Winter in Sydney (which is summer in the Northern Hemisphere) is a great time to escape a chilly breeze and warm up with a stroll through the city’s art world. The Harbor City is home to several must-see art spaces, including the grand Art Gallery of New South Wales, the sleek Museum of Contemporary Art and the funky White Rabbit Gallery. Australian and international artists alike find a muse in Sydney’s multicultural environment, which blends many influences from around the world. Add these galleries to your travel itinerary to experience the city’s artistic side through a range of thought-provoking exhibits that are on display.
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Sitting atop The Domain, near The Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is home to a collection of Australian, Aboriginal, European, Asian and contemporary art, as well as the organization that oversees the Archibald Prize, a prestigious award given to the best portrait painting each year. The gallery is hosting “Sydney Moderns: Art for a New World,” an exhibition showcasing Australian artists and their take on the city’s urbanization from 1915 until the early 1940s (on display through October 7). Structured around five themes (color, light and color-music; modern life, modern city; still life as laboratory table; landscapes of modernity; and paths to Australian abstraction), the exhibit takes you through one of the continent’s most important and innovative periods, giving insight into the changing landscape and mindscape of Australians at the time.
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Inside this Art Deco-style building, you will find an ultra-modern survey of art from Australia and beyond. The contemporary museum The Rocks, located across from the Sydney Opera House, is not only home to extensive exhibition spaces, but also stunning visual works and a café and bar with spectacular views of the harbor. There’s also a floor dedicated to a permanent collection of more than 4,000 works in a large variety of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, kinetic art, light installations, conceptual art and performance pieces. For its major seasonal exhibit, the MCA welcomes Kenyan-born, New York-based artist Wangechi Mutu for her most comprehensive international show ever. The exhibit, on display through August 14, includes mesmerizing collages, drawings, sculptures, installations and video. Mutu’s work combines physical objects, such as red wine bottles, fur pelts and cassette tapes, with metaphysical elements of humor, eroticism and alienation to depict “where women are placed culturally and psychologically” in popular media, according to the artist.
Nestled into Sydney’s Chippendale neighborhood, the White Rabbit Gallery offers one of the largest, most impressive private collections of contemporary Chinese art produced after 2000. Along with this prestigious collection, White Rabbit invites guests to its Tea House for wine, beer or authentic Chinese teas, as well as handmade dumplings (served from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and sweet or savory snack plates (served all day). “Smash Palace” (on display through August 4) is one of the museum’s most talked-about exhibits. Through a collection of 3D printing, ceramics, mixed media and computer graphics, the exhibit reveals various artists’ reactions to the ever-changing environment in China in the wake of Mao Zedong’s quest to rebuild the country’s customs, culture, habits and ideas. This haunting display swings between playfulness and darkness as every artist interprets China’s anxieties in its triumphs, failures, rebirth and destruction.
Photos courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Limited, Brett Boardman Photography, Gladstone Gallery New York and Brussels, Wangechi Mutu, White Rabbit Gallery Sydney, Made ln Company