In the morning, during a lunch-break or after dark – here's what art exhibitions and events are happening in Sydney over the next seven days.
Every Wednesday evening, the Art Gallery of NSW welcomes you into its hallowed halls and throws the ultimate in absolutely free mid-week social and cultural events. Until 10pm, Art After Hours offers a regular program of live music, lectures and celebrity talks, drawing workshops, film screenings, gallery tours and other events – and, of course, nocturnal access to its latest exhibitions. Through March, Art After Hours is focusing on Australian art legend John Olsen, in conjunction with their exhibition John Olsen: The You Beaut Country. In addition to guided tours of the show, there will be a series of talks taking you inside his world and work. See what else is on offer after hours via Sydney's new Wednesday-night Culture Up Late initiative.
The Museum of Contemporary Art's monthly party series is curated by a different artist or collective each edition, and features art, performance and design – with killer views, party tunes and hands-on activities with artists. Since Artbar kicked off in May 2012, we’ve seen the MCA's galleries graced with nude performance art, endurance table tennis, house party-style karaoke, vomit montages, huge inflatables and a live goat. Ah, artists. Never change. The parties tend to sell out in advance, so consider pre-purchasing those tickets. Click through the Dates & Times tab for the line-up for each edition of Artbar.
This exhibition of new Australian art is as simple or complex as you want to make it. On face value alone, it’s worth a trip: colour unleashed on all surfaces except the concrete floors and wood columns, and in every kind of texture – from glossy enamel to matte brushstrokes on glass, and liquid-looking paint ‘skins’ draped over steel frames. Several of the works are op-art sculptures that arrange colour (in hanging strips or neon tubes) to confuse the eye. It’s immediately arresting: the colour palette as surprising as it is bright, and the environment deliberately immersive. In a very literal sense, when you walk through the doors at Artspace, you are walking into a work of art: Rebecca Baumann’s ‘Colour Scenario #3’, comprised of ten painted walls marking the perimeter of the space. Sixteen Dulux hues have been deployed, including Cowardly Custard, Go Alpha, Chloride, Double Bass, Lily Legs, Scampi, Pea Case and Purple Pool. Baumann was the first artist to install her work within the Artspace galleries (for obvious reasons) and the rest of the works were allocated specific spots within the space before curators Alexie Glass-Kantor and Talia Linz had seen the colours of the walls. This has worked out incredibly (perhaps improbably) well: a paint-on-voile piece in a purple and pink palette, by local artist Jonny Niesche, vibrates even more intensely against a wall painted ‘Gold Rush’ yellow. Elsewhere, one of Huseyin Sami’s Colour Wire Hangs looks to have been colour-matc
In 2017, Lights on Later moves from Thursday to Wednesday night, as part of the city-wide 'Culture Night' initiative. It's the same deal, however: extended hours, and (from Wed Jan 11) a program of live music on the terrace, discussions, performances, talks and workshops, to complement the exhibitions. The indoor-outdoor MCA Cafe, on the Sculpture Terrace, also stays open until 9pm. See our hitlist of art exhibitions in January, and make sure you tick off the full list of essential summer culture experiences in our Summer Culture Guide.
A cloud hangs over White Rabbit’s foyer this autumn, a nebulous grey form by New York-based artist Lin Yan. Suspended from the ceiling by black strings (which she conceives of as rain), the piece is made from handmade ‘xuan’ paper – polluted with grey ink, tire tracks, brick rubbings and other vestiges of the industrial world. A smaller cloud form hands above it, almost at ceiling height; at the back of the foyer space hang long strips of pristine creamy-white xuan paper. The work, titled ‘Sky 2’, reflects the artist’s ongoing concern with pollution in Beijing. “Air is life,” she is quoted as saying, in the catalogue note. “When we destroy it, we destroy ourselves.” It’s an appropriate ‘headline act’ for White Rabbit’s show, titled ‘The Dark Matters’ – though in some ways it belies the overall tone of the show, which curator David Williams describes as “Zen”. Williams first had the idea for The Dark Matters during a visit to an artist’s studio in Beijing, in November 2015. “Most of the studios are really higgledy piggledy – but this was the most Zen space I’ve ever been to.” The artist, Shao Fan, designs furniture and paints in black (one of his elegant, minimalist tables has made it into the show, as a pedestal for another artist’s work). “That’s when I thought, let’s just do a really Zen show.” The resulting exhibition, it has to be said, is Zen by White Rabbit standards only (by comparison to preceding shows Vile Bodies, Heavy Artillery and Paradise Bitch, for exampl
In response to the 80th anniversary of Max Dupain's iconic Australian photograph 'Sunbaker', the Australian Centre for Photography commissioned 15 artists from diverse cultural backgrounds and artistic practices to make new works responding to that image. The resulting exhibition, curated by ACP's Claire Monneraye, is a wide ranging investigation into Australian history, cultural identity, national myths, and the medium of photography. Given the nostalgic patina that has accumulated around this image over the decades, this exhibition comes as a rigorous chipping-away from all angles: the history of the image, its aesthetic, its iconography, and its cultural context. Only a handful of the artists identify as 'photographers', and the works range from sculpture to performative videos and photographs and multi-channel installations. Under the Sun features new work by Peta Clancy, Christopher Day, Destiny Deacon, Michaela Gleave, Nasim Nasr, Sara Oscar, Julie Rrap, Khaled Sabsabi, Yhonnie Scarce, Christian Thompson, Angela Tiatia, Kawita Vatanajyankur, Daniel Von Sturmer, Justene Williams and William Yang. Check out our hit list of the best art to see in Sydney in March.
Andy Warhol’s three-decade career might have left an indelible impression on art – and design – but this exhibition of his pre-Pop output reveals a very different artist and individual from the one most of us know. It focuses instead on the ’50s commercial illustrator whose early ‘fine art’ works betrayed influences including Picasso, Matisse and Jean Cocteau, and mined his sexuality for content. Comprised of more than 300 objects from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, curated by AGNSW’s Nicholas Chambers, Adman: Warhol Before Pop is dedicated to roughly ten years of practice from the time the young Carnegie Tech graduate arrived in New York from Pittsburgh, to the first blush of his Pop art epoch – and the last gasp of his career as a commercial illustrator. Warhol Museum curator Jessica Beck points to the artist’s self-mythologising streak as one of the underlying themes of the exhibition: “As soon as he gets off the bus in New York he’s [crafting his persona]; he’s ambitious, and even though he comes from this quite meagre upbringing in Pittsburgh – the youngest of three boys, a working class family – he knows where he wants to go.” As we enter the exhibition, we see a wall-sized photograph of the young Warhol – pre-fright-wig, sporting short hair, a bow-tie and an ill-fitting suit; further down the wall we see a candid snap with his mother Julia Warhola, who was influential in his life and work. Later in the exhibition, materials from Warhol’s personal archive rev
Opened the same week that Trump won the US election, the National Gallery of Australia’s summer blockbuster is, on face value, an exhibition fit for the 45th President: expensive, gold-gilt, opulent; a collection of personal items, furniture, art and objects from a time and place where expenditure was unbridled. But Versailles: Treasures from the Palace is also a testament to a time and place in which a world power put art and culture at the very centre of its identity – something that is quite hard to imagine in contemporary America – or indeed Australia, where 2016 saw massive federal funding cuts for the arts sector. The journey through the exhibition starts with the architect of the Versailles vision: Louis XIV, the self-styled ‘Sun King’. He transformed the palace into a flagship of architecture, design and art for all Europe, in competition with Italianate traditions. Poaching Flemish and Italian artists and artisans, and setting up workshops for tapestry (Gobelins), silk (Lyon) and ceramics (Rouen, Nevers), he eventually made Versailles the model for the rest of Europe, and thus proclaimed a French apex of power – through culture. “If there were no Versailles, world culture would be quite different,” says exhibition curator Lucina Ward. As you make your way through the exhibition the cultural excellence remains in evidence (from the craftsmanship of furniture, to plans showing the sophisticated hydraulics for the gardens) but the story becomes one of changing social
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.
Connection to country is a major aspect of Indigenous Australian identity and culture, and can be seen throughout traditional and contemporary art practice. This exhibition showcases different representations of this connection, from the painting of Dreamtime stories particular to the artist's community, to depictions of native flora and fauna, Dreamtime spirits, and abstract works evoking landscape. Artists featured include Emily Kam Ngwarray, Lin Onus, Mabel Juli, Hector Burton, Sonia Kurarra, Rover Thomas, John Mawurndjul, Judy Watson and Ben Ward.