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A huge painting across gold panels
Photograph: Supplied

Art exhibitions to see in Sydney today

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to art in Sydney during winter.

Written by
Stephen A Russell
&
Alannah Maher
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From Sydney's best galleries to its artist-run initiatives, from car park shows to outdoor art, here are the best exhibitions and art events in Sydney today. 

  • Art
  • Paintings
  • Sydney
After the winter that was, we all need a massive dose of vibrant colour in our lives right now. Well, Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW) listened and delivered. Matisse: Life & Spirit, Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou presents the largest collection of the revered painter’s joyous work to ever wing its way to Sydney, with thanks to the world-famous Parisian home of contemporary art. You’ll be able to soak up the spirit-lifting sight of more than 100 of his brilliantly inventive creations – not just paintings but also sculptures, drawings, cut-outs and more – from November 20 right through to March 13, 2022. The show takes in the full scope of his six decade-spanning career, with many of the inclusions having never been displayed in Australia. A special presentation focused on his work in Chapel of the Rosary in Vence, in the south of France, is at the heart of the exhibition. It’s considered to be the culmination of his life’s work. Sydney-based architect Richard Johnson has conjured up life-sized maquettes of the chapel windows. AGNSW head curator of international art Justin Paton worked with special exhibitions curator Jackie Dunn and Centre Pompidou’s Dr AurĂ©lie Verdier to bring this glowing exhibition to life. AGNSW director Dr Michael Brand is delighted. “We are proud to offer our visitors an encounter with one of the world’s greatest collections of Matisse’s work here in Sydney on Gadigal country. The exhibition traces the development of the artist’s practice from his earl
  • Art
  • Ultimo
Functional and beautiful clay objects have been at the epicentre of history ever since the first owner of an opposable thumb worked out how to whack water and dirt together. Australia's history with the form has evolved through utilitarian and aesthetic waves too. Clay Dynasty is a huge exhibition that sets to chart ceramic practice in our country while peering into the exciting future of contemporary ceramic artists. Head to the Powerhouse Museum to see over 400 clay pieces from the museum's collection alongside 70 new works from Australian artists. Clay Dynasty will take a trip through some of the earliest examples of pottery from First Nations makers through to the groovy modernist experiments from proto-feminist Australians and beyond. The exhibition will show pieces from 160 artists and makers from the last fifty years of ceramic studio practice. See famous works from the likes of Margaret Dodd, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Joan Ground and pieces from Darwin's Bagot Pottery brought to light and air after years of storage in the Powerhouse collection. And marvel at the lines of innovation and style that have made an impact on contemporary practitioners like Lynda Draper, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Carlene Thompson and more.  Powerhouse Museum will also be hosting a symposium and has developed a range of exhibition–inspired masterclasses in collaboration with local ceramic studios, including kil.n.it studios and Hermannsburg Potters, with more masterclasses to come. Keep your pe
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  • Art
  • Sculpture and installations
  • Sydney
To celebrate what are hopefully set to be sunnier times ahead (both literally and figuratively), Tumbalong Park at Darling Harbour is hosting an enchanting sound and light installation called Sky Castle.  From mid-November through to late December, Sky Castle will be taking over Darling Harbour and transforming it with clusters of inflatable rainbow arches. The whimsical work is courtesy of art and technology company Eness, which has quite the history of creating dreamy public works (you might be familiar with the Sonic Light Bubble the group presented at Melbourne's Fed Square during White Night 2017).  While the rainbow arches are pretty enough to look at alone, when walked through the arches also emit xylophone melodies while simultaneously changing colour. The entire effect hopes to evoke a sense of rainbows – a symbol of hope following the metaphorical storm Sydney and the world has weathered over the past two years. Sky Castle can be viewed in Darling Harbour daily from November 12 to December 26. 
  • Art
  • Chippendale
Missing the Tokyo Olympics? Us too. Give yourself a trip back to the excitement and aesthetics of the games at the Japan Foundation, Sydney's new exhibition A Sense of Movement: Japanese Sports Posters. Better yet, get a sense of a wider spectrum of sports and the ways brilliant Japanese graphic designers have expressed thrilling kinetic energy in 2D forms. See 24 posters by six designers – from masters of the form to emerging graphic stars. The exhibition is inspired by a lecture by ginza graphic gallery curator Eishi Kitazawa held at the Japan Foundation, London about how these graphic posters can convey a "sense of movement". You'll see examples of this with works from Ikkƍ Tanaka, Katsumi Asaba, Shigeo Fukuda, Tadanori Yokoo, Yuri Uenishi and YĆ«saku Kamekura. Tracing a short history of sports and design in Japan, the exhibition shows how designers have combined humour, sharp compositions and tradition to portray punchy sport promotions. See a reproduction of the original poster for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics by YĆ«saku Kamekura, an important tipping point in Japan's post-war identity. And marvel at the cheeky 1991 World Table Tennis Championships posters designed by Katsumi Asaba that weave historical paintings into the zippy competitive pastime. A Sense of Movement: Japanese Sports Posters is co-presented by the Japan Foundation, Sydney and the DNP Foundation for Cultural Promotion. Catch it before January 2022, when it will pack up and tour around the world.
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  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Sydney
As the Art Gallery of New South Wales gears up to show off the largest collection of the joyous works of Henri Matisse to ever wing its way to Sydney – Matisse: Life & Spirit, Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou, a ticketed exhibition open from November 20 – a free gallery-wide festival of Matisse takes over the building. Open now, Matisse Alive features vital new work, participatory projects, dazzling textiles, a program of music and performance, and vibrant displays of art from the gallery’s collection. Four new artist projects are at the heart of Matisse Alive, which present contemporary perspectives on this ‘modern master’ and focus especially on his imagining of the Pacific. You can see new work from American artist Nina Chanel Abney, who explores race, gender, homophobia and politics in her mural-like collage work. Australian Sally Smart, a proponent of cut-out art, presents a large-scale multimedia installation of collaged fabrics that continues her long-term investigation into female subjectivity. Angela Tiatia, who unpicks neo-colonialism, draws on inspiration garnered on her recent research trip to Tahiti to present The Pearl, an immersive video work that addresses the history of the colonising of the female body in Polynesia. And New Zealander Robin White, whose works created in collaboration with Ebonie Fifita dramatise imagined encounters between Matisse and figures from the world of the Asia-Pacific. There is also be a stunning display of tivaevae – the Polyne
  • Art
  • Sculpture and installations
  • Macquarie Park
You know Sculpture by the Sea and you know Sculpture at Scenic World. Perhaps you even know Hidden at Rookwood Cemetery. But do you know about Eden Unearthed at Eden Gardens?  It’s the annual outdoor sculpture exhibition that takes place among the flowers and plants at Macquarie Park’s popular display garden Eden Gardens. The free exhibition, the largest privately funded exhibition of its kind in Australia, is showcasing 35 art installations from November through to April 2022. Well known artists will be presenting cutting-edge works ranging from sculptures to textile works and interactive sound and light installations. Imagine giant dragonflies, floating houses, a labyrinth made from sticks and stones, and a 'living biofield' of lichens and tardigrade micro-organisms. The exhibition is competitive and a prize of $10,000 will be awarded at the launch event on Sunday October 31. The launch begins with a traditional smoking ceremony in the gardens and finishes on the lawn with a Q&A with the artists. The ticket price of $20 covers seasonal canapĂ©s and bubbles – tickets are available now. Never been to Eden Gardens? Located beside Lane Cove National Park, 20 minutes’ drive from the Sydney CBD, the centre includes lifestyle retail, cafĂ©, display garden, florist, corporate meeting rooms and wedding and function venue hire. The display garden has an orangery, elaborate water gardens, grotto, native garden, forest and woodland garden. Most of it is wheelchair accessible, and there
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  • Art
  • Paintings
  • price 0 of 4
  • Sydney
Pintupi artists from the Western Deserts came together in 2000 to drive a hugely successful fundraising campaign, auctioning off beautiful large-scale works to help fund The Purple House, a First Nations-run, community-controlled, non-profit health service. Two decades later, that service has grown exponentially, and Art Gallery of NSW salutes their remarkable achievements. Curated by Time Out Arts Future Shaper Coby Edgar, The Purple House exhibition – on display and free to visit until February 27, 2022 – brings together eight historically significant works by Pintupi artists. Edgar says, “The Purple House is an example of how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can be successful in developing business models that work for their communities. The Purple House helps people living in remote communities, including some of Australia’s most senior artists, to lead happier and healthier lives, allowing them to record and share their stories for future generations.’ The Purple House director Irene Nangala adds, “I was in Sydney for that auction 21 years ago. We were dreaming for one dialysis machine in Kintore so that our families could come home. It was a great night. We were all so proud and happy. People were very kind. The money raised helped us get our family home to Kintore and then we kept going and going. We are still working hard to help get more people home and keep their spirits strong.” Need more art in your life? Here's our guide to what's opening. 
  • Art
  • Design
  • Ultimo
The ubiquitous gum tree gets the artistic celebration it truly deserves with a new exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. Drawing on over 400 objects from the museum's vast collection, Eucalyptusdom explores our changing relationship to the local hardwood, and artists’ many creative uses of the material. The exhibition is free to visit with general museum entry.  Running until August 2022, the exhibition takes its title from a 1930s text by Edward F Swain, one of Australia’s earliest conservationists. The show highlights the relationship between eucalypts and First Nations Australians, the trees’ important role in the Federation arts and crafts movement, plus the Powerhouse Museum’s unique and longstanding relationship with the eucalypt. Rarely seen items you’ll be able to have a gander at include over 100 timber specimens dating from the 1800s, botanical illustrations and early glass-plate photographs. It also showcases 17 new commissions, including from Trawlwoolway multidisciplinary artist Julie Gough. She documents eucalypt trees situated in the vicinity of sites of conflict and violence between Tasmanian Aboriginal people and colonists from the late 1700s to early 1800s. There’s also a work by Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones, working with Wiradjuri Elder Dr Uncle Stan Grant Sr AM, that considers the connection to the guardian ancestor Dharramalin, central to men’s initiation ceremonies. Nicholas Mangan’s new work analyses the complex history of objects in the Pow
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  • Art
  • Photography
  • Ultimo
Take a peek into the glittering four decade long career of one of Australia’s foremost social photographers. In his heyday, Robert Rosen attended parties, concerts, fashion events and nightclubs across London, Europe and Australia. He documented the famous and infamous from Sydney's spectacular Rat Parties in the 1980s to the exclusive Australian Fashion Week events. A participant observer and the antithesis of the pushy paparazzi stereotype, Rosen was known for being polite and discreet, intimately capturing the rich, famous and fabulous for the social pages of a slew of local and international newspapers and magazines. Glitterati presents over 974 photographs and includes images from Rosen’s early career in London and Paris capturing the fashion shows of iconic designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Claude Montana and Zandra Rhodes. You’ll also spot an eclectic mix of celebrities in his photographs at peak moments of their cultural impact, including Paul McCartney, Bryan Ferry, Elle McPherson, Peter Morrissey, Divine, Paul Capsis, Nina Simone, Boy George, Andy Warhol, Grace Jones, Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman, Luciano Pavarotti, Lady Sonia McMahon, Elton John and Michael Hutchence. Glitterati is open at the Powerhouse Museum until June 19 2022. Admission is free with museum entry.
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  • Art
  • Digital and interactive
  • price 0 of 4
  • Sydney
Embracing these hybrid times when we’re often online more than we’re out and about, the Art Gallery of New South Wales has launched the mother of all digital galleries, and it’s a kaleidoscopic trip to creative wonderland. Part of their ongoing Together in Art series, Hyper-linked assembles seven exciting contemporary Australian artists pushing the envelope on how we engage with art from wherever we are in the world. Heath Franco’s 'Home Videohome' is a trippy, dystopian stare into the abyss of the interwebs through the search portals of doom. You'll very likely recognise one in particular, but to avoid any nasty lawsuit, it's been rebranded as Newspider. Get caught up in this web full of unnerving animalistic figures and ‘90s-style pop video imagery gone awry. It’s wrong-town in all the right ways. Justene Williams’ explosively colourful video 'The Unboxers' opens with shades of apocalyptic wrestling matches and a montage with a glimpse of a superhero-like character who resembles someone who rhymes with Maptain Carvel (prob don’t want Disney legalling this either). With creatures that look like sun-melted lollies and a bizarre egg experiment, it’s loopy goodness inspired by the unfurling of the legendary Bob Fosse's jazz hands. JD Reforma’s dreamy drone imagery in ‘I Want to Believe’ captures stolen glances of the world as seen from Sydney’s rooftops, with the traffic drifting by oblivious below. Exploring the idea of escape from abusive relationships, what at first seems li

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