Bark painting is among the most recognisable Aboriginal art, but you mightn’t know that it was only popularised in the 1930s. One of the greatest exponents of bark painting – and one of the greatest exponents of Aboriginal art in general – is John Mawurndjul, who rose to international fame in the late 1980s and ‘90s.
Plenty of Sydney art lovers would've discovered the work of Sun Xun this year at White Rabbit's latest exhibition. It featured a hell of a lot of his paintings and drawings splashed across the gallery's walls, but for those wanting to get even better acquainted with the artist's output, the Museum of Contemporary Art is presenting his first solo Australian exhibition.
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 fortyish finalists offers plenty to argue over, featuring faces familiar and not, by big name, mid-career and emerging painters.
If you’ve ever walked the halls of the Art Gallery of NSW and smelt the scents of cumin, turmeric, paprika and cloves wafting towards you, you’ll be familiar with Ernesto Neto’s huge stalactite-like art installation Just like drops in time, nothing. Neto’s creation, alongside those by seven other contemporary installation artists, will be on show as part of the gallery’s new exhibition.
At the centre of Laka, an artistic collaboration between S. Shakthidharan and Rosalee Pearson, is a feature-length film telling the story of Lily, a Yolngu woman from the Northern Territory, and her husband Siddhartha, a Sri Lankan Australian.
In celebration of NAIDOC Week and coinciding with the theme ‘Because of her, we can!’, the Bearded Tit is handing over their space to three First Nations women who use their art to decolonise mind and body, and to challenge notions of privilege, culture and personal history.
This exhibition contrasts some of the Artbank collection's classical landscape paintings against new works created by six Australian contemporary artists. Each artist's practice is varied, creating a collection of responses that explore their personal perspective, its relationship to experience, and how it in turn it is imbued in their work. From Where We Stand explores how artists meditate over the world and then portray it, examining the inseparable relationship between perspective, experience and physicality. Curated by Artbank director Tony Stephens, the exhibition showcases works from Yvette Coppersmith (this year's Archibald Prize winner), Ricky Emmerton, Anna McMahon, Sean Meilak, Rusty Peters and Lisa Sammut.
Frank Hurley lived an extraordinary life in just about every way imaginable. Born in Sydney, he became the official photographer for multiple expeditions to Antarctica, led by Douglas Mawson and Ernest Shackleton, including one in which the party became stranded for two full years, from 1914 to 1916.
Cement Fondu is one of Sydney's newest galleries, having only opened in March this year. Its next exhibition looks at the relationship between personal narratives and migrant communities and features video and installation works from five artists.
Some artists might try to look past the rust, grime and dilapidation of the urban environments they're capturing. Not Joshua Smith. In his first solo exhibition, he takes cities at their most honest – falling apart, covered in unfashionable graffiti – and creates aesthetically intriguing miniature models of buildings and shopfronts, complete with overflowing dumpsters and colourful signage.
All good design should be functional, but the work in this show extends even beyond that, with design responding to the world’s most pressing social, ethical and environmental challenges. This doesn’t just mean that the designs on show are made from sustainable materials, but many offer up new solutions in and of themselves.
The MCA's collection hang is where you go to get an overview of Australian contemporary art – and it's less daunting than it sounds. The last time they curated the hang was in 2012 (MCA Collection: Volume One), for the launch of the re-designed building, so there are a whola lotta new eye-candies to wrap your brain around.
Step outside the gallery
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.