The Best Art Shows to See in Sydney This June

When it’s cold outside, galleries are the only place to be.

Out of all of the seasons, winter really does lend itself to looking at art. First of all, galleries are mostly indoors, which usually equates to shelter from bone-chilling winds. Secondly, exhibition openings are particularly toasty because of all the second-hand body heat and free booze. And thirdly, you can really lean into the art-hoe theme in the wardrobe department: pull on a nice coat, toss a scarf over your shoulder, don a beret—fuck it, I say. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. The one where you pretend that you’re traipsing around Paris or Berlin and not the backstreets of Woolloomooloo. But I digress. Here are the best exhibitions to see this June in Sydney.

Alex Knost Distorted Guitars, Kitty Callaghan & Luca Blasonato, China Heights

Alex Knost’s latest body of work, Distorted Guitars, is coming to China Heights. The artist, musician, and surfer has experimented in surfing’s subculture for over a decade through a diverse range of artistic mediums, challenging the relationship between texture and colour while breaking with the confines of specific art forms. In the adjacent gallery, don’t miss exhibitions by Kitty Callaghan who will present a new series of collages and Luca Blasonato with his vivid coloured canvases. Three killer shows all at one gallery, opening on Friday 18th June from 6 pm.

Thea Anamara Perkins, Shimmer, N. Smith Gallery

Having just opened its doors a few weeks ago, N.Smith Gallery is the newest art haunt in town. Formerly known as student-run space Kudos Gallery, director Nick Smith has taken over the Saint Sophia Hall building with a stable of some of the best emerging artists the city has to offer. The gallery’s debut solo presentation with Arrernte and Kalkadoon artist, Thea Anamara Perkins, Shimmer, sees a collection of landscape and portrait paintings explore the contemporary experience of being a First Nations person. With a title inspired by a public Arrernte women’s ceremony shared by very senior knowledge-holder MK Turner OAM, the exhibition is infused with joy, memory and spiritual power. Head along to the official opening on Saturday 12 June from 3 pm, or visit until Saturday 3rd July.

Skye Jamieson, I Dreamt About Being Here Three Months Later, Jerico Contemporary

Exploring the paths less wandered, Skye Jamieson’s I Dreamt About Being Here Three Months Later blurs the lines between where nature ends and the city begins. Through her slow and intuitive approach to pure abstract painting, Jamieson negotiates the nuances of her urban surroundings and emotional responses to it. Documenting her experiences of drifting through built-up areas, the Canberra-based artist maps out her journeys in sensitive gestural strokes. Whether it be the knotty roots of a tree breaking through the pavement or rainwater gushing across bitumen towards a storm drain, Jamieson draws our attention to the intimacy of solitary moments where nature’s bounty intercepts. The exhibition opens Thursday 10th June from 6-8 pm and continues until Saturday 3rd July at Jerico Contemporary.

Pierre Mukeba, Black Emotion, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery

Pierre Mukeba first stole hearts with his large-scale textile works, and he’s about to do it all again with his new series of drawings, Black Emotion. Marking his first exhibition with Sydney’s iconic Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Mukeba will share his raw and textured depictions of both personal and collective pain, this time with charcoal on paper. Guiding his audience through themes of brutality, violence, political and economic unrest as well as representations of Africans in contemporary culture, the artist’s poignant voice weaves stories of the African diaspora with poetic vibrancy. Existing in the space between dream and reality, myth and narrative, Mukeba’s works hum with energy, entering a dialogue at the edge of reality. Black Emotion opens on Thursday 17th June from 6-8 pm and continues through to Saturday 17th July.

Group Exhibition, The Other Portrait, UTS Gallery

This month, UTS Gallery and SCA Gallery are presenting a group exhibition curated by Julie Rrap and Cherine Fahd titled The Other Portrait. Bringing together a series of newly commissioned pairs of works by leading artists including Cigdem Aydemir, Simon Cooper, Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano, Sara Oscar, Patrick Pound, Ronnie van Hout, William Yang, as well as Julie and Cherine themselves, they’re intended to be viewed as mirrors or reflections across the two gallery sites, placing them in indirect conversation. Provoking a new analysis of the self and the other, The Other Portrait looks to the ways artists draw on their bodies, families, communities, cultures and experiences to emphasise the paradoxes of subjectivity. The show opens on Wednesday 16th June at 5 pm and continues to Friday 23rd July.

Hilma af Klint, The Secret Paintings, The Art Gallery of NSW

The first major survey in the Asia Pacific region of visionary Swedish artist Hilma af Klint is arriving at the Art Gallery of NSW this June. Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings brings a collection of more than 100 paintings—many of which were stored away and forgotten about for decades—that are monumental in scale, vibrant in colour, and experimental in their composition and form. Beginning her ambitious works in 1906, af Klint was influenced by the spiritualist practices of her time and believed that her paintings contained messages for humanity communicated to her through the visions she received from spirits. Esoteric and otherworldly, this is one not to be missed. Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings opens Saturday 12th June. And while you’re there, be sure to have a look at The Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes for 2021, too.

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