Worldwide icon-chevron-right South Pacific icon-chevron-right Australia icon-chevron-right Sydney icon-chevron-right The best art exhibitions in Sydney this month

The best art exhibitions in Sydney this month

There's creativity in every corner of the city this month – check out these must-see exhibitions

Liang Tao, 'Luofu Dream–Pink Pink, 2006
Photograph: Supplied Liang Tao, 'Luofu Dream–Pink Pink, 2006
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Our city's galleries are packed to the rafters with gorgeous and thought-provoking art this July, ranging from the Art Gallery of NSW's Duchamp blockbuster (essential for anybody wanting to understand the evoltuion of contemporary art) to the MCA's free show of spectacular paintings by Kenyan artist Michael Armitage. Carriageworks is showing Matthew Sleeth's stunning film 'A Drone Opera', and there's a fascinating exhibition at the National Art School all about the art of theft.

And of course, you can't forget the Archibald Prize, with all those famous faces on show this month.

RECOMMENDED: Check out the best art galleries in Sydney and see our city's best street art.

The best art in Sydney in June

1
The National 2019: New Australian Art Tom Polo Anna Kucera
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Art, Galleries

The National Biennial of New Australian Art

The National happens in the off-years of the Biennale of Sydney, filling that biennale-shaped hole in your heart. The galleries have planned to run the event three times – 2017, 2019 and 2021 – but if all of Sydney turns out to support it they might just extend.

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The Essential Duchamp Art Gallery of NSW supplied
© Association Marcel Duchamp/ADAGP. Copyright Agency, 2018
Art

The Essential Duchamp

icon-location-pin Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
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Marcel Duchamp is best known for game-changing works like ‘Bicycle Wheel’ (1913) – a wheel attached to a chair – and ‘Fountain’ (1917) – a store-bought urinal inscribed with the facetious name ‘R Mutt’. The official mid-20th century reproductions of these lost works are at the centre of the largest exhibition of Duchamp’s art to be shown in Australia.

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3
Michael Armitage: The Promised Land MCA 2019
Michael Armitage, 'The Promised Land' 2019
Art

Michael Armitage: The Promised Land

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks
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Kenyan-born artist Michael Armitage is only in his mid-thirties but his uniquely beautiful paintings are in huge demand around the world. The MCA is presenting his first exhibition in Australia, which includes recent work and new large-scale paintings telling stories of folklore, history and memories from East Africa.

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Shaun Gladwell Pacific Undertow MCA supplied
Shaun Gladwell, 'Pacific Undertow Sequence (Bondi)' (still), 2010
Art

Shaun Gladwell: Pacific Undertow

icon-location-pin Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks
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Shaun Gladwell is best known for his mesmerising slow motion video works depicting him skateboarding or riding BMX bikes against classic Australian backdrops, or more recently, for his virtual and augmented reality works that have been shown at the Cannes and Sydney Film Festivals. 

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5
OK Democracy, We Need to Talk
Photograph: Abdullah MI Syed. Courtesy the artist.
Art

OK Democracy, We Need to Talk

icon-location-pin Campbelltown Arts Centre, Campbelltown
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Who said art isn’t political? With the federal election happening this month, Campbelltown Arts Centre is taking a stand, with a new exhibition that aims to encourage open discussion about democracy and its future.

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The Invisible Hand 4a supplied image 2019
Baden Pailthorpe, 'One and Three PCs', 2019 (detail)
Art

The Invisible Hand

icon-location-pin 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Haymarket
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Since Tim Berners-Lee developed the first webpage in 1991, the internet has come to dominate the globe in such a way that it’s now almost impossible to imagine life without it. 

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7
Art, Film and video

Wellama

icon-location-pin The Cutaway, Barangaroo
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On May 30, a very special temporary installation opened in the entrance to the Cutaway, the cathedral-like underground cultural space that is part of the Barangaroo urban renewal project. Commissioned by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, ‘Wellama’ is a new, ten-minute filmed artwork that celebrates the connection of Aboriginal people to the land and portrays some of the rituals that have been practised here for thousands of years.

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Here is Your Horizon Cement Fondu 2019
Niki Hastings-McFall
Art

Here is Your Horizon

icon-location-pin Cement Fondu, Darlinghurst
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Cement Fondu is only a little over a year old but the Paddington gallery is already making a significant impact. Its current exhibition features work by artists from Australia and New Zealand with Pacific heritage, pushing the boundaries of the traditional practice of “adornment”.

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9
Caught Stealing National Art School 2019 supplied image
Joan Ross, 'The Claiming of Things' 2012
Art

Caught Stealing: The Art of Misappropriation

icon-location-pin National Art School, Darlinghurst
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The National Art School is built on the site of the old Darlinghurst Gaol, a place where people were imprisoned and even hanged for their crimes. So it's somewhat fitting that this exhibition at the NAS Gallery is all about artists who use theft as part of their creative practice, and artists who are deliberately caught in the act.

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A Drone Opera Carriageworks 2019
Photograph: David McKinnar
Art, Film and video

A Drone Opera

icon-location-pin Carriageworks, Eveleigh
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When Matthew Sleeth premiered A Drone Opera in Melbourne in 2015, audiences were seated inside a cage for their own safety. The performance featured haze, lasers and opera singers, but the cage was to protect the audience from any accidents that might occur involving the show's star performers: a group of high-tech flying drones.

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11
Casula Powerhouse Moon landing exhibitions 2019 suppleid
Photograph: Supplied
Art

Giant Leap

icon-location-pin Casula Powerhouse, Casula
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July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landings and to celebrate, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre is launching a month of lunar-themed arty events, including three new exhibitions. 

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Art, Galleries

The Archibald Prize

icon-location-pin Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
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The Archibald Prize is the exhibition that stops a nation – well, a city anyway. Everyone has an opinion about who and what is most deserving of the $100,000 top gong – and the annual exhibition of finalists offers plenty to argue over, featuring faces familiar and not, by big name, mid-career and emerging painters.

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13
Art

Hot Blood

icon-location-pin White Rabbit, Chippendale
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White Rabbit Gallery promises their latest exhibition is “not for the faint of heart”. It brings together 23 contemporary artists, all of whom are unafraid of taking risks and refuse to be limited by gender, age or national identity.

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52 Artists 52 Actions Artspace 2019
Abdul Halik Azeez for 52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS, September, 2018, courtesy the artist
Art

52 Artists, 52 Actions

icon-location-pin Artspace, Wooloomooloo
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What do you get when you combine 52 artists from 31 countries and give them each a week to make a statement about an issue that concerns them, sharing it with audiences online?

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Dedicated to the Dedicated: Whitlams exhibition supplied image
Study for Bird Ritual, John Coburn. With kind permission from the Coburn family
Art

Dedicated to the Dedicated: Whitlam, the Arts and Democracy

icon-location-pin Margaret Whitlam Galleries, Parramatta
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There once was a time when Australia's prime ministers took an active interest in the arts, and there was arguably no greater arts champion than Gough Whitlam.

Step outside the gallery

Jenny Munro
Photograph: Ken Leanfore
Art, Public art

The best public art in Sydney

Public art – in any city – is a notoriously fraught business. No matter how hard you try to make everyone happy, every work will have its detractors. 

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