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The MCA has unveiled Sun Xun's 40-metre painting

Sun Xun Museum of Contemporary Art MCA 2018 photo supplied
Photograph: Jacquie Manning, courtesy the artist Sun Xun, 'Maniac Universe' 2018, installation view, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

When the Museum of Contemporary Art's big Pipilotti Rist exhibition wrapped up earlier this year, we were left craving a bold splash of colour, captivating video work and room-filling artworks. That yearning has been met with the MCA's new exhibition, the first solo show in Australia from one of Chinese art's most exciting young talents, Sun Xun.

Sun works across a crazy number of mediums: painting, drawing, woodcuts, installation, calligraphy, film and animation. It's those animations for which he's probably best known, and there are plenty showing at the MCA as part of the exhibition. They're meticulously crafted, some using tens of thousands of hand-made woodcuts and drawings.

While Sun's studio is based in Beijing, he spends about nine months of the year travelling the world, gathering inspiration and making art as he goes. For several years now he's been collecting the free newspapers handed out at airports and making his own artworks upon them – sometimes sprawled out across a terminal floor, and at other times on the tiny fold-out table in an economy plane seat. He considers these work sketches, but the MCA has convinced him to exhibit them for the first time.


Sun Xun 'Newspaper Paintings', 2015–18, installation view, MCA
Photograph: Jacquie Manning, courtesy the artist


At the centre of the exhibition is 'Maniac Universe', a new 40-metre painting on handmade mulberry bark paper made specifically for the work. It's a very fragile material to work with but snakes around and fills one of the MCA's first floor galleries, painted with phosphorescent elements that glow white and purple and ultraviolet lights. It features oversized paintings of animals you wouldn't usually expect to see together in a single artwork: a bat, a horse, a chicken, a grasshopper, a lobster.


Sun Xun 'Maniac Universe' 2018, installation view, MCA
Photograph: Jacquie Manning, courtesy the artist


The Museum of Contemporary Art's Sun Xun exhibition is free and open until October 14.

Looking for more to see across the city? Check out the best art in Sydney this month.