Art Month is looking pretty damn incredible this year. Not only are the city's creative spaces to be blessed by a veritable smorgasbord of artistic talent, but we're also looking at the return of Art at Night, where guests can explore the artistic underbelly of our fine city under the cover of darkness. The Art Month program features a number of talks, tours, exhibitions and contemporary theatre shows happening across a huge number of gallery and creative spaces in Sydney. We've picked out ten of the best things to see and do during Art Month, to save you from becoming overwhelmed.
LEARN THE COMPLEX TRADITIONS BEHIND JAPANESE CERAMIC ART
In this artist talk at the Japanese Foundation Gallery in Chippendale, two members of the boundary-pushing Japanese art group Ikeyan will discuss modern art, sculpture, function and methods of constructing ceramics according to Japanese tradition. Japanese art holds the form and function of a piece at equal importance. It finds the beauty in crafting everyday objects with care. The two award-winning speakers push the boundaries in ceramics and pottery, and seek to invigorate traditional craftsmanship with their experimental glaze research, new forms, suggestive sculptural works, and functional tableware.
VISIT A COLOURFUL EXHIBITION IN CHIPPENDALE
Our society as a whole has moved into the digital age, so it's no surprise that art is coming along for the ride. Art is a reflection of our culture, and this is reflected in Genevieve Felix Reynolds' latest exhibition, Vanity Cult. Reynolds' artworks look at the impacts that technology have had on art, especially within the medium of painting. She created geometric versions of historical objects, to comment on the pleasure-seeking immediacy of the post-internet generation. The exhibition is on from February 15 to March 12 in Chippendale.
SEE A THOUGHT-PROVOKING PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION
Atong Atem is from Melbourne via South Sudan. These two worlds mix in her photographs, which will be on show at the Australian Centre for Photography, in partnership with Customs House. Her textural, colourful and thought-provoking photographs lean on portraiture to explore the behavioural relics of colonialism that still pervades the lives of a dislocated people, and the identities that individuals create. Atem's portraits stare at you, challenging the audience to look at the politics of looking and being looked at. It's a powerful exhibition that explores the interplay of private and public, history and identity. Us is on from February 13 to April 30.
EXPLORE FANTASY AND REALITY AT A MYSTICAL EXHIBITION
There's something magical in Leah Fraser's work. There's a sense of mysticism that surrounds Within You, Without You, an exhibition on show at the Arthouse Gallery in Rushcutters Bay from March 2 to March 18. Her work blurs the frayed edges between fantasy and reality, and is heavily influenced by the non-corporeal world, from the myths of gods amongst men, stories of our creation, and the beginnings of life in the universe. The characters that appear on the canvas create a story in which they participate, manipulated on the canvas to explore the more complex questions we, as humans, have.
LEARN ABOUT THE CHANGING NATURE OF COLLECTING ART
The art world has had to change the way that it delivers work, in order to keep up with this rapid shift in information consumption. Click & Collect is a panel discussion between five contemporary artists that examines the changing climate of art and art appreciation, and how the art world has changed with the advent of digital consumption and instant gratification. The informative talk will be a discussion of the changing climate of art collection, in the age of Instagram, social media and smaller art fairs. Five diverse collectors will share their fun, fears and fortunes.
Image: Jenny Chews.
GO ON A GUIDED TOUR OF CONGEE BREAKFASTS HAYMARKET
Before the Rain, an exhibition currently on show at the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, looks at the power of a nation's people and explores what can be accomplished when we all share a common goal. To complement the exhibition, gallery director Michael Do is taking a small group on a Hong Kong-style breakfast congee tour of Haymarket. At 10am on Saturday March 11, take a 30-minute tour of the congee options in Haymarket and indulge in some of the best dishes in town, before heading to the gallery to take in the exhibition.
SEE SOME SURREALIST DINOSAURS WITH BOOBS
Art can often be confusing. What does the artist see? What do I see? Is that an arm? I'm not sure, it could be a surrealist pencil leaking out of a pink tap. Art relies on the disjunct between what we see and how we feel, and it's in this uncomfortable confusion that we'll often get lost. Sometimes, though, an artwork is called Booby Dinosaur and that's exactly what it is. This image, among others, is on display at the Newtown ArtSeat, and asks questions about the fluidity of gender, female identity and sexuality. It's on show from March 1 to March 31.
TAKE A SECOND LOOK AT ICONIC AUSTRALIAN IMAGERY
Max Dupain's iconic photography has become synonymous with Sydney, from the images of the construction of our landmarks, to the simple observation of people at the beaches. Sunbaker (pictured) is one of those works. Taken in 1937, it's a simple image of a man, still wet from the ocean, lays out on the sand and soaks in the sun. The Australian Centre for Photography invited 15 Australian artists to prepare their own response to this iconic photograph as part of an exhibition called Under the Sun. At the ACP, take a look at these artist's own impression of what Sunbaker means to them.
WATCH SOME CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE CRIME THEATRE
The newest play from rising Japanese playwright Suguru Yamamoto, The Unknown Dancer in the Neighbourhood explores the lives of the residents in a suburb that fringes on the Japanese hinterland. Like so many cities around the world, the suburb is alive by day, bristling with the energy of countless bodies shifting around and ignoring each other. At night, however, the neighbourhood gives way to a cesspool of crime and fear. It's a fusion of dance and theatre, as actor Wataru Kitao uses his body as well as Yamamoto's words to explore the deep histories of the residents of the neighbourhood. This dance theatre and contemporary drama is presented by The Japan Foundation, Sydney at Eternity Playhouse in Darlinghurst.
EXPLORE THE ROLE OF ART IN GENDER POLITICS
The role of art is to question, and this exhibition of glass and ceramic works assumes its role with great gusto. Domestic Goddess explores the themes surrounding the domestic routine, and how the preparation of the home has been something seen as female-centric throughout history. As well as confronting the issue of gender politics, the exhibition also looks at the way that commercialism has crept into the home, unnoticed, and affects the way we live in our private spaces.