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 Polynesian art of quilting – crafted by the Cook Islands community of South-Western Sydney.
Living Space, a new display from the gallery collection, is a presentation of more than 70 works from the collection, and is inspired by Matisse's vision of domestic spaces and objects. It reveals how modern and contemporary artists including Betty Woodman and Kamrooz Aram have shaped spaces of intimacy and contemplation. Kids and families are also invited to drop in any time to the Making Space (open until Jan 16) to decorate a mural with magnetic patterns and objects on the theme of belonging designed by White and Fifita.
Matisse Alive is hanging around until April 3, 2022. You can find out more about the program, including workshops and music programs, here.