Art Gallery of NSW unveils opening program for transformation and expansion


Sydney, Australia: Epic sculptures by international artist Adrian Villar Rojas set in a vast former WWII underground fuel tank, a large-scale narrbong-galang (many bags) by Waradgerie artist Lorraine Connelly- Northey and an exuberant floral sculpture by Yayoi Kusama are among the highlights of the opening program for the expanded Art Gallery of New South Wales.

The art gallery today unveiled its new exhibitions, collections and first Tank commission as part of the Sydney Modern Project. The opening programme, featuring works by more than 900 Australian and international artists, will be free to visitors when the transformed art museum opens on December 3.

On Gadigal Country, overlooking Sydney Harbour, the expanded art museum comprises the new SANAA-designed building and the existing late 19th-century building, linked by an art garden.

Art Gallery Chairman David Gonski AC said: “Given the scale of our ambitions for the biggest cultural project in Sydney for half a century, I am very proud that We were delivering it on time and on budget with generous funding from the NSW Government and our long-standing donor community.

The ambitious project celebrates several firsts for the Art Gallery. The expansion creates a premier new destination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, and the new building opens with gender parity in the collection and temporary exhibitions. The art gallery is also setting new benchmarks for sustainability as Australia’s first public art museum to be awarded a 6-star Green Star design rating by the Green Building Council of Australia.

Featuring the world as seen from Sydney, the opening program contributes to important global conversations. Visitors will encounter works across campus that engage, inspire, provoke and delight.

Recent acquisitions and commissions from artists exhibiting for the first time include Khadim Ali, Karla Dickens, Jeffrey Gibson, Samara Golden, Barkley L Hendricks, Kimsooja, Simone Leigh, Sanné Mestrom, Elizabeth Pulie, Shireen Taweel, Howie Tsui and Justene Williams.

Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Dr Michael Brand, said: ‘My vision for the modern Sydney project has been to transform the art gallery into an art museum campus with transparent links between art, architecture and landscape; a generous and intelligent art museum that believes that the art of the past is crucial to understanding the art of our time.

“The new building, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects SANAA, nearly doubles our exhibition space and, with a more porous connection between indoors and outdoors, offers new types of spaces for new thinking. and new art forms.

“It is through a series of creative transformations – such as the centrality of Australian Indigenous voices, SANAA’s elegantly understated yet technically complex design, site-specific commissions from some of the leading artists of our time, and new cultural juxtapositions in the display of art in both buildings – this will better connect the voices of artists past and present with our audience.

Inaugural Tank Commission

Arts and Tourism Minister Ben Franklin today announced that Argentine-Peruvian artist Adrian Villar Rojas will be the inaugural artist in charge of the underground gallery known as Tank, located at the lowest level of the new building.

The end of the imagination of Villar Rojas will occupy the former oil tank of 2,200 square meters, which has become a spectacular exhibition space. The installation is the culmination of a four-year engagement with the art gallery of Villar Rojas, known for its site-specific collaborative sculptures, including on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2017.

“The completion of the Art Gallery of New South Wales expansion not only offers more art for more people, but also unveils a hidden treasure – an old WWII naval fuel tank world masterfully repurposed into a world-class exhibition space, where visitors will be able to view this first Commission Tank, The End of Imagination,’ Franklin said.

‘Adrian is internationally recognized for his expansive site-specific installations that provide immersive artistic experiences. On behalf of the NSW Government, it is with great pleasure that I welcome you to discover its work from December 3rd. The world’s major cities encourage experimentation and adventure in art and The End of Imagination is a new exhibition staged in an exciting new space for Sydney, brought to you by Sydney’s major events and tourism agency. State, Destination NSW, in collaboration with the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

“I look forward to the expanded art gallery attracting visitors from across the state, the country and around the world as we open this must-visit destination for art in the nation’s cultural capital.”

Michael Brand added: “It is a rare experience for a museum director to open an art space as architecturally distinctive and historically evocative as the Tank. I am delighted that we are presenting the work of Adrian Villar Rojas as the inaugural commission for this unique artistic experience in Sydney.

Villar Rojas, who visited the art gallery for the first time in 2018, said: “The project that has developed over the next four years is the product of many hands, many minds, many conversations, many questions and many mediums, including virtual and physical. And one of the most important mediums has been time – time to dwell in a space, to talk with everyone from archivists to Indigenous curators to conservators, to push ideas and technologies, and to to integrate into the project the conditions of a world that has changed massively.

‘Although I have been fortunate enough to work in many unique cities and sites and remarkable museums, from the roof of the Met in New York to an island off the coast of Istanbul, this project in Australia is special, not only because I ‘ai I have been entrusted with such a unique space on Gadigal Country, but because it reminds me of many conversations with many caring and generous people over the course of four years in remarkable places in your country. My team and I hope it’s obvious from the incredible amount of love and work that has gone into the project that you will eventually see, how honored we are to be welcomed here into this exceptional new art space for our first project in Australia.

Site specific commissions

Nine bold and compelling new commissions that will be displayed inside and outside the new building include Francis Upritchard’s Here Comes Everybody, a trio of playful pairs of bronze beings that will greet visitors in the Welcome Plaza; the bial gwiyurjo (the fire is not yet lit) by Jonathan Jones, a living work at the heart of the enlarged art gallery; GROUNDLOOP, the moving image work of Lisa Reihana (Ngapuhi, Ngati Hine, Ngai Tu), overlooking the central atrium; the multi-panel painting by Richard Lewer Onsite, Construction of Sydney I7Iodern who resides on the lands of the Gadigals of the Eora Nation, which records some of the people involved in the construction of the new building; and Yayoi Kusama flowers blooming in the cosmos, which will be placed prominently on the stepped terrace overlooking Woolloomooloo Bay.

“The works resonate and connect with the strong and ongoing Indigenous history of this place,” said Associate Director and Director of Collections Maud Page. “They amuse, confront, challenge and delight in a variety of ways, drawing on a myriad of narratives, from science fiction to particular stories from this part of the world. Many of them favor the knowledge of the First Nations. Asian voices also feature prominently, as do, of course, Australian perspectives.

“Each order was chosen to respond to our collection, to the lyrical architecture of SANAA or simply to document the construction site. Many commissions deal with pressing social issues: migration, displacement, the value of labor and climate change. They are aesthetically as varied as they are rigorous and powerfully announce new histories of art to be written from here.

Openings of exhibitions and presentations of collections

As visitors enter the new building, they will be greeted by the inaugural exhibition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in the new Yiribana Gallery. The exhibition is inspired by the ideas of generosity and caring and emphasizes the connections between people.

Other exhibits in the new building include:

  • Dreamhome: Stories of Art and Shelter – artists reflect on ‘home’ from their own richly local perspective, while recording shared hopes and anxieties that are felt in many places right now
  • flaking Worlds – presents ideas of mapping, time, creation and connection centered on Kimsooja’s monumental participatory artwork Archive of mind in the large columnless gallery
  • Outlaws – celebrates the anti-heroes of popular culture in the art gallery’s first gallery dedicated to new media

The much-loved existing building has been revitalized with beautifully renovated spaces restoring architectural features and a completely relocated collection in all galleries. Visitors can travel through time, ideas, human stories and contested histories, including:

  • From Here, for Now – a new exhibition that features works in 10 curated rooms that begin with outback Australia as a signifier of national identity, connecting it to American stereotypes of foreigners and hidden histories, through works by Charlene Carrington, Rosemary Laing, Robert MacPherson, Richard Prince and Kaylene Whisky. The exhibition also features a new commission, Simryn Gill’s major new work, Clearing, responding to elements of the natural history of the site of the new building.
  • 20th Century Galleries – showcasing works from the art gallery’s Australian and international collections which highlight the connections and distinctions between local artists and wider global developments during some of the most tumultuous, exciting and innovations in the history of art and humanity. This new exhibition includes the revival of Ken Unsworth’s Hanging Stone Circle

//, with 103 river stones each weighing around 15kg suspended by 309 threads, now suspended on two levels for the first time in the newly unveiled atrium.

  • Asian Lantern – with the Correspondence exhibitions, where visitors will find works of art marking important moments in Asian art and history, and Elemental, which studies the natural elements of earth, water and earth. fire.
  • Grand Courts – with a focus on the art gallery’s historic collections, brought to life by contemporary voices that encourage moments of pause and reflection.
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