultaneously awe inspiring and intimidating, elusive and alluring, Behemothaccesses a shared primary memory: the Kaaba of Mecca, a mausoleum to a long dead dignitary, an inviolable alchemist’s box.” The art was a three-metre cubed block of cork coated in black pigment, which would hardly seem elusive when you walked smack into it. I am also wondering how you create an inviolable alchemist’s box. This is another statement that was featured on a website devoted...

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