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Eight Powerful Sydney Art Exhibitions to Step Into This Spring

Discover local emerging artists and catch works by some of the biggest names in art around Sydney this season.
By Concrete Playground
September 30, 2019

Eight Powerful Sydney Art Exhibitions to Step Into This Spring

Discover local emerging artists and catch works by some of the biggest names in art around Sydney this season.
By Concrete Playground
September 30, 2019


Discover local emerging artists and catch works by some of the biggest names in art around Sydney this season.

With the sun shining and everything looking just a little bit more beautiful, spring is the perfect time to head out for a day of gallery hopping around Sydney's many galleries. There are plenty of exhibitions currently showing — or set to open in the next couple of months — covering everything from gallery retrospectives and award-winning photography, to cultural explorations and genre-bending performance works.

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    To celebrate its tenth year, Chippendale’s White Rabbit Gallery is hosting a massive four-month exhibition. Dubbed Then, the show is a deep dive into the gallery’s past, showcasing important pieces that have graced White Rabbit’s halls and walls. It will showcase more than 60 never-seen-before works alongside retrospective pieces.

    Standouts span Wang Zhiyuan’s Object of Desire, which comments on the commodification of love by pairing a giant pair of pink fibreglass underpants with flashing lights and a soundtrack of 1930s Shanghai songs; as well as Chen Wenling’s similarly satirical observation on China’s emerging wealthy class, this time in the form of a porcine red car with an 11-metre gold tongue.

    There’s so much more to see, so before you hop to it here are seven pieces not to miss.

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    One Past Liverpool

    Western Sydney’s Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre is celebrating 25 years of exceptional art with a free anniversary show.

    The exhibition — named One Past Liverpool as a reference to Casula’s place on the train line — features a range of works old and new. Pieces that have graced the walls of Casula Powerhouse in previous exhibitions are shown alongside newly commissioned works from local emerging artists (all under the age of 25, mind you) that are influenced by and respond to the gallery’s past.

    In addition to One Past Liverpool, three other exhibitions are currently on display: Tracey Moffatt’s Body Remembers, local ceramicist Svetlana Panov’s Pure Joy and The Song Tree Project, which is a series of workshops that combine song and needlework.

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    Dark Fantasy

    A new exhibition at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art takes the tropes, motifs and ideologies that you’re probably familiar with from works in the fantasy genre and twists them into a complex, and at times uneasy, exploration of “unhinged otherness”.

    A joint show by Hong Kong-born, Sydney-based illustrator Gerald Leung and Chinese Australian multi-disciplinary artist Louise Zhang, Dark Fantasy celebrates the artists’ personal journeys of identity. Leung and Zhang have used cyberpunk imagery, visceral body horror and their own experiences of otherness to offer insight into the creation of fantastical worlds as a process for establishing a sense of identity.

    The exhibition is running alongside 4A A4, the gallery’s anonymous fundraiser exhibition returning for the first time in five years. Maybe you’ll be inspired to stamp a representation of your identity on your walls and take home some new art.

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    Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year 2019

    Immerse yourself in the wilderness without leaving the city at the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition. More than 100 photographs will transport you to spectacular scenery and put you eye-to-eye with crested-horn sharks, short-beaked echidnas and flying foxes. As well as being completely captivating, the images show the incredible natural diversity of Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and New Guinea.

    The photos will take you from NSW’s snow-capped Australian Main Range to waterfalls in Tasmania and WA’s Cheynes Beach, where the winning photo was taken. The acclaimed shot by local photographer Mat Beetson features a giant dead fin whale that’s being circled by bronze whalers and great whites.

    It’s the first photo taken with a drone to win the competition, with the judges saying the image is “unique and exciting, it reveals incredible beauty in death”.

    Image: Fin Whale’s Demise by Mat Beetson.

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    Japan Supernatural

    The Art Gallery of New South Wales’s upcoming blockbuster exhibition, dubbed Japan Supernatural, is set to feature some legendary Japanese artworks when it opens on November 2 as part of the tenth Sydney International Art Series. Made up of more than 200 works from all over the planet, it’s an exploration of the spirit world in Japanese art including paintings, sculpture, prints, film, animation, comics and games.

    Leading the show is a monumental piece by Tokyo-born Takashi Murakami. He’s a bit of an international rockstar, renowned for bringing together high and low art — much like Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol. Representing a much earlier era will be Katsushika Hokusai, born in Edo in 1760. His best-known piece is Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, a series of wood block prints that includes the now iconic Great Wave off Kanagawa.

    Look out, too, for works by historical artists Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi and Kawanabe Kyosai, as well as contemporary pop artist Chiho Aoshima and photographer Miwa Yanagi.

    Image: Takashi Murakami by Claire Dorn.

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    Mike Parr: The Eternal Opening

    In his latest work, revered Australian performance artist and printmaker Mike Parr transplants a life-sized replica of Melbourne’s Anna Schwartz Gallery into Carriageworks. The Eternal Opening sets out to reconstruct Parr’s minimalist performance LEFT FIELD [for Robert Hunter], which was held at the original gallery in 2017.

    Audiences will move through the long, rectangular box of the replica gallery, while watching video footage of the original performance, showing Parr climbing up and down a ladder, painting white onto walls. As an added layer, audio from the 2017 audience’s first-hand experience reverberates through the space.

    The captivating exhibition is also set to show video documentation of Parr’s 2016 work BDH [Burning Down The House], where hundreds of thousands of dollars (approximately $750,000) worth of the artist’s own prints were artfully arranged, doused in petrol and set alight.

    Image: Mike Parr, Left Field [for Robert Hunter], 2017 by Zan Wimberley.

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    The Art of Banksy

    A retrospective of Banksy’s has made its way back to Australia, featuring 80 of the artist’s off-street masterpieces. The Art of Banksy is a massive collection of pieces by the art world’s chief enigma — including the darkly satirical, overtly political work that has turned the stencil-loving artist into such an infamous icon.

    Endeavouring to take audiences on a journey through Banksy’s output and mindset, the exhibition includes the well-known Flower Thrower, Rude Copper and Girl with Balloon (a version of which was shredded after sale in a highly publicised prank late last year).

    As curated by the artist’s former manager Steve Lazarides, the exhibition is also a little controversial. While every piece is original, unique and authentic, The Art of Banksy proudly boasts that the entire show is 100 percent unauthorised. No, Banksy hasn’t signed off on the event.

    Image: The Art of Banksy, Melbourne, 2016 by Olga Rozenbajgier.

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    Paper Tigers: Posters from Sydney's Long 70s

    Promoting everything from bands and parties to public protests, a vibrant array of colourful signage filled Sydney’s many public spaces back in the 70s — and now the National Art School Gallery has the exhibition to prove it.

    Paper Tigers: Posters from Sydney’s Long 70s displays more than 200 pieces of printed visual culture from the era, spanning everything from music, art, film, theatre and cabaret to feminism, gay liberation and politics. Some of the posters on display were created by now-celebrated artists, including Martin Sharp, Marie McMahon and Chris O’Doherty (as Reg Mombassa).

    The retro showcase will particularly hone in on Darlinghurst, giving attendees a lively snapshot of what the area was like four decades ago. Think art school balls, Oxford Street’s first queer clubs and Radio Birdman’s residency at the Oxford Hotel — all relived in poster form.

    Image: Cabaret Conspiracy at Maxy’s (1979), Karen Hall and Ruth Walker.


Top image: Wang Zhuyan, ‘Objects of Desire’.

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