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Sep 16 2019

Roundup from Sydney Contemporary 2019

by Michael Young

General view of Sydney Contemporary 2019 at Sydney’s Carriageworks. Photo by Zan Wimberley. Courtesy Sydney Contemporary.

The fifth Sydney Contemporary Art Fair (September 12-15) opened at Carriageworks, its usual home, with 95 plus galleries exhibiting 450 artists from over 11 countries. Looking as stylish as ever, booths appeared more expansive and accessible.

John Gow of Auckland-based gallery Gow Langsford observed that collectors from all over Australia, not just Sydney, were in attendance. Starkwhite (Auckland) co-director John McCormack noted brisk business, with buyers drawn to the variety of Australian and international art at appealing price points. 

Although in 2017, fair founder Tim Etchells told ArtAsiaPacific that the decision to switch to an annual format was to attract “more galleries from around the world,” Sydney Contemporary remains decidedly domestic. Roslyn Oxley9 (Sydney) showed Australian artists Dale Frank, David Noonan, and Brook Andrew, with the latter’s Sector of the world encompassed by the brutal world of oneself (2019) priced at AUD 35,000 (USD 24,050). 

Moving-image art was thin on the ground. A highlight was Sydney-based Glaswegian Joan Ross’s debut virtual reality work, Did you ask the river? (2019). Ross laughed with delight as participants wearing headsets lurched and stumbled while exploring the artist’s vibrant but unsettling VR colonial landscape.

Justin Miller Art (Sydney), which operates in the secondary market, recently acquired 40 works on paper by the late modern master Sidney Nolan. Some of these pieces were among the works presented at the dealer’s booth, with price tags ranging from a modest AUD 3,500 (USD 2,400) to AUD 375,000 (USD 257,700).

Quality indigenous art was sparse but specialist Beverly Knight of Melbourne’s Alcaston Gallery brought works by Tiger Yaltangki, whose AUD 19,000 (USD 13,060) Malpa Wiru (Good Friends) (2019) flew off the wall. Three paintings by the late Sally Gabori also sold for AUD 16,000 (USD 11,000) each. Knight let slip that Gabori will have a retrospective at Paris’s Fondation Cartier in November 2020.

Here are some highlights from Sydney Contemporary 2019.   

Gow Langsford (Auckland) brought the AUD 575,000 (USD 395,150) Lily Pond at Humpty Doo (2004) by Australian painter JOHN OLSEN, whose works are popular as ever with Australian buyers. All photos by Michael Young for ArtAsiaPacific unless otherwise stated.
Gow Langsford (Auckland) brought the AUD 575,000 (USD 395,150) Lily Pond at Humpty Doo (2004) by Australian painter JOHN OLSEN, whose works are popular as ever with Australian buyers. All photos by Michael Young for ArtAsiaPacific unless otherwise stated.
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Michael Young is a contributing editor of ArtAsiaPacific.

To read more of ArtAsiaPacific’s articles, check out our Digital Library.

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