Explore the diversity, emotions and experiences of Australians in a contemporary, multi-gallery showcase between March and July 2023.

Embark on a cultural adventure and broaden your perspective. The fourth edition of Australia’s biggest biennial survey of contemporary art, The National 4: Australian Art Now, is a collective exhibition that takes over four of Sydney’s most important art institutions. From March to July 2023, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Carriageworks and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia join together in showcasing new commissions and recent works by a diverse group of more than 80 artists from across Country, generations and  communities. The National 4 reflects the experiences of contemporary Australians and our place in the world – essentially answering the question, “Who are we now?”

Feel the beat of a nation at The Museum of Contemporary Art

Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association

At the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Jane Devery, senior curator, exhibitions, has assembled a thought-provoking program for The National 4, including a must-see from the Tiwi Islands. YOYI, a collaborative artist-led video work by Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association, is an immersive video installation that “alternates across four walls of the gallery, depicting 30 artists, each performing a ceremonial yoyi (dance) on Country,” adds Devery. She calls it “a celebration of Tiwi culture, a significant act of recording ceremonial dance for future generations both within the community and beyond the Tiwi Islands”.

A change of pace comes with another of Devery’s highlights: a video work by Allison Chhorn that meditates on the daily routines of her Cambodian-Australian family as they tend to their vegetable crops. “Her installation is one of a number that address intergenerational trauma and cultural displacement,” says Devery.

Embrace the family spirit of Greater Sydney with Campbelltown Arts Centre

Campbelltown Arts Centre

Emotions are front and centre at Campbelltown Arts Centre (C-A-C). Serving the south-western Sydney community, the Arts Centre brings together a number of emotionally charged works and installations for The National 4, curated by Emily Rolfe. The exhibition features pieces from Shivanjani Lal, Julian Martin, Jumaadi, Yabini Kickett with Sharyn Egan and Ilona McGuire, Lynda Draper and Brook Andrew.

Just one of many must-sees comes from Christopher Bassi, a Meriam and Yupungathi artist whose work leans into both his European and Torres Strait heritage to create pieces inspired by the likes of Goya and John Singer Sargent. Bassi’s showcase Island Revelation (2023) depicts his personal relationship to the Torres Strait landscape.

You’ll also find an installation from Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan with the Fruitjuice Factori Studio. Now based in Brisbane, the Filipino-born duo are working with their five children on an installation that explores family interactions, ideas of a “dream home” and the humble cardboard box as a symbol of movement and migration for many Filipinos.

Visit The National website to learn more www.the-national.com.au

Get charged up at the Art Gallery of NSW

The National 4 exhibition

Stirring family portraits and rousing politically charged films are among the works assembled by Beatrice Gralton, the senior curator of the Brett Whiteley Studio at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW). Here, The National 4 exhibition sees pieces from celebrated Australian artists including Brenda L Croft, Abdul Abdullah, Robert Fielding, Madeleine Kelly and a host of others in a mix of commissioned and newly completed art.

Highlights of this impressive roll-call include the 2023 La Prairie Art Award Winner, Arrernte and Kalkadoon artist Thea Anamara Perkins. At the AGNSW, Perkins will showcase a range of new and recent portraits and self-portraits inspired by family photographs. Indigenous artist Reko Rennie’s latest video work, What Do We Want? (2022), opens with the title in bold red text, a nod to Rennie’s connection to graffiti art and culture, and features a cast of First Nations people whose voices come together in solidarity as they shout for “restitutions” and “land back”. Here, Rennie weaves together the political and the personal in a powerful form of Indigenous expression.

Come stargazing with celestial artwork at Carriageworks

Milŋiyawuy – Celestial River (2023)

Weaving together starscapes, songs, dance and traditional fibre sculptures, The National 4 at Carriageworks – curated by Freja Carmichael and Aarna Fitzgerald Hanley – offers a multidisciplinary display of contemporary art. A selection of artists include Susan Balbunga, Elizabeth Day, Jo Lloyd, Jason Phu, Teho Ropeyarn, Erika Scott and more.

A highlight is Milŋiyawuy – Celestial River (2023) from Indigenous artist Naminapu Maymuru-White based in Yirrkala, Northern Territory. This captivating piece paints the Milky Way or River of Stars, formed through a constellation of small barks. In black and white ochre the artist maps a galaxy in a meandering line across the gallery wall. The work speaks to how we are all connected through the starry night.

Visit The National website to learn more www.the-national.com.au

Image credits: Elizabeth Day at the Clothing Store Artist Studios, Carriageworks, 2022. Photograph: Jacquie Manning; Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association Artists, YOYI (dance) (still), 2020, 4-channel video, HD, colour, sound, image courtesy and © the artists;  Isabel & Alfredo Aquilizan, ‘Project Another Country: That Space in Between’, 2022. Installation view, MUSAC Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y Leon, Spain; Gerry Wedd, Songs From A Room, 2018, glazed ceramic, detail from installation at ACE Open Adelaide. Image Andrew Cowen, courtesy of the artist; Naminapu Maymuru-White painting Milŋiyawuy—River of Stars, 2021, earth pigments on board. Image courtesy the artist: Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre and Sullivan + Strumpf © the artist. Photograph: Dave Wickens.

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