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The Art Gallery of NSW Will Launch Its Sydney Modern Project with New Works by Nine Artists

Yayoi Kusama, Jonathan Jones, Lorraine Connelly-Northey and Lee Mingwei are all creating original pieces for the art gallery's expansion.
By Ben Hansen
March 24, 2022
By Ben Hansen
March 24, 2022

The Art Gallery of NSW is set to unveil the results of its multimillion-dollar expansion and renovation project later this year. Originally announced in 2017 and officially given a green light in 2018, the Sydney Modern Project is now finally set to be complete before the end of 2022. And, as part of the expansion's opening, the gallery has commissioned original works from nine acclaimed local and international artists.

The artists enlisted to create works for the opening comprise an impressive list: Yayoi Kusama, Lorraine Connelly-Northey, Karla Dickens, Simryn Gill, Jonathan Jones, Richard Lewer, Lee Mingwei, Lisa Reihana and Francis Upritchard. Spanning huge artworks from First Nations artists through to intricate installations worked into the building's architecture, the creations will be displayed across the site both indoors and outdoors, with some viewable to the public day and night.

Highlights include a floral sculpture from Yayoi Kusama that'll be placed on the new building's terrace, and be able to be seen at all hours; huge wire and iron bags from Waradgerie (Wiradjuri) artist Lorraine Connelly-Northey; and, by Simryn Gill, a life-sized rubbing of a century-old tree that was removed to create the Sydney Modern Project.

Yayoi Kusama

A family of fantastical figures inspired by local Moreton Bay fig trees will be created by New Zealand-born artist Francis Upritchard, too — to be installed in the building's Welcome Plaza, greeting those that enter the gallery.

Other notable works span a multi-panel painting by Richard Lewer, celebrating the labour and personalities behind the Sydney Modern Project, plus a trans-Tasman sci-fi moving-image work from Māori artist Lisa Reihana.

The list of pieces goes on, with the full program of commissioned works available at the AGNSW website.

"The extraordinary Sydney Modern Project art commissions connect deeply with our sense of place in Sydney and the architecture and landscape around them," AGNSW Director Dr Michael Brand said. "They'll be some of the first artworks that welcome visitors to our expanded campus, with many able to be experienced night and day."

Funded by a $344 million public and private collaboration comprised of $244 million from the NSW Government and $100 million raised by private donations, the Sydney Modern Project will see the AGNSW double its current exhibition space, incorporating an entirely new 7830-square-metre building and a gallery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

It will also add some new elements to the existing building, with new pools, greenery and public spaces being added to the cultural institution's longstanding gallery forecourt.

The Sydney Modern Project is set to be completed later this year — we'll update you with an exact opening date when it is announced.

Top image: Sydney Modern Project render as produced by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA

Published on March 24, 2022 by Ben Hansen
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