From the majors to the artist-run, from car park shows to outdoors, here are the best exhibitions and art events in Sydney today.
Almost 50 years ago, two young photographers – Rennie Ellis from Melbourne and Wesley Stacey from Sydney – embarked on a six-month project to photograph the bustling Kings Cross scene. Hippies, artists, drag queens, prostitutes and American GIs on leave from Vietnam all passed in front of their cameras – and the results were immortalised in a 1971 book that was launched with an exhibition and party at the famous Yellow House artists' collective in Macleay Street. The book has been out of print for many years, but Ellis’s images are on show once again this month, as part of Head On Photo Festival. Check out our Head On Photo Festival guide.
A flagship event of the annual Head On Photo Festival, the Head On Portrait Prize reflects the range and depth of the medium as it is practiced in Australia, with past finalists reading like a who's-who of of our photographic scene. The judges for the 2017 Head On Photo Awards are American photographers Maggie Steber and Simon Harsent, curator and Artbank assistant director Daniel Mudie Cunningham, and Head On Photo Festival director Moshe Rosenzveig. Cesar Dezfuli won the Head On Portrait Prize this year with his photograph of 16-year-old Amadou Sumaila, from Mali, taken after he was rescued on the Mediterranean Sea. Parallel to the main Portrait Prize are exhibitions of the Mobile Prize category, for smartphone photogtraphy; and the Head On Student Prize, for primary and secondary school students. Check out our Head On Photo Festival guide.
This exhibition, jointly conceived with the National Gallery of Victoria, represents the most comprehensive survey of Olsens work to date, spanning seven decades and various mediums – from his best-known paintings to ceramics, tapestries and works on paper. The focal point for the exhibition, and its namesake, is the 'You beaut country' landscape series from the ’60s. Olsen painted these after a stint studying in Europe, during which time he developed his unique vision of the Australian landscape.
US artist Shepard Fairey is the man behind the Barack Obama HOPE posters, the ‘We The People’ initiative and the OBEY GIANT art project. He was the first Game Changer announced for this year’s Vivid Ideas festival and while he’s in Sydney he’ll be working on a huge public mural at 309 George Street (June 12-17). Shepard is coming back to Australia for the first time in 14 years and his talk at Sydney Town Hall will cover his tendency to blurs the boundaries of art and design. Shepard will share his processes, as well as talk about the 70-plus large-scale public murals he’s created around the world. Before and after his time in Sydney there’ll be a public exhibition of his music-themed works at Darling Quarter. See the Dates and Times tab for more information about all three. Find more Vivid Ideas talks.
This companion piece to the Art Gallery of NSW's concurrent exhibition Sentient Lands features works by contemporary Aboriginal artists around the theme of the right to land. Our Lands features work by Gordon Bennett, Daniel Boyd, Robert Campbell Jr, Brenda L Croft, Destiny Deacon, Kevin Gilbert, Julie Gough, Gordon Hookey, Djambawa Marawili, Bobby West Tjupurrula, Ben Galmidle Ward and Judy Watson.
One of Sydney’s most popular annual exhibitions, World Press Photo brings together the most astonishing, thought-provoking and often beautiful images published by photojournalists in the past year. The images range from sports and nature photography to snapshots from the frontlines of war; from staged portraits to remarkable candid shots. This exhibition features more than 150 winning images from the 60th World Press Photo – selected from 80,408 images submitted by 5034 photographers from 126 countries. The Photo of the Year winner is Burhan Ozbilici, for his photo of a 22-year-old off-duty police officer the moment after he shot the Russian ambassador to Turkey at an art gallery in Ankara, on December 19.
In this exhibition on tour from Cairns Regional gallery, four of Australia's most exciting artists present new work that explores the wide-ranging impact of colonisation on First Nations communities: Michael Cook (Bidjara, southeast Queensland), Fiona Foley (Badtjala, Fraser Island), Angela Tiatia (who grew up between New Zealand, Samoa and Australia) and Taloi Havini (born in the autonomous province of Arawa, in Bougainville).
Swiss video artist Pipilotti Rist is the subject of the Museum of Contemporary Art's 2017/2018 summer blockbuster – but you can get a taste of what to expect this Autumn, with the NGA's presentation of her 2014 work 'Worry Will Vanish'. The two-wall work, installed in a custom-built room with floor cushions, immerses the viewer in close-up images of nature and the human body. Time Out London wrote of the work: "Coddled and lying on the gallery floor, you can see vast projected visuals of dense vegetation all around you. These segue into glowing, veined caverns. Suddenly you’re back outside with the ferns, travelling at grass height before slipping inside once again to the pulsating, glowing tunnels. "Rist’s video yo-yos between the external and internal, the bucolic and the bodily. The tunnels are, in fact, (computer-generated) interior spaces of the body. At one point you’re at the tip of a toe that’s about to step into the sea, but you’re watching the scene from the inside. It puts a whole new spin on the idea of living in someone else’s skin." Check out our hit list for the best art in Sydney this month.
French-Algerian artist Kader Attia spent the early part of his career directly working with communities in and from Africa affected by colonisation and its aftermath. Perhaps it's no wonder then that he creates installation works that explore cultural exchange and the relationship between the West and the wider world. This survey, curated by the MCA's Rachel Kent, features sculptural installations and video works, including the 2007 installation 'Ghost', in which 160 life-size aluminium-foil figures appear to kneel at prayer in formation.
The third edition of the National Gallery of Australia's National Indigenous Art Triennial is dedicated to showcasing the diversity and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practice in Australia, over 30 artists that are predominantly mid-career. Artists working with natural materials and traditional methods, such as Tasmanian Lola Greeno, Tiwi Islander Pedro Wonaeamirri, and South Australian Yvonne Koolmatrie, sit alongside painters Judy Watson, Daniel Boyd and Rusty Peters; photomedia artists Brenda L. Croft and Julie Gough sit alongside sculptural artists such as Ken Thaiday Sr and Yhonnie Scarce, and textile/installation artists Karla Dickens and Vicki West. The line-up is expansive when it comes to East Coast artists who use a wide range of disciplines to highlight issues of colonialism and racism, including Megan Cope, Brook Andrew, Tony Albert, Archie Moore, Dale Harding and Jonathan Jones. Most of the works exhibition in Defying Empire come from the collections of the artists themselves, and from the NGA Collection. The full line-up for Defying Empire is: Tony Albert, Brook Andrew, Sebastian Arrow, Daniel Boyd, Maree Clarke, Megan Cope, Brenda L. Croft, Karla Dickens, Blak Douglas, Fiona Foley, Julie Gough, Lola Greeno, Dale Harding, Sandra Hill, Jonathan Jones, Ray Ken, Yvonne Koolmatrie, Nonggirrnga Marawili, Archie Moore, Laurie Nona, Rusty Peters, Reko Rennie, Brian Robinson, Yhonnie Scarce, Ken Thaiday Sr, Judy Watson, Vicki West, Jason Wing, P