Sydney Contemporary

We spoke with Gallery Director, Paul Handley from Void_Melbourne to talk about their presentation for Sydney Contemporary 2023.


Mark Hislop, The Warp Speed Legacy (installation view), 2023


The gallery is located in central Melbourne, can you elaborate on its location and why you chose to open here?

The gallery is located within the heritage listed former Bank of New South Wales building located on the second floor at 190 Bourke Street, Melbourne. Searching for a centrally located CBD space to establish Void_Melbourne, I was inspired by my time in Europe whereas street level galleries are complemented by accessible but slightly unorthodox locations. Having confidence in the Melbourne arts community that location was no barrier in presenting a vibrant program of exhibitions from the gallery’s ever expanding artist stable.

What are some career highlights, or exhibition highlights in the gallery to date?

Having only been established since February 2022, every exhibition thus far has been a highlight in the gallerists’ eyes. Introducing new and under-represented artists to a wider community is our primary focus. From exhibiting younger artists including James Little, Travis John Ficarra & Josephine Mead to more established names including Elvis Richardson & Louise Paramor.


Stephan Balleux | Sam Leach (installation view), 2023


What was your first exhibition, and why?

Void_Melbourne’s inaugural exhibition ‘Vernissage’ was inspired by the desire to introduce thirteen diverse voices exploring experimental to formal presentations & materiality whilst pushing the boundaries of visual language. Vernissage presented works from Parisian artist Nathalie Borowski, Melbourne artists Jane O’Neill, Mark Hislop and Sydney based Jennifer Leahy to name a few.

Who are you bringing to Sydney Contemporary and why?

A large aspect of Void_Melbourne’s overall guiding principle is to facilitate interconnectivity between artists, collectors and institutions in a positive and constructive way. Furthering opportunities for our exhibiting artists outside of the gallery was something we put a great emphasis on. As a young gallery within Sydney Contemporary, Void_Melbourne is presenting a duo artist presentation by Sydney  based artists Nancy Constandelia & Todd Robinson. Both Nancy & Todd are artists in that we have a very strong belief in their practice and feel the added exposure to the market place will solidify their practice into the next level.

Nancy’s studio practice explores temporality and duration through the action of slow painting. Each  work documents time and space through the multi-layering of thinly brushed translucent veils of a  single hue, creating a pentimento.  For Robinson, his presentation continues the  investigation of ambiguous representations of materiality and integrates a biographical element, drawing on his historical practice as a fashion designer, referencing garment materials and details including sections of shirts, collars and shirt fronts.

We spoke with Gallery Director, Ryoichi Matsuo from Tezukayama Gallery to talk about their presentation for Sydney Contemporary 2023.

Satoru Tamura Installation : «  Point of Contact #7 » Satoru Tamura solo Exhibition view (2018)
Photo credit : Hyogo Mugyuda


The gallery is located in Osaka, can you elaborate on its location and why you chose to open here?

I was born and raised in Osaka, and it was my dream to run a gallery in my beloved Osaka. Now gallery is located in the centre of Osaka, in an attractive area where many young people gather, and many visitors come to see our space.


What are some career highlights, or exhibition highlights in the gallery to date?

Pre-Covid-19 as before 2019, in addition to organising exhibitions in our two-space gallery, we actively participated in Japanesel and international art fairs to introduce our represented artists and received a great response.


What was your first exhibition, and why?

A solo exhibition of Masaaki Suzuki in 2006, a young Japanese artist. We have been working together.


Photo 1: Mitsumasa Kadota Installation : « Super Prism » Mitsumasa Kadota solo Exhibition view (2022)
Photo credit : Hyogo Mugyuda 


 Who are you bringing to Sydney Contemporary and why?

Three artists are introduced here: Satoru Tamura, whose works have been introduced for many years and he had a solo exhibition at the National Museum of Art in Tokyo last year; Mitsumasa Kadota, who paints on canvas with powerful strokes; and Naosuke Wada, who expresses quiet depth through multiple layers of paint.


We spoke with Gallery Director, Andrew Varano from sweet pea to talk about their presentation for Sydney Contemporary 2023.

Jack Ball, Sticky Notes (installation view)
Photo by Jack Ball.


The gallery is located in Boorloo (Perth) can you elaborate on its location and why you chose to open here?

My family is from Rome, but I was born and have lived in Perth all my life. My family ran nightclubs nearby so in a way I grew up hanging around in this area. We have a habit here of thinking of the city as isolated, culturally deficient and lacking in comparison to the eastern states and overseas. I believe that this thinking is fundamentally lazy and perhaps even rooted in a colonial mentality. There are many spaces in the city I feel are overlooked.

The CBD has experienced a downturn in the retail property market that was accelerated by the Covid lockdowns. As a self-funded gallery, for me it was an opportunity to secure good lease terms in a space that was centrally located. Coming from a curatorial and an exhibition designer background, it was important to me that the space could be functional to work in, flexible enough to accommodate a wide variety of work and meet my standards in terms of presentation. Given that we want to make our space accessible, inviting and unintimidating to new audiences, I was also very conscious that the perception of the space had to be warm and open, I wanted people to feel comfortable and well hosted in the space.

I found some heritage shopfronts on Pier Street that with a bit of care could meet all these standards. They were empty and needed a bit of love and so I set to renovating and fitting out the space myself. I’m happy with where the space is now, but I’m quite ambitious, and so ideally, I would like to grow to accommodate another gallery space, an expanded stockroom that is open to the public and maybe even a small screening space in the next year or two.


What are some career highlights, or exhibition highlights in the gallery to date?

I was an artist before I worked in galleries. The most rewarding experience was being accepted into the Fondazione Antonio Ratti program in 2009, which in that year had the artist Walid Raad as the visiting professor, with some guest workshops also held by the writer Jalal Toufic. Despite being only a three-week program it was probably one of the most intellectually and creatively fulfilling experiences in my life.

As a curator a similarly fulfilling experience was when I was a part of the Australia Council emerging curators program at the Venice Biennale in the same year that Fiona Hall was exhibiting at the Australian Pavilion. Like the Ratti program it was a real opportunity to fully immerse myself and do a research deep dive. That year, 2015, was Okwui Enwezor’s year as curator, and to me – maybe because I was so close to it – it still remains my favourite biennale year for both the national pavilions and the curated exhibition.

I’m also quite proud of the group exhibition I put together called ‘Remedial Works’ which was held at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts where I worked as a curator. One thing I like to do is show early career artists (particularly local artists) alongside their interstate and international peers. This was the first time I worked with Jess Tan, who I now represent through the gallery, and I was able to show her work alongside fairly high-profile artists such as Anicka Yi and Pakui Hardware.

But of course, running sweet pea has probably been the biggest highlight and something that is still unravelling! I like being able to move quickly and to think broadly about what I’d like to achieve, which is something I get to do here. It’s a dream.

Nathan Beard, Low Yield Fruit (installation view)
Photo by Jack Ball.


What was your first exhibition, and why?

My first exhibition at sweet pea was an exhibition by Jack Ball, who I’m bringing to Sydney Contemporary alongside Nathan Beard. Jack is a very good friend of mine and when I was thinking about starting a commercial gallery, they were one of the first people I spoke to about it. I’ve always been fascinated by their work and their way of thinking. They have such a good eye and I often find myself lost and luxuriating in the colour, textures and worlds contained inside their works. When sweet pea opened in November 2021 Jack did concurrent solo exhibitions at sweet pea and the Art Gallery of Western Australia – companion shows in a way. While the AGWA show was largely (but not wholly) about trans intimacy, the sweet pea exhibition was about associative and oblique ways of thinking, informed from experiences with dyslexia. For Jack it was a huge achievement and the perfect exhibition with which to launch sweet pea!


Who are you bringing to Sydney Contemporary and why?

I’m bring Jack Ball and Nathan Beard to Sydney Contemporary. I’m excited to see how it works out as they have never shown together but I’ve always intuited a lot of overlaps in their work which I’m looking forward to thinking through and articulating.

Nathan is touring his PICA exhibition ‘A Puzzlement’ to 4A in Sydney and Jack Ball has a solo exhibition at Sydenham International, both during Sydney Contemporary, so this felt like the perfect opportunity to bring them together.

It is good timing for them both as they both have recently moved to the eastern states. Jack is living and working in Sydney, practicing, and also teaching at UNSW. Nathan has moved to Melbourne to undertake the two-year Gertrude Studio Program. They both have hugely promising careers ahead of them and I’m looking forward to bringing their work to new audiences, especially overseas, over the next few years.


We spoke with Gallery Director, James Kerr from Jennings Kerr to talk about their presentation for Sydney Contemporary 2023.

The gallery is located in Robertson, in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, can you elaborate on its location and why you chose to open here?

This is a small country town bordered by farmlands. We decided to open here, as the area has a great creative community with many talented artists living in the region as well as some very engaged collectors. The town has a lovely pace to it and the visitation is strong with travellers from all over Australia as well as people using the road to access the coast, Kangaroo Valley, and other neighbouring areas. We have been pleased with the location and it is a more enjoyable commute than previous posts.


What are some career highlights, or exhibition highlights in the gallery to date?

As a young gallery in its first two years of operation, we are very excited to take part in the fair for the first time and hopefully grow this part of our program. It has been a privilege to work with so many talented artists so far and we have been pleased to provide the platform to local artists while also bringing three shows from overseas to Robertson this year. We have had a series of work by Welsh painter Catrin Llywd, a solo show by Japanese painter Miho Ichise, as well as a solo show coming over from Harry Martin’s studio in London. I guess the career highlights would be having been able to work with so many wonderful artists and support their vision and ideas.

What was your first exhibition, and why? 

Our first exhibition happened in 2021 and was a little interrupted by Covid at the time. It was a group show of work with many friends works as well as some new work for the program. We were pleased to launch the gallery in this way and had excellent feedback on the show. It was a good bridging show, from my previous role and into our new gallery program. We look back fondly on how we launched and on what we have been able to program since.


Who are you bringing to Sydney Contemporary and why?

We are bringing a two-person presentation to Sydney Contemporary. We will exhibit a new series of large-scale colour field painting by Tanya Wales. These minimal poured acrylic paintings are serene spaces to get lost in their tonal depth. The expanses of colour are controlled in very sophisticated interlacing of layers, some more active than others but all very much expressed with elegance. The pieces are calming and soft in what can often be an environment that works can compete and cancel out. We have opted for slow, soft, quiet and still and Wales will be very much complimented by the formal ceramic practice of Julie Pennington. Pennington through a balance of classical vessel forms and expanded construction ideologies is able to create exquisite and detailed pieces that offer no place to conceal error. Through revealing building techniques, Pennington creates pieces that look to architecture in nature as well as sequencing and pattern. We are very excited to present both of the artists at the fair for the first time.

All exhibition views, photography by Ashley Mackevicius.

Portrait by Ashley Mackevicius

We spoke with Co-Founder and Directory, Adam Stone from LON Gallery to talk about their presentation for Sydney Contemporary 2023.

The gallery is located in Richmond, Victoria, can you elaborate on its location and why you chose to open here?

The gallery relocated to Richmond at the beginning of 2021, into a new gallery space with shop frontage, viewable 24/7 from street level. During Covid lockdowns it seemed particularly fitting to invest in a space where the local community could engage with the gallery’s program at any time.

I was also drawn to Richmond’s long and rich cultural history, having housed a number of the country’s most important galleries over the years including Pinacotheca, Charles Nodrum Gallery and Niagara Galleries (the latter two of which are still in operation). The suburb’s centrality and easy parking makes it a convenient destination for collectors, artists and the art going public. With a number of newer galleries opening and others relocating to the area, including the seminal emerging art incubator, Seventh ARI, it seems like an exciting new chapter for the area.


What are some career highlights, or exhibition highlights in the gallery to date?

It is always meaningful when you’re able to place an artist’s work in an institutional collection, particularly when it is for the first time. This special career milestone is something that I always value and will continue to be a highlight. It was extra special the first time it happened, as I was 25 and the gallery had only been open a year.

What was your first exhibition, and why?

The gallery’s inaugural exhibition was a group presentation of unsigned emerging and mid-career artists. The gallery opened under the guise of an artist led, non-profit project space – fast forward a number of years and LON now operates as a traditional dealer gallery representing a variety of artists at different stages of their careers.

The first exhibition aimed to convey the playful, spontaneous energy of the gallery and establish the programming as fluid, responsive and critically engaged. This ethos still pervades the gallery’s sensibility, which contextualises gallery artists within the wider discourse through curated group exhibitions and offsite projects.

Who are you bringing to Sydney Contemporary and why?

The gallery will present a two person exhibition of new work by Casey Jeffery and Ryan Hancock. This will be Casey’s first formal outing in Sydney and I believe her hyper realistic, stylised painting practice, which explores the capacity for objects to act as symbolic vessels for personal histories, as being pertinent to the Sydney Contemporary audience. Her take on figuration adds an interesting voice to genre which has shown sustained international market interest for some time. Ever since she was a student, Casey has had a passionate and dedicated collector base here in Melbourne and I’m excited to introduce her work to Sydney.

Ryan Hancock is based in Sydney/ Gadigal Land and exhibited regularly at Alaska Projects, the iconic Sydney art incubator located in a multi-story carpark, until their closure in 2019. Ryan’s playful and humorous ceramic practice speaks to the techniques and history of the medium, subverting the conventions and applications of materials. We hope the fair will be a wonderful opportunity to engage with Ryan’s local supporters and to share his work with the fair’s visitors from the wider Asia Pacific region.

We spoke with Gallery Director, Eloise Hastings from day01.

The gallery is located in Darlinghurst, can you elaborate on its location and why you chose to open here?

day01. is located at 189 Crown Street, Darlinghurst, a central location on the cusp of Surry Hills, in Sydney. Opening a space with a modest footprint was appealing, so as to be able to offer an intimate viewing experience to share a small body of compelling work.

Ian Moore, the award winning architect’s clever design elements transformed the tiny space to feel much larger. Our hidden pivot wall has not only become iconic, offering immense intrigue, but also creates opportunity for two extra full width x height sized viewing walls with unique sightline possibilities.

The architecturally bespoke 20sqm gallery enables optimal conditions for mini exhibitions, highly beneficial for enticing international artists to exhibit in Sydney for the first time and an inviting gallery for significant art collectors and curators to visit.

Recently recognised with an architectural award it was deemed that, “every decision has been made to carefully maximize functionality and efficiency whilst also maintaining the aesthetic power of space”.

What are some career highlights, or exhibition highlights in the gallery to date?

Every exhibition is a highlight, as they each evolve from considered collaboration and deep engagement with hand-picked artists. All highlights in my opinion, whether an emerging or a globally recognised artist, or an artist hidden from view but respected within their own Aboriginal arts community.

Bringing artists together in unlikely pairings or contexts is a very desirable part of the gallery program. Artists that would otherwise not cross paths. The recent show ‘Skipping Borders’, with celebrated Melbourne artist, Tomislav Nikolic and NYC based artist Justin Adian was particularly satisfying, we discovered a dynamic conversation and an opportunity to expose the work of each artist in a foreign market.

What was your first exhibition, and why?

The gallery opened in April 2022 with an intimate show titled, ‘Seizing the insignificance of the everyday’, featuring much adored Brisbane artist Robert MacPherson (1937–2021) and Matlok Griffiths from Melbourne. The show comprised a series of early 80’s personal favourite pieces and a significant pre-owned work alongside some recent work by Matlok.

A presentation of two intriguing Australian artists making highly relevant works that remind us all that one person’s discarded detritus or mundane everyday thinking can offer meaning and infinite conceptual possibilities for the act of painting, and a timely trigger (post-Covid mentality) to creative minds that you don’t have to look much further than what is at hand to start generating work.

For each exhibition I feel after thorough research it is important to make work that is often hard to see, such as Robert MacPherson’s, more accessible as they are certainly worthy of celebration.

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