Commercial art galleries are run for profit rather than public interest, but some of Sydney's best seem made for art lovers, with thoughtfully curated exhibitions that are free, in gallery spaces that are conducive to leisurely browsing. Like what you see? Bonus: you can probably buy it.
Key commercial galleries in Sydney
Ursula Sullivan and Joanna Strumpf opened their gallery in 2005. Artists on their roster include Archibald Prize winner Sam Leach; highly acclaimed mulitmedia artist Darren Sylvester; kooky ceramicist Penny Byrne; young Indigenous art star Tony Albert; distinguished abstract expressionist Sydney Ball; clever conceptualist Michael Lindeman; marble sculptor Alexander Seton; and exuberent felt-pen fan Textaqueen.
This gallery's purview is high end Australian, New Zealand and international art, both modern (think the late NZ artist Colin McCahon) and contemporary (think Archibald finalists McLean Edwards and Fiona Lowry) – but it also extends to younger, emerging artists, such as textile sculptor Troy Emery and painter/installation artist Steph Wilson.
If you're looking for Australia's top photographic and multimedia talent, emerging and established, then STILLS is a good place to start. Established in 1991, the gallery has a large stable of artists, including well-known social and documentary photographers William Yang and Ricky Maynard, experimental pioneers Pat Brassington and Anne Ferran, and next generation talent like Narelle Autio, Trente Parke, Polixeni Papapetrou and Petrina Hicks.
Founder and director Amanda Rowell worked at Roslyn Oxley9 as gallery manager before setting up her own outfit in 2012. Her stable of emerging, mid-career and established Australian artists includes Tim Schultz, Stephen Ralph, Archie Moore and Clare Milledge. The Commercial also represents the estates of the late Gunter Christmann and Michael Riley.
Founded in 2006 by collector and philanthropist Luisa Catanzaro, this commercial gallery – located just up the road from the Sydney College of the Arts campus – specialises in contemporary art by artists from the Artereal stable and beyond. Exhibitions range from emerging and student artists to more established practitioners and SCA alumni. Artereal also hosts public programs including screenings and talks.