Here are 20 that should be on your radar
Art is for everyone. In fact, art is for everyone. Whatever form it may take in your life, whether it’s a source of inspiration, a meal to fuel your curiosity, a blanket to comfort you, or simply an excuse to dodge the rain, it’s a necessity. And in a city like Sydney, where galleries abound, there are plenty of places to stock up. Below, find 20 art galleries we turn to when the mood takes us.
Sydney bread and butter. Celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2021, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is giving itself (and us) a new $344 million building, complete with art garden, focused on art modern and the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. opened at the end of this year. It is the state’s leading visual arts institution, boasting a collection filled with pieces by Albert Namatjira, Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Lucian Freud, Eugene von Guerard, Margaret Olley and many others. On Wednesday evenings, the gallery hosts Art After Hours where you can stroll through the rooms until late, poring over the current exhibition.
An authority on contemporary art, the MCA is another beloved Sydney institution. Set in the picturesque location of Circular Quay, head here for a rotating list of Australian art mixed with that from abroad. On Friday nights, the gallery stays open late with its rooftop bar open and waiting. And there’s a great gift shop, if you’re into that sort of thing.
What unites the hordes of artists exhibited in the seventeen years since Edward Woodley and Mark Drew co-founded China Heights Gallery is the sincerity of their ideas and their ability to translate them to a diverse audience. . There’s also that unwavering label of cool attached to the Surry Hills-based gallery. But rather than being the result of contrived posturing, it has to do with the champion artists of China Heights. Both fresh out of the gates of art school and working in the industry for years, their unwavering focus and poise (coupled with a distinct style) are sure to turn heads.
It took STATION gallery eight years to multiply and migrate north to Sydney from Melbourne – a decision for which we are nonetheless grateful. Every day you can find a host of artists like Nadia Hernández and Julia Trybala exhibiting within its white walls, and the gallery is emboldened by a goal of fostering rigorous and critical contemporary art practices.
Cement Fondu prepares art with impact. Always thinking of new ways to interact with the public, you won’t find any cookie-cutter pieces here. Instead, the gallery hosts exhibitions where performance art, music, dance, and other creative methods collide to confront and move bold enough to enter the studio space. Recent examples of what you can expect from Cement Fondu include its immersive collaboration with Studio A, Magic putt putt.
Abstract Thoughts Gallery may be new to the art scene, but its leaders are not. It’s a passion project of David Abram and Carla Uriarte, both artists themselves and owners of Darlinghurst’s hot spot, Cafe Freda’s, where the gallery sits above. Shows are sporadic but have accelerated in 2022, with group shows including names like Nadia Hernandez, Jedda Culley and Nakisha Jamieson. Follow the updates on Instagram from the gallery.
For those desensitized to the downtown arts circuit, venture outside your 3 mile radius and make the trip to the Campbelltown Arts Centre. Located on the perimeter of greater Sydney, the edge becomes both a metaphor and a starting point. The Campbelltown Arts Center welcomes artists and communities whose work is otherwise rendered invisible, to take risks, challenge perceptions and confront issues head-on in a safe space kept just for them.
A space imagined in 2018 by Jerico Tracy solely in the name of pairing emerging artists with emerging collectors. At first glance, the Woolloomooloo Gallery is positively teenage, but when you finally enter, you’ll find the opposite to be true. Christiane Spangsberg was one of the first artists to hang on these white walls, with a lineup that reads like Sydney’s greatest hits following in her footsteps. Think Jedda-Daisy Culley and Holly Ryan.
Sydney’s offshoot of its Singapore model, Yavuz has a reputation for representing a diverse group of artists with the aim of promoting cross-cultural dialogue in contemporary art. Paying special attention to artists from the Asia-Pacific region, Yavuz champions art with a social and political lens. Currently, the gallery represents artists like Guy Maestri, Abdul Abdullah, Solomon Kammer and Stanislava Pinchuk.
Once an artist-led initiative, Chalk Horse has since returned to the commercial gallery model in a move towards longevity. Housed in its new digs in William Street, Darlinghurst, the gallery has become a staple of the Sydney art scene, championing local artists and enabling their success abroad. Previous exhibitions have included a solo exhibition by Madeleine Pfull and Catfish by Benoit Dos Remedios.
A chance business venture founded by close friends Ursula Sullivan and Joanna Strumpf. From its Zetland digs, Sullivan + Strumpf has established itself as a commercial heavyweight gallery with an appetite for contemporary art originating in the Asia-Pacific region.
A haven if you’re hungry for established Australian artists whose main practice leans towards photographic media. With a flagship in Berlin as well as Chippendale, Michael Reid recognizes the importance of growing his artist profiles globally and locally. Previous exhibitions have included works by Tamara Dean and Dr. Christian Thompson AO.
A space forged by Tim Olsen, the son of the famous Australian painter John Olsen, a deep respect and admiration for art lessons through the walls of the galleries and in its international branches. Olsen has nurtured and cultivated a body of artists who he says “present a comprehensive and poignant view of contemporary arts in Australia”. See what he means at his seat in Paddington.
Essential to the cultural and artistic fabric of the country, Roslyn Oxley9 has been in full swing since 1982 and prides itself on having nurtured the careers of artists such as Tracey Moffatt, David Noonan, Fiona Hall, Patricia Piccinini and Bill Henson. It also features the works of iconic international artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Tracey Emin and Yayoi Kusama.
Another Western Sydney gem. Located in Darug Lands, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and communities form the core of the works displayed in this space. Blacktown Arts is recognized and appreciated for its ability to give its local communities a platform to share their stories and experiment with artistic practices. It is a living example of the belief that art is for everyone.
Located on an unsuspecting street corner in Waterloo, the Darren Knight Gallery is practically a veteran of the Sydney art world. The gallery consists of two exhibition spaces, where individual and group exhibitions are regularly held. Associate artists include Robert Rooney, Saskia Leek, Anthony Hopkins, Kushana Bush, and many more.
White Rabbit Gallery is in possession of a meticulous collection of contemporary Chinese art, with over 2,000 works by nearly 700 artists. Funded by billionaire Judith Neilson, the collection is the result of endless travels to China and Taiwan since Neilson first flocked to Beijing in the 1990s. she saw, Judith Neilson made it her mission to share these works with people outside of China.
Art as a tool. Splayed in The Gunnery, a site that was used as an artists’ squat in the decade between 1970 and 1980, Artspace is a must visit for anyone in and around Woolloomooloo. Originally created as a protest against commercial galleries and AGNSW, Artspace’s political edge has never faded. Here you will find experimental and collaborative works, intended to shape public conversation and foster meaningful engagement with contemporary art.
Nestled in Surry Hills is Brett Whiteley’s studio, a converted warehouse where the artist worked during his final years. Through careful preservation, the studio remains in some sections, just as Whiteley left it on the day he died in 1992. Find a mix of unfinished paintings, art supplies, sketchbooks, photographs, music and personal memories, all painting a portrait of the late expressionist. artist, as well as temporary exhibitions presenting his work. On Saturdays, the studio offers life drawing classes, but you will need to register in advance to attend.
If you want to know what the future of Australian art looks like, consider the National Art School’s Gallery your crystal ball. It is a breeding ground for budding artists, offering various fine arts degrees where students can specialize in disciplines like ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture. Every year it puts on a heartbreaking grad show, and if you’re looking for after-hours art, you need to check out its NAS NEO program which runs every Thursday through July.
Now that you have your list of galleries to take away, here are the shows and exhibitions not to be missed in March.