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Art Gallery of NSW presents a stellar summer of Australian art

Written by Aksel Ritenis


Art Gallery of NSW presents a stellar summer of Australian art

Tuesday 23 June
Image of Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery of NSW presents a stellar summer of Australian art
This summer, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is proud to present a celebration of Australian art, beginning with the nation’s most popular art event, the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2020, and the most significant retrospective ever held of one of the country’s best known and celebrated artists, Arthur Streeton.

The announcement was made today by Gallery director Michael Brand, who was delighted to present the revised exhibition program, which showcases contemporary and historical Australian art and culminates with the major exhibition Streeton.

“After much anticipation from artists and audiences alike, we are very pleased to announce new dates for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2020 exhibition and to now invite entries from artists across Australia who have been waiting to hear when the exhibition will be held,” Brand said.

The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2020 exhibition will be held from 26 September 2020 to 10 January 2021. Previously scheduled to open last month, the exhibition was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The eligibility period for works and artists has also been extended due to the postponement, with works created between 3 April 2019 and 14 August 2020 now eligible for the Archibald and Wynne Prize, and works created between 3 April 2018 and 14 August 2020 now eligible for the Sulman Prize. Revised key dates can be found on our website.

The 2020 Sydney International Art Series major exhibition, Matisse: Life & Spirit, Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou, Paris and Matisse Alive have been postponed with further advice to follow. Brand said the restrictions on international travel made it impossible for the Gallery to host the exhibition this year, but that the Gallery was delighted to be staging the major Streeton exhibition over the summer.

“We’re extremely excited to delve into the life and work of one of our most influential Australian painters, Arthur Streeton, who defined a unique image of this country,” Brand said.

Opening on 7 November, Streeton is a comprehensive and revealing study of the iconic impressionist that has been in development for more than two years. It features more than 150 works from public and private collections, including some not exhibited for more than 100 years, and extensive original scholarship.

“Arthur Streeton’s brilliant evocations of light, land and sea are among the most enduring paintings for many Australians, in particular his sun-drenched impressionist landscapes from the 1880s, joyful depictions of Sydney Harbour in the 1890s, and pastoral paintings from the 1920s and 30s,” Brand said.

“Reaching further than any exhibition of the artist’s work to date, Streeton includes a selection of rarely seen works from the artist’s international career in Egypt, England, Italy and WWI France,” he said.

The Gallery’s exhibition program for the second half of 2020 begins with the newly opened Some Mysterious Process: 50 Years of Collecting International Art. The expansive exhibition weaves together multiple threads of history to tell the story of how the Gallery’s international contemporary collection has come together — through the alchemy of planning and serendipity, curation and philanthropy, and the evolution of societal expectations.

Next month, the Gallery presents A Promise: Khaled Sabsabi a solo exhibition of major works by Khaled Sabsabi, who migrated from Lebanon with his family in the 1970s to escape civil war. Since 2001, regular visits to his birthplace and surrounding countries have inspired a body of work exploring the entwinement of spiritual belief, politics and conflict. A Promise will bring together immersive works made over the last 20 years alongside intimate recent paintings. This exhibition is produced by the Gallery in partnership with the Campbelltown Arts Centre and the artist.

Drawings of extraordinary new worlds, created in great complexity and invention, take centre stage in October with Real Worlds: Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial 2020. The exhibition features works that use drawing as the central medium to evoke distinctive ways of seeing and making sense of the world by eight contemporary Australian artists from across the nation, including Martin Bell, Matt Coyle, Nathan Hawkes, Danie Mellor, Peter Mungkuri, Becc Ország, Jack Stahel and Helen Wright.

Also in October, Joy is a new exhibition of Indigenous art that celebrates the joy of making and sharing culture and life together. This exhibition features objects and short films by artists from across the Central Desert, including Judith Inkamala, Marlene Rubuntja and Sally Mulda, to name a few.

In November, Pat Larter: Get Arted presents the first solo exhibition in a public art museum of Australian artist Pat Larter, revealing a collaborative, provocative, humorous and ultimately joyful artistic practice spanning 30 years. This exhibition celebrates her extensive archive, which includes film, photographs, video of performance, mail art, collage and printmaking, and was gifted to the Gallery’s National Art Archive by Richard Larter in 1999.

The revised exhibition program follows the reopening of the Gallery on 1 June. Due to necessary changes to scheduling, the Gallery has put on hold the monographic exhibitions Brack and Margel Hinder, as well as Classicism and The Purple House.

In addition to Some Mysterious Process, visitors to the Gallery can now visit, also free of charge, the 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN and four other exhibitions, including Shadow Catchers, which investigates the way shadows, body doubles and mirrors haunt our understanding of photography and the moving image; Under the Stars, which presents stargazing and mapping from a range of viewpoints; and In One Drop of Water, which explores the poetic, symbolic and social significance of water in Asian art. All collection galleries are also open. Free timed-entry tickets to visit the Gallery can be booked online.

Now showing at the Brett Whiteley Studio is the free exhibition Brett Whiteley: Feathers and Flight, exploring Whiteley’s fascination with the beauty and character of birds throughout his life. In drawings, paintings and sculpture, Whiteley wanted to express his joy, humour and love through birds.

The Archibald Prize 2019 regional tour has resumed at Bank Art Museum Moree. It will then travel to Bathurst Regional Art Gallery and Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery. Display periods at the Moree and Bathurst venues have been extended by two weeks. The Archibald Prize 2020 regional tour will run from 22 January to 5 December 2021, travelling to Cairns and various venues in regional New South Wales.

Fieldwork surveys treasures from the Gallery’s collection depicting landscapes west of Sydney between the late 19th and the mid 20th centuries. The exhibition features seldom-seen paintings and works on paper by prominent artists including Hilda Rix Nicholas, Julian Ashton, Elioth Gruner, JJ Hilder, Sydney Long and Charles Meere. Fieldwork tours to Hawkesbury Regional Gallery in July. It will then travel to Maitland Regional Art Gallery and Penrith Regional Gallery.

Finalist works in the eighth annual Young Archie competition will be exhibited in conjunction with the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2020 exhibition, featuring portraits by budding artists aged 5 to 18, which were judged on merit and originality by the Gallery’s family programs manager and a guest judge, artist Marikit Santiago, before the Gallery’s temporary closure.

Ticket information for the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2020 exhibition will be made available to the public via the Gallery website from 1 August.

The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes and Young Archie competition is supported by presenting partner  ANZ.

The Gallery will continue to be guided by the NSW Government’s health guidelines and updates will be provided on the Gallery website.

View the full Art Gallery of NSW exhibition program



• Some Mysterious Process: 50 Years of Collecting International Art | 1 Jun – 13 Sep 2020
• 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN | Until 27 Sep 2020
• Shadow Catchers | Until 2021*
• In One Drop of Water | Until 2021*
• Under the Stars | Until 2021*
• A Promise: Khaled Sabsabi | 18 Jul 2020 – 2021*
• Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes 2020 | 26 Sep 2020 – 10 Jan 2021
• Real Worlds: Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial 2020 | 24 Oct 2020 – 7 Feb 2021
• Joy | 24 Oct 2020 – 2021*
• Streeton | 7 Nov 2020 – 14 Feb 2021
• Pat Larter: Get Arted | 14 Nov 2020 – 2021*

Visitors can also visit free exhibitions in the Australian galleriesEuropean galleries; and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gallery, known as the Yiribana Gallery.


• Brett Whiteley: Feathers and Flight | 4 Jun 2020 – 2021*


Archibald Prize 2019 tour
• Bank Art Museum Moree | 1 Jun – 26 Jul 2020
• Bathurst Regional Art Gallery | 14 Aug – 11 Oct 2020
• Coffs Harbour Regional Art Gallery | 22 Jan – 6 Mar 2021

• Hawkesbury Regional Gallery | 17 Jul – 20 Sep 2020
• Maitland Regional Art Gallery | 28 Nov 2020 – 7 Feb 2021
• Penrith Regional Gallery | 12 Mar – 9 May 2021

Archibald Prize 2020 tour
• Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre | 22 Jan – 7 Mar 2021
• Cairns Art Gallery | 19 Mar – 2 May 2021
• Griffith Regional Art Gallery | 14 May – 27 Jun 2021
• Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery | 9 Jul – 22 Aug 2021
• Shoalhaven Regional Gallery Nowra | 3 Sep – 17 Oct 2021
• Penrith Regional Gallery | 29 Oct – 5 Dec 2021

*Exhibition closing dates for these exhibitions are yet to be confirmed and will be announced soon.

About the author

Aksel Ritenis

Publisher and Custodian of the Sydney Times

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