Sydney art walk: White rabbits, harbor views and champagne

April 11, 2014

in Art, architecture, music, film & books,Australia,Sydney

Sydney James in front of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.


Sydney James and I at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Yes, that’s the Sydney Harbour Bridge just behind us– the view from the cafe terrace is amazing.


My friend James took me for a mini art tour in Sydney. We started at White Rabbit, a contemporary art gallery that he thought I would enjoy. He was right. This gallery is one of the best I’ve been to in a long time.

Founded by Kerr and Judith Nelson, the gallery focuses on contemporary Chinese art produced after 2000. The art is exciting. Thought provoking, really. And it gave James and I a lot to talk about. The show we saw is Reformation and it is still there. “The gallery explains that “China is home to a creative re-formation that is making waves around the world. It draws inspiration from classical calligraphy and the European masters, Taoism and the Internet, Shanghai street life and global business, kung fu and genetics.”


Sydney art MadeIn Company’s Play 201301 at White Rabbit.



White Rabbit While it looks like this man is getting an close-up view of the art, he is actually the art in Zhou Xiaohu’s You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know.


sydney There’s a wall of large paintings on the first floor of White Rabbit.


Sydney Also on the first floor of White Rabbit is a gift shop and tea room.


High on the list of installations that make you think is MadeIn Company’s Play 201301, a mixed media installation of leather, chains, spikes and torture devices done up as a series of gothic cathedrals and hanging from the ceiling. White Rabbit describes it is a “darkly humorous cliche-fest of leather, whips and chains that prompts questions about the lust for pleasure and where it may be taking us. Is erotic torture really analagous to religious exaltation?” I found it fascinating and disturbing in equal parts. Read what James has to say about it in his blog.

Given my art background, I was intrigued by Dong Yuan’s reconstructions of European master paintings. She does old master style oil paintings with a twist. So in her Repeated Illusions series, there’s a canvas painted with an empty vase in a dark, Dutch-masters style. Hanging above it on a clothes line from pegs are cut-out shapes of beautifully painted tulips.

And James and I were both fascinated by Zhou Xiaohu’s You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know, an installation piece of a two figures on either side of a wall, together with a video. Both men look astonishingly real–in fact, we both wondered why the one guy was standing so close to the video screen. There’s a lot more art, including installations, videos and scultpures, well worth checking out if you are in Sydney.

Our next stop was the Museum of Contemporary Art. And while we meant to look at the art, it had been so long since we had seen each other that we actually just had a glass of wine on the terrace overlooking Circular Quay and talked instead. The gallery has been renovated since I was last there and the space looks amazing, so I’ll have to check it out more next time. I did love the mural along the stairs as you enter from Circular Quay. It’s by Guan Wei and titled Coming to Australia.


MCA Sydney The entrance to the Museum of Contemporary Art has a beautiful mural by Guan Wei titled Coming to Australia.


Sydney The Wurrungwuri sculpture in the botanic gardens.


From there, we wandered through the botanic gardens to make our way to the Art Gallery of New South Wales for Art After Hours. While drinking champagne, we listened to a panel discussion with the student winners of ArtExpress 2014 and then saw the show. Many of the students had some rather profound things to say about their art and I was left impressed with the overall state of art in Sydney.

It was a whirlwind day, but oh so inspiring.


Sydney On the first floor of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, with the room set up for the art talk.


White Rabbit Bring on the reformation!

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