The National 2019: New Australian Art is the second biennial exhibition in a six-year partnership between the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Carriageworks and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Profiling the diversity of Australian contemporary art practice, it offers up ambitious new and commissioned projects, created across the country and abroad by Australian artists of different generations and cultural backgrounds. In 2019, over 60 per cent of the exhibiting artists are women, and more than a third are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.
All the creatives were asked to respond to the times in which they live, and they have answered with observations that are provocative, political and poetic. ‘At Art Gallery of New South Wales, artists invoke impermanence and examine states of change. Whether they reflect upon the sensation of instability within personal or political contexts or through material and form, these artists treat precariousness as a poetic proposition, and play with the boundary between chaos and control,’ explains curator Isobel Parker Philip of AGNSW. She highlights the teetering tower of Rushdi Anwar’s torched domestic chairs, the fragility of Linda Marrinon’s portrait of heroic resilience or Sally M Nangala Mulda’s stark portrayals of daily life in Abbott’s Town Camp, Alice Springs. The commissioned Nicholas Folland installation, Flirt – piles of discarded crystal and glassware transformed into peaks and troughs based on a map of Lord Howe Island – is another standout.
A quick hop across the heart of town, Carriageworks maps memory and place. Troy-Anthony Baylis references Indigenous breastplates as he deconstructs Glomesh purses as ‘postcards’ from place to Country. Meanwhile, Cherine Fahd shares startling photos from her family archive and Tom Mùller uses sculptural flog to reflects on Carriageworks’ past as Eveleigh Railway Workshops. ‘Through a lens of “dark sunshine”, the works on display are bold statements of contemporary life, its states of instability and flux, and an insistence on past knowledge to sustain renewal and change,’ says curator Daniel Mudie Cunningham.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia presents works by Indigenous artists from the Pilbara and Kimberley regions of Western Australia, the Torres Strait, APY Lands in South Australia, Northern Queensland, and North-eastern Arnhem Land. Co-curator Clothilde Bullen highlighted a performance responding to each institution’s archival material by The Unbound Collective and paintings of pop culture by TDF favourite Kaylene Whiskey. ‘Many artists have drawn on their background in live music or experimental sound’ adds her co-curator Anna Davis, referring to Hannah Brontë’s collaboration with female hip-hop performers and Tina Havelock Stevens’ film of a drumming performance.
Performances and public programs continue throughout the duration of The National 2019 with artist talks, performances and workshops on offer alongside family and children’s activities and a wide variety of access programs. For more information visit The-national.com.au.
The National 2019: New Australian Art
March 29th to June 23rd (and AGNSW to July 21st)
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road
Sydney, New South Wales
245 Wilson Street
Eveleigh, New South Wales
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
140 George Street
The Rocks, New South Wales