Sydney Contemporary brings the best local and international art galleries to town. See our guide to six must-sees...
BY SOPHIE DAVIES
Get your art on at the third edition of Sydney Contemporary, an exciting showcase of 90 galleries representing more than 500 modern artists at Redfern's warehouse-chic Carriageworks. The four-day fair runs until this Sunday 10 September, including a mix of established and emerging talent (check out the Future section, for galleries going five years or less). Also up for grabs are installations, video, paper works, performance, a playfully interactive red room for children, and a programme of talks, tours and fringe events. There's tempting drinking and dining for refuelling, with tasty bites from Billy Kwong and Kitchen by Mike and pop-up bars by Glenfiddich and Petaluma.
Showcasing local galleries from Australia and New Zealand as well as global offerings spanning Singapore, Hong Kong, Berlin, Chile, Argentina, the USA and even Iran – look out for Tehran's Dastan's Basement (booth A03) with its hyper-detailed paintings – it's a huge gathering. So here our six of our favourites to get you inspired...
ABOVE: Robyn Stacey's mirrored camera obscura 'Double Take' installation, outside Sydney Contemporary art fair at Redfern's former railway yard Carriageworks
May Space: Catherine O'Donnell
Combining incredibly detailed drawings of windows and doors with a graphic mural of a house, Catherine O'Donnell's 'Urban Perspective' installation at Sydney gallery May Space (booth A14) is startling. O'Donnell grew up in an estate building in Sydney's western suburbs, which informs her work. "My drawings are an exploration of the architecture , culture, and history of the urban environment with a current focus on 1960/70 housing estates," she says, homes she feels are overlooked, both aesthetically and in human terms. "I employ realism as a catalyst to ignite the imagination of the viewer and invite them to look beyond the mundane and banal."
ABOVE: Catherine O'Donnell's charcoal on paper 'Urban Perspective' (2017) at the May Space booth, inset in a charcoal wall drawing
Sabbia Gallery: Honor Freeman and Pippin Drysdale
Sydney's Sabbia Gallery (booth G08) specialises in Australian contemporary studio ceramics and glass, bringing high-end craft to the fair's art and design table. We loved Adelaide talent Honor Freeman's dazzling ceramic work 'Soap Score' (2016), containing a circle of 656 slip-cast porcelain pieces resembling shards of soap, reflecting the amount of soap an average human supposedly uses in their lifetime. The textures, shapes and faded pastel colours are beautiful, reflecting Freeman's long preoccupation with being an 'alchemist of domestic clutter'. Established Freemantle artist Pippin Drysdale's boulder-like series of porcelain works are also striking, incised with gorgeous coloured glazes, so fine they almost resemble glass.
ABOVE FROM LEFT: Honor Freeman's slip-cast porcelain 'Soap Score'; detail of its 656 components; Pippin Drysdale's seven-component porcelain 'Geikie Gorge I – Devil's Marbles III' (2017) in foreground, both Sabbia Gallery
Martin Browne Contemporary: teamLab
Digital art gets the nod at Sydney gallery Martin Browne Contemporary (booth E10), which stars a large-scale, nine-channel digital work by Japan's teamLab. Entitled 'Continuous Life and Death at the Now of Eternity' (2017), it's a mesmerising nature-meets-tech spectacular of shifting colours, light and moods, with an algorithm creating an endless moving image of flowers being born, budding and blooming, then withering and dying. Rendered in real-time, not a pre-recorded loop, it takes its cue from the local sunrise and sunset, changing throughout the year, so it's never the same twice. "The picture at this moment can never be seen again," say its makers. Sneaky art hounds who charm their way into the fair's VIP lounge can see another stunning, six-channel teamLab digital creation – 'Four Seasons, a 1000 Years, Terraced Rice Fields – Tashibunosho' – in which computer-generated workers in rice fields respond to real-time weather, daylight and seasons in the Japanese region, ploughing in sunshine, sheltering from rain or dancing at night. While the original landscape has been largely unchanged for a century, the art work will be ever-changing, a new frontier for modern art. Look out for the collective's eight interactive Future Park installations at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum this summer.
ABOVE: Japanese collective teamLab's endless digital work 'Continuous Life and Death at the Now of Eternity' (2017) at Martin Browne Contemporary's stand
Yavuz Gallery Projects: Lucas Grogan
You'll find colour inspiration aplenty at the fair, but Melbourne-based muralist Lucas Grogan's installation for Singapore's Yavuz Gallery Projects (booth A07) has the blue mother lode. Taking up major wall space, his trio of graphic ink works 'The Library' and single piece 'The Collection' all depict shelves of fictitious blue books with cheeky titles on the spines, mingled with the odd horse-head ornament, urn or bowl. As Grogan quipped on his Instagram, "If you spot a typo, keep it to your f••king self." Known for detailed, witty street art in trademark indigo blue, teamed with turquoise, navy and white, he's a colourist to watch.
ABOVE: Detail from multi-panel 'The Library' (2017) by Lucas Grogan, ink, acrylic and enamel on marine ply at Yavuz Gallery
Arterial Gallery: Hayden Fowler
It's not often you see a performance art work involving a guy trapped in a cage with a dingo, but Hayden Fowler offers just that in 'Together again' for Arterial Gallery (booth G03), donning virtual reality goggles which trigger Australian landscape images, while a motion sensor worn by his companion Juno places the wild dog in the frame too. It's shades of Joseph Beuys' 1974 action with the coyote, but given a 21st-century new-tech spin, exploring the growing gap in our relationship with the natural world. Don't miss Fowler's second installation 'Australia' near the VIP Room, a colonial-style table loaded with white bones, linked to a tannoy, a challenging comment on Australia's painful treatment of its first people.
ABOVE: Hayden Fowler's plaster, polymer and sound 'Australia' (2017) installation for Arterial Gallery comments on the violence of colonialism
107, Blak Mirror
Small but packing a mixed-media punch, local Redfern gallery 107 (booth C06) shares bold contemporary work by Aboriginal artists in its group show 'The Gilded Age', presented with Blak Mirror. Riffing on the glossy veneer covering today's pressing political and indigenous issues, it includes work by Jason Wing, Amala Groom, and Adam Hill (aka Blak Douglas) – who created the suspended gilded bat above – with traditional wooden shields by Chico Monks, inscribed with cartoonish phrases ('Oops', 'Bang', 'Sorry!'), sitting alongside Nicole Monks' 'Wabarn-Wabarn' chair, made from kangaroo leather draped in plush kangaroo pelts.
Finally, look out for 'Edition', a curated selection of design-art furniture near the entrance area, showcasing pieces by top brands Gufram, Established & Sons, BD Barcelona Design, and the limited-edition 'QTZ' chair by local talent Alexander Lotersztain for Derlot, curated by Sydney furniture label Living Edge. Who said art and design can't mix?
ABOVE: 107 gallery's group stand, including an amazing golden bat by Blak Douglas, bones and other mixed materials, foregrounding Aboriginal perspectives
Sydney Contemporary is at Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Redfern, Sydney until Sunday 10 September 2017; opening hours 10am-6pm Saturday, until 5pm Sunday. For ticket and visitor information click here.