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The National at MCA

  • Art
MCA-goers take in the swirling beauty of Betty Kuntiwa Pumani's Antara
Photograph: Anna Kucera | Antara, 2020, Betty Kuntiwa Pumani

Time Out says

The MCA is showing a diverse range of artworks for its exciting chapter in The National 2021

UPDATE, June 28: As of June 26, the Greater Sydney region including the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains and Wollongong is under a compulsory two-week lockdown until 11.59pm on July 9. Many events in Sydney have therefore been cancelled or postponed until after this period.

There are outstanding riches of colour on offer in the marvellous MCA outing for biennial contemporary art show The National. It’s a veritable cornucopia of creative excellence well worth whiling away a few hours in, especially as Sydney eases into the cooler months. Even when the work is black and white – like Caroline Rothwell’s mesmerically swirling digital animation ‘Carbon Emission 5, Constructivist Rococo’ – it is vibrantly so.

APY Lands artist Betty Kuntiwa Pumani’s beautiful large-scale works on linen are a riot of reds and blues that thrum with desert life. Deborah Kelly’s dazzling video installation and accompanying portraits are whirlwind of human hybrid forms twirling for glory that will put you into a blissed-out trance. There’s a deep blue dingo stalking Pakistan-born, Sydney-based multi-disciplinary artist Mehwish Iqbal’s gorgeous tapestry work ‘Assemblage of the Fragmented Landscape’ and Maree Clarke’s stunning photography of topless men wearing traditional jewellery. Judith Wright’s stunning hanging portraits daubed on Japanese rice paper, and Lauren Berkowitz’ bright plastic pendants are also wow-making.

Everywhere you look there’s something majestic, and nowhere more so than as you walk into the final works of the late First Nations artist Ms Wirrpanda, who was a respected leader of the Dhuḏi-Djapu clan of Dhuruputjpi until her untimely death just a few weeks before the opening of The National. The power of her work speaks for itself, and to share it amongst a wealth of work predominantly by women artists magnifies that matriarchal strength. It's a brilliant show.

Here’s our guide to what you can see elsewhere in The National.

Written by
Stephen A Russell


Opening hours:
Fri 10am-9pm, Sat-Tue 10am-5pm
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