It’s one of our favourite times of the year! Sydney Contemporary has rolled out its program once again, and the team at Yakkazoo tagged along to the opening night at Carriageworks to check out the marvellous works in the festival’s 2018 edition. It’s a night of celebration and recognition, admiring established artists and encouraging those emerging. Galleries from across Australia travel far and wide to display some of their best work, and this year definitely didn’t disappoint.

Our Favourite Highlights:

Robert Jahnke

Professor Robert Jahnke has created an epic neon talking piece, presented incredibly by PAULNACHE gallery. His artwork is a visual reference to artistic concerns such as reflection, form, light and shadow. It also explores Maori creation narratives and cultural imagery through light and reflection. The pieces are free standing and are mounted on a wall, beautifully in line with the audiences’ direct sight. The chevron pattern found in the artwork is a strong reference to his cultural roots, a similar look to the ‘Kaokao’ patterns seen in Maori tribal houses. The cross shape in the centre of his work is also a motif inspired from the Maori signatures on the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. Upon viewing the pieces, the neon lines become hypnotic through their reflections, which allows you to transport yourself into a world of deep thinking and personal contemplation.

Abdul Abdullah

What looks to be a painted hanging canvas is actually an intricately embroidered artwork titled Call Me By My Name, brought to Sydney Contemporary by Yavuz Gallery in Singapore. Several tapestries hang in a circle in the audience’s line of sight, who are invited to walk around the installation to contemplate the different faces which are beautifully detailed. The unknown faces have strong eyes, with their view largely obstructed by a large smiling face. The artwork is a poignant reminder of the accusations directed towards today’s younger generations in comparison to generations past (which I can personally relate to). It’s a contemporary example of the use of emoji’s in today’s society, which often act as a facade in front of the real emotions young people face. The emoji is represented as both a shield and cover to protect the new members of society from generational failure, almost begging the audience for a feeling of civility and respect. It is a thought-provoking piece by Abdul Abdullah which the team has all agreed is a standout in Sydney Contemporary.

Dorothy Napangardi

Indigenous Australian artist Dorothy Napangardi passed away in 2013, however her legacy lives on through her incredible artworks. Born in the northern plains of the Tanami Desert, Dorothy Napangardi had little formal schooling, although learnt everything she knew through the Dreaming stories of her people. She had a strong relationship with the land and her travels, which is very evident in her artworks through the intersecting of dotted lines which represent her ancestral tracks. Dorothy created her iconic pieces by using intricate dots to form a compositional piece which captured her travels, the salt lakes and stories of her community. Only in her remaining years did Dorothy start experimenting with colour, using yellows, deep oranges and even violet blues (I think the blues are absolutely phenomenal). Since her passing, Dorothy’s art has become even more valued and cherished, as her stories continue to live vibrantly through her pieces.

Michael Craig-Martin

Born in Ireland, Michael Craig-Martin uses an inspiring array of colours, shapes and architecture to form an incredible composition of artworks. His piece, displayed by the fantastic team at -f-i-l-t-e-r- International Modern & Contemporary Art, is a set of 4 individual pairs created on silkscreen. With bright pop art colours, Michael Craig-Martin delicately displays modern architecture across his sets of frames. It’s slightly reminiscent of Bauhaus, with clean lines and vectors drawing you in to this visually appealing feast. The artwork was another favourite of the team, with Mark commenting on its adventurous colour palette and hyperreal feel. Michael has the incredible ability to fuse together minimalism with over-saturated hues. It’s a fun, bold and exciting adventure to look at, and it is clear to see why Michael Craig-Martin is an iconic powerhouse for creating modern pop art. I feel this piece as a whole would make a stunning impact if it were placed in an office or entrance way to a building. If only I had a wall big enough!

Lindy Lee

A team favourite here, Lindy Lee’s work displayed at Sydney Contemporary was nothing short of amazing. Presented by Sullivan+Strumpf gallery, Chinese-Australian Lindy Lee passionately displayed her work The Four Immeasurables deep within a dark crevice in Carriageworks. Her work often revolves around the ideas of Earth, the beginning of life, birth and renewal. With a stainless steel oval shape as her muse, Lindy Lee creates a mesmerising parallel of dotted lines and concentric circles which are reminiscent of a galaxy, and often have strong ties to her beliefs in Buddhism and Taoism. With the steel structure illuminated within from a golden hued LED, the dots act as medium for light to travel through, often reflecting intricate and mesmerising patterns onto surrounding surfaces and walls. Creating art is a way that Lindy reconnects to her Chinese roots to remind her of her culture and heritage.