Each year, the Museum of Contemporary Art invites an artist or curator to take the reins of Primavera: Young Australian Artists, an exhibition for emerging artists under 35. The brief is simple: showcase artists from across Australia who they feel represent current trends or styles emerging in the next generation. This simplicity is its greatest asset: it means each artist-curator gets the chance to put their own stamp on the exhibition, and every show is unique. As a bonus, the show has a reputation for identifying Australian art’s next big thing before they go on to international stardom.
The twice rescheduled 30th edition, Primavera 2021 is curated by Melbourne-based Aboriginal curator, Hannah Presley. Her curatorial process is guided by artists, learning about the techniques, history and community that inform their making. The talented curator has many strings to her bow, and Primavera represents the first major exhibition she has taken charge of that is not solely focussed on First Nations artists.
This year you can see a collection of deconstructed paintings from Dean Cross, a Worimi artist who lives and works on Gadigal Country (Sydney), after eyeing up Primavera for many years, Cross just scrapes in (he turns 36 during the exhibition run). There’s also a collection of multidimensional, organic ceramic forms from Tarndanya (Adelaide) based artist Sam Gold; a video installation from Darug and Gadigal Country (Sydney) based artist Justine Youssef, which was filmed in a Western Sydney bakery that no longer exists; a delicate installation involving a fish net hand embellished with scales from Quandamooka woman and Brisbanse based artist Elisa Jane Carmichael; and a gloriously playful and feminine installation from Narrm (Melbourne) based artist Hannah Gartside, that combines her skills from her former career as a costumier with simple robotics to share the stories of great women artists who have been forgotten by history.
Presley says: “The artists participating in Primavera 2021 have created works that draw on personal narratives whilst also considering the history and implicit memory that resonates within their selected materials. As this year’s curator, I was interested in exploring the choices each artist makes as their work evolves, what is brought forward and what is left behind.”