SYDNEY’S MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART – saved by the location

Part of Judith Wright’s ‘A journey’. Vaguely disturbing.

It was our first visit to the newly-renovated Museum of Contemporary Art, and we were impressed. By and large.

I confess that we usually go to the MCA and other modern art institutions more in hope than in expectation. We feel we ought to take an interest in cutting-edge contemporary art, though more often than not we emerge baffled rather than entertained. ‘What did you think?’ we ask each other. ‘Oh, sort of interesting. Um, different.’ And that’s all we have to say about it. Perhaps that says more about us than about the art.

There are a couple of well-worn trends from visual artists these days, at least those blessed with a lot of time or big enough budgets. One is to take a recognisable object and make an oversized version of it. A three-storey high desklamp, say, or a paper clip the size of a football field. Such things will get noticed.

A variation on this is to take something relatively simple but make lots of it. Cover a large carpark with a million painted plastic drinking cups, for instance, and you’ve made a statement about the environment and throwaway society. And probably annoyed the local shopping centre too.

There are a few examples of this latter approach in the Biennale of Sydney at the MCA.

Thai artist Pinaree Sanpitak has folded dozens of winged paper boxes and suspended them from the ceiling, along with a number of glass balloons.

Pinaree Sanpitak’s Anything can break.

Anything can break – detail.

Chinese artist Liu Zouquan has taken hundreds of bottles and somehow (this is clever) painted them from the inside in patterns that suggest snakeskin.

Liu Zouquan’s painted bottles.

Liu Zouquan’s bottles

Whatever you may think of the art (and as you can gather much of it slightly underwhelmed us), the new work on the building has effectively opened it up and made the most of its wonderful position looking out on the ferries coming and going at Circular Quay.

Making the most of the front yard.

The view from the terrace cafe on the 4th floor is as good a photo opportunity of the Opera House as you will find anywhere.

MCA rooftop cafe…

…with the best free view of the Opera House there is.



Sydney Biennale finishes on September 16th. Entry to the MCA and its permanent collection is free.

There’s not much left of the original sandstone at the George Street entrance.

4 Comments

Filed under Art, Travel-Australia

4 responses to “SYDNEY’S MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART – saved by the location

  1. Interesting exhibition! Love the artworks

  2. kevinmayne

    Thanks for summing up my views on most modern art too – although I will forgive the Yorkshire Sculpture Park for its setting. Seems like the same effect here.

    • I must look out for the Sculpture Park next time I’m passing through Yorkshire (on the bike?). Thanks, Kevin. I am a big fan of sculpture parks in general and Sculpture by the Sea in Sydney is one of Australia’s great annual events.

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