Six Spectacular Art Exhibitions Hitting Sydney in 2023

Famous Modern masters and significant contemporary artists from Australia and abroad are being celebrated in these unmissable exhibitions.
Joe Rivers
Published on June 30, 2023

Six Spectacular Art Exhibitions Hitting Sydney in 2023

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Famous Modern masters and significant contemporary artists from Australia and abroad are being celebrated in these unmissable exhibitions.

Sydney has really stepped up its art game this year. In addition to increased investment in some of our most beloved galleries, the city has secured exhibitions by some of the most influential artists of their generation from home and abroad across the next few months.

From prizes celebrating Australia's best contemporary art to retrospectives from the masters, there's something for everyone whether you're a studied aficionado or a casual fan. Each of the following exhibitions is worthy of an article in itself, but let's start with a little taster. We've teamed up with Destination NSW to give you the lowdown on the seven of the most anticipated exhibitions to have on your radar.

  • 6
    Adrián Villar Rojas: The End of Imagination

    Described as a “high-sensory experience”, the latest exhibition from Argentinian artist Adrián Villar Rojas promises to have you seeing light and darkness in an entirely new way. The inaugural installation at Art Gallery NSW’s former wartime oil bunker known as the Tank, The End of Imagination is powered by a maelstrom of code dubbed the Time Engine. It generates hypothetical scenarios across millions of years which subsequently inspired the mind-bending sculptures that fill this cavernous space.

    In 2021, Rojas ‘downloaded’ the virtual sculptures and painstakingly recreated them in mixed media before transporting them across the world from his home country. Displayed in a pitch-black environment teeming with moving lights, Rojas’ creations seek to answer environmental, socio-political and anthropological quandaries we haven’t even yet begun to ask ourselves.

    Image: Installation view of Adrian Villar Rojas ‘The End of Imagination’ 2022 in the Tank at the Art Gallery of New South Wales © Adrian Villar Rojas, photo © Jörg Baumann

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  • 5

    More of a festival of art than a standalone event per se, The National is a biennial celebration of contemporary Australian art across four of Sydney’s most prestigious venues: the Art Gallery of NSW, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Carriageworks and The Museum of Contemporary Art.

    This year showcases 80 artists who have created 48 projects between them across a range of disciplines, mediums and themes. Check out Nicholas Smith’s exploration of queerness and sexuality through ceramics and found materials; Katie West’s stories told through dyed fabric; Allison Chhorn’s films spotlighting migrant displacement; and Eugene Carchesio’s small-scale watercolours. There’s a wealth to investigate in this collection of the brightest and best our country has to offer.

    Image: Installation view of Brenda L Croft’s series Naabami (thou shall/will see): Barangaroo (army of me) 2019–22 presented as part of The National 4: Australian Art Now at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, photo © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Mim Stirling

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  • 4

    Awarded for portrait, landscape and genre painting respectively, the winners of this year’s Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes were announced in early May, and you can view all the finalists right now at the Art Gallery of NSW.

    You won’t find spoilers revealing the victors here, but knowing who the winner is doesn’t even matter as you ruminate on self-portraits, moments and moods captured, natural beauty and human achievement in this rich and varied collection. The artists truly push the boundaries of genre and imagination in these moments of self-expression. Entries for the children’s portrait prize, The Young Archie, are also on display, affording you the opportunity to see the work of the next generation of artists — and some of them will blow your mind.

    Image: Visitors in the ‘Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2023’ exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, featuring Archibald Prize 2023 finalists (left to right) Marie Mansfield, Yvette Coppersmith, Kim Leutwyler, Matt Adnate and Angela Brennan, photo © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jenni Carter

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  • 3

    Originally presented as “Vasily Kandinsky: Around the Circle” in New York’s Guggenheim Museum, this in-depth retrospective of one of the early 20th Century’s most notable modernists is coming to the Art Gallery of NSW from Saturday, November 4 to March 2024.

    Visitors to Kandinsky get to experience the changing inspirations and themes in Kandinsky’s work, tracing his beginnings in Germany, his return to his home country of Russia, and final settling place in France. Also inspired by a decade of teaching at the Bauhaus school, Kandinsky attempted to transform himself through his art, as much as his surroundings had a transformational impact on his own artistic practice. At this exhibition you’ll see paintings, woodcuts and watercolours from an artist who was as influential as he was experimental.

    Image: Vasily Kandinsky ‘Landscape with rain’ January 1913, oil on canvas, 70.5 x 78.4 cm, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, photo courtesy Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

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  • 2

    One of the largest exhibitions dedicated to a woman artist in Australia, Louise Bourgeois: Has the Day Invaded the Night or Has the Night Invaded the Day? will be the first monographic exhibition to be presented in the Art Gallery of NSW’s new building.

    Bourgeois was born in 1911 in Paris and would live until 2010. She was one of the most influential artists of the last century, and this gallery presents over 150 works, spanning seven decades of artistry. The gallery is the largest-ever collection of her work to be presented in Australia and will be installed in two gallery spaces – including the tank – from Saturday, November 25 to Sunday, April 28 2024.

    Image: Louise Bourgeois ‘Crouching Spider’ 2003, bronze, brown and polished patina, stainless steel, 270.5 x 835.6 x 627.3 cm, Collection The Easton Foundation, New York © The Easton Foundation, photo: Ron Amstutz.

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  • 1

    The work of British artist Tacita Dean is one of the biggest names in the contemporary art world, a Turner Prize nominee, filmmaker and painter. Her work displays a fixation and fascination with time and memory – and the past five years of her work are coming to the Museum of Contemporary Art this December, as a part of the Sydney International Art Series.

    This exhibition of her work at the MCA – the largest ever in the southern hemisphere – includes designs from The Dante Project Dean’s internationally acclaimed collaboration with choreographer Wayne McGregor and composer Thomas Adès for The Royal Ballet. On show will be recent film works, installations, monumental chalkboard drawings, and photographic and print series. Other works showcased explore history, entropy and chance. For Tacita Dean, time is both precious and precarious and through her work she invites us to study our surroundings in detail while never losing sight of the temporary nature of all things.

    Image: Tacita Dean drawing The Montafon Letter, 2017, image courtesy the artist, Frith Street Gallery, London and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York/Paris, © the artist, photograph: Fredrik Nilsen

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For more information on the many events happening across Sydney and NSW, visit the Destination NSW website.

Images: Destination NSW, Art Gallery of NSW and Museum of Contemporary Art.


Top image: Installation view of Nabilah Nordin’s Corinthian Clump 2023 presented as part of The National 4: Australian Art Now at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, photo © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Mim Stirling.

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