Sydney / Lifestyle / Exhibitions Sydney: Showstopping Art to Check Out in 2020

Exhibitions Sydney: Showstopping Art to Check Out in 2020

Bookmark these thought-provoking exhibitions for your next arty day out
Kate Mitchell, All Auras Touch, 2020, Carriageworks. Image credit: Zan Wimberley.

Slowly but surely, Sydney has become a bona fide art and culture hub. Our galleries and museums are bursting to the brim with world-class artists and exhibitions that delight, excite and enchant. Exhibitions come and go, so be sure to hop on them while they’re here. If you want to be wowed, wander through these mesmerising collections for an instant culture fix. These are the Sydney exhibitions to add to your 2020 cultural calendar.

Kaldor Public Art Project 10: Jeff Koons Puppy, Museum of Contemporary Art forecourt, Sydney, 12 December 1995 – 17 March 1996 Photo: Eric Sierins
Making Art Public: 50 Years of Kaldor Public Art Projects

Premiering at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Making Art Public: 50 years of Kaldor Public Art Projects celebrates one of the world’s most ambitious public art initiatives. Created by British artist Michael Landy, this exhibition surveys the rich history of Kaldor Public Art Projects using artworks, archival materials and reconstructions of past projects. From Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Wrapped coast (1969) to Jeff Koons’ Puppy (1995), Marina Abramovic’s In residence (2015), Jonathan Jones’ barrangal dyara (skin and bones) (2016) and numerous other projects, it revisits some of the most iconic large-scale artworks to have been presented in Australia.

From now until 16th February

Free entry

Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery Rd, The Domain, Sydney 

Daniel Boyd, VIDEO WORKS, 2020, Carriageworks. Image credit: Zan Wimberley.
Daniel Boyd: VIDEO WORKS

Daniel Boyd is a Kudjala/Gangalu artist who works across painting, video and installation. VIDEO WORKS is a site-specific reconfiguration of three major video installations produced by the artist between 2012-18. Combining A Darker Shade of Dark #1-4 (2012); History is Made at Night (2013); and Yamani (2018), the installation will map the walls of the gallery with Boyd's signature cosmos of dynamic compositions and prismatic colour. Proposing an immersive journey through time and space and set to scores by Ryan Grieve and Leo Thomson,  the works will commence simultaneously and continue to loop in an ever-changing sequence of image and sound.

From now until 1st March

Free entry

Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh

Kate Mitchell, All Auras Touch, 2020, Carriageworks. Image credit: Zan Wimberley.
Kate Mitchell: All Auras Touch

All Auras Touch presents a snapshot of contemporary Australia in colour. Taking the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations as the starting point, artist Kate Mitchell will photograph the aura of one representative for each of the 1023 officially recognised occupations. Captured using the Aura Camera 6000 – an ‘electromagnetic field imaging camera’– each aura portrait will replace an occupation placeholder. As each job title is swapped out over the course of the exhibition, all auras touch.

Known for her often humorously staged action-based performance work, the artist tests the relationship between art and life as she collects and catalogues each participating sitter’s aura. In All Auras Touch Mitchell considers the relationship between what we do and who we are

From now until 1st March

Free entry

Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh

Wiradjuri dancers Lowanna and Lucy Murray perform on untitled (maraong manaóuwi) 2019, Jonathan Jones, Hyde Park Barracks. Image credit: Pedro Greig
untitled (maraong manaóuwi) art installation

Wiradjuri / Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones’ new site-specific public art installation untitled (maraong manaóuwi), co-commissioned by City of Sydney and Sydney Living Museums, covers 2500 square metres of Hyde Park Barracks. Jones’ art installation will be created using red and white stones from Wiradjuri Country in NSW. The artwork juxtaposes two remarkably similar symbols, the maraong manaóuwi – meaning emu footprint in Gadigal, the local Sydney Aboriginal language – and the English broad arrow – evoking colonial military power – to recontextualise the vastly different stories and experiences of the same historical period.

The month-long residency will be accompanied by an extensive public program of around 50 free talks, performances, workshops and live music events by leading Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists, academics and thinkers.

21st February- 15th March

Free entry

Hyde Park Barracks, Macquarie Street, Sydney

Linda Jackson and Jenny Kee (Photo credit- High Stewart)
Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson: Step Into Paradise

Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson: Step Into Paradise draws on more than four decades of one of the most influential pairings in Australian fashion, focusing on the influences and the stories behind their creative work. This immersive in-depth survey brings to light the dynamic energy of Linda and Jenny’s partnership. 

More than 150 garments, photographs, textiles and artworks, many not seen by the public before, from the Museum’s own extensive collection are combined with the designers’ personal archives for the exhibition. Highlights include behind-the-scenes photographs, Jenny Kee’s Chanel suit from the late Karl Lagerfeld’s first collection and Linda Jackson’s acclaimed Waratah dress.

From now until 22nd March

Tickets $15

Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo

MCA Collection: Today Tomorrow Yesterday

The MCA is home to the biggest – and most beautiful – collection of Australian contemporary art. While exhibitions come and go, the gallery has a ‘hang’ of carefully curated artworks that stay on display. Before this, the last time the hang got a shake-up was back in 2012 (MCA Collection: Volume One), so there are plenty of fresh works to feast your eyes on. The collection showcases 40 of the country’s best artists from the 1960s to now, but don’t expect to talk a walk through history. The works aren’t in chronological order. Instead, they draw from the Aboriginal concept of time, which is circular and believes that the past, present and future are connected.

From now until 26th July


Museum of Contemporary Art, 140 George Street, The Rocks

Barbara McGrady, Sista Girls Stylin Up, Mardi Gras 2013
Biennale of Sydney

The Biennale of Sydney is a renowned exhibition of international contemporary art, the third-oldest biennial in the world and the largest exhibition of its kind in Australia. Situated across multiple sites in Sydney and beyond, the Biennale of Sydney is first and foremost a collaborative and interactive endeavour. Artist and First Nation-led, the 22nd Biennale of Sydney will showcase exceptional works of art by artists, creatives and collectives from all around the world – South Africa, Australia, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and beyond.

14th March- 8th June

Free entry

Various locations across Sydney

Rebecca Baumann, Radiant Flux, 2020, Carriageworks. Image credit: Zan Wimberley.
Rebecca Baumann: Radiant Flux

Her most ambitious installation to date, Radiant Flux works with the unique light and space of Carriageworks’ architecture. Spanning over 100 metres in length and nearly 15 metres high, every glass surface of the building’s exterior has been covered by Baumann with luminous dichroic film. Reflecting tones of blue, magenta and yellow, and reflects gold, green and blue, when viewed from different angles the colour range shifts dynamically, ensuring the work is never experienced in the same way twice.

From now until 14th June

Free entry

Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh

Photo credit- NASA
Apollo 11

Named after the space expedition that was the first to successfully land astronauts on the Moon in 1969, upcoming exhibition Apollo 11 will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. With more than 200 objects, Apollo 11 explores this historical moment, its influence on the fields of science and design, and the role Australia played in transmitting man’s first steps on the Moon.

From now until 30th June

Free entry

Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo

Reko Rennie, REMEMBER ME, 2020, Carriageworks. Image credit: Zan Wimberley.
Reko Rennie: Remember Me

For almost two decades, Reko Rennie has made art that references his identity as a Kamilaroi man living and working in an urban environment. Working broadly across painting, sculpture, video and installation and with a practice firmly grounded in the origins of street art and graffiti, Rennie’s signature style is one of high-key colour and complex composition. His finely tuned visual language adapts the shapes and symbols of his Kamilaroi culture with Australian colonial history, interwoven with text and camouflage patterning.

Commissioned by Carriageworks, REMEMBER MEis one of Rennie’s most stripped-back, minimal installations to date. Spanning some 25 meters in length and 5 meters tall, this monumental work is both searing and tender. In the 250th year since Captain James Cook’s first landfall at Kamay Botany Bay and the HMB Endeavour’s charting of the east coast of Australia, Rennie has created a present- day memorial in recognition of the frontier wars, the massacres and the survival of the original sovereigns of this country – the Aboriginal people of Australia. He asks us to consider the personal impact of our past and how history is made today.

From now until January 2021

Free entry

Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh

Looking for more creative inspiration? Check out our list of the best creative classes in Sydney, to help you upskill and discover your new creative outlet. Or get inspired by our interviews with acclaimed local artists  Dina Broadhurst and Bonnie Gray



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