Toni Ross

  • View of “Mitchel Cumming and Kenzee Patterson,” 2023. Floor: maker unknown, millstone, ca. 1812–30. Wall: Kenzee Patterson, Flexure A, 2022. Photo: Jessica Maurer.

    Mitchel Cumming and Kenzee Patterson

    The collaborative exhibition “A redistribution” by Mitchel Cumming and Kenzee Patterson combined the artists’ distinct practices with aplomb. Patterson often makes art out of unorthodox materials and processes, including obsolete or discarded products, while Cumming frequently engages with legacies of the readymade and institutional critique. Here, jointly and individually authored works came into dialogue with the show’s readymade centerpiece: a pair of millstones from the early years of settler colonization in Sydney.

    The artists borrowed these rusticated circular lumps of hand-carved basalt

  • Daniel Boyd, Untitled (PAITA), 2022, oil, acrylic, charcoal, pastel, and glue on linen, 53 × 79 1⁄8".

    Daniel Boyd

    The early figurative paintings of First Nation artist Daniel Boyd blatantly equated the British colonization of Australia with a piratical heist. “No Beard,” a series he produced between 2005 and 2007, pictured the empire’s notables as pirates in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (1881–82). Captain No Beard, 2005, for example, is a large oil painting copied from a 1782 portrait of Captain James Cook, the subject equipped with a black eye patch and parrot on his shoulder. Around 2009, however, Boyd developed a less didactic painting technique that has since become his signature. After

  • View of “Ronnie van Hout,” 2022. Foreground: Seer, 2022. Background: Seen 1, 2022. Wall: Seeing, Being, 2022. Photo: Simon Hewson.

    Ronnie van Hout

    A trademark of Ronnie van Hout’s art is his way of casting himself in multiple roles, whether in low-budget videos or as the face attached to sculptural figures ranging from pajama-clad adolescent boys to a giant anthropomorphic hand named Quasi, 2016—short for Quasimodo. When installed on the roof of City Gallery Wellington in 2019, Quasi provoked the BBC headline ‘NIGHTMARE’ HAND STATUE LOOMS OVER NEW ZEALAND CITY. Van Hout’s scenarios regularly incorporate his own image into representations of social outcasts from film and literature.

    The centerpiece of van Hout’s latest Sydney show, “Unwelcome

  • Kyra Mancktelow, Blak Skin – Blue Jacket, 2021, ink and gold leaf on paper, 47 1⁄4 × 31 1⁄2".

    Kyra Mancktelow

    Last year, Kyra Mancktelow won the prestigious Emerging Artist Award at the annual Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (NATSIAA). Still in her mid-twenties, the artist has developed ingenious ways of addressing traumas of colonial history and asserting her Indigenous heritage. Attracting particular attention are monumental ink prints on paper of life-size garments Mancktelow fashions from tarlatan fabric, a thin open-weave cotton stiffened with starch. The clothing is copied from historical records to create printed impressions that cipher the coercion of First

  • Yona Lee, Kit-set In-transit, 2020, stainless steel, objects. Installation view.

    Yona Lee

    Since 2016, South Korean–born, Auckland-based artist Yona Lee has become known for her installations with titles that include the phrase “In Transit.” They are constructed of polished stainless-steel tubing—cut and welded to form running lines, bends, and knots—that is screwed to walls, floors, and ceilings. The quotidian references of these mazelike environments range from public-transport transit maps and industrial plumbing to those ubiquitous handrails, bollards, and barriers that everywhere assist or impede our movement in public spaces. Just as ardently ordinary are the everyday consumer

  • Archie Moore, Family Tree, 2021, conté crayon and blackboard paint on MDF. Installation view. Photo: Zan Wimberley.

    Archie Moore

    The work of Archie Moore addresses the histories and politics of race. These themes are personal for the Brisbane-based artist, who was born in 1970—the son of an Aboriginal mother and a white father—and brought up in a small Queensland town where racism was a fact of life. The artist’s recent show, “The Colour Line: Archie Moore & W. E. B Du Bois” was made in response to curator José Da Silva’s invitation to make a work in dialogue with the handmade data visualizations produced in the late 1890s under the guidance of African American writer, activist, and sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois. These

  • Natalya Hughes, Woman I (Me from here), 2018–19, acrylic on polyester, 76 × 57 7/8".

    Natalya Hughes

    The title of Natalya Hughes’s latest exhibition, “The Landscape Is in the Woman,” borrowed Willem de Kooning’s words from 1953, the year when his first “Woman” paintings were exhibited. The recall of de Kooning’s fearsomely sexualized female bodies hacked out in Abstract Expressionist style might suggest yet another feminist critique of his portrayal of women as objectifying and aggressively misogynistic—a reproach that since the 1970s has become orthodoxy. While Hughes’s show was patently informed by such views, she describes her artistic conversation with this canonical modern painter in more

  • Gemma Smith, Margin, 2020, acrylic on board, 54 × 46".

    Gemma Smith

    In a recent interview, Sydney-based artist Gemma Smith was quizzed regarding the “trappings” of high modernist abstraction salient in her work. Hinting that the repertoire of twentieth-century abstraction may seem anachronistic these days, the interviewer asked, “Do you ever wonder if you were born in the wrong era?” Smith’s unequivocal response: “No, of course not . . . There are still so many possibilities, even for abstraction.” Over a twenty-year career the artist has backed up this claim, finding ample scope for variation within a compendium of nonrepresentational idioms ranging across

  • Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Blue Standing Figure, 2019, mixed media, 78 3⁄8 × 39 3⁄8 × 33 1⁄2".

    Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran

    In a relatively short time, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran’s faux-primitive, mostly ceramic sculptures incorporating painting, graffiti, and other media have made a big splash on the Australian art scene. His recent exhibition included seven mixed-media ceramic sculptures arranged on eye-catching, neon-yellow flooring and a single bronze set on a translucent pedestal on the gallery’s original floor. The pieces recapitulated the interbred cultural references of the artist’s previous work, which range from multisexed Hindu gods to internet porn, emoji faces, and the naive expressivity of art brut.

  • Helen Grace and Narelle Jubelin, The Housing Question, 2019, HD video, color, sound, 27 minutes 8 seconds.

    “The Housing Question”

    Housing justice is currently a hot topic in Australia and other developed economies, where great national wealth exists alongside growing homelessness, unaffordable rents, diminishing availability of social housing, and domestic property prices that far outstrip average incomes. The three-person show “The Housing Question,” curated by Julie Ewington, included a major collaborative work by the veteran Australian artists Sherre DeLys, Helen Grace, and Narelle Jubelin, along with individual works by each artist, all addressing the theme of housing from personal, historical, and social-justice

  • Karla Dickens, Never Forget (detail), 2019, mixed media (panels, clockwise, from top left: Bottom Feeders III, II, IV, and I, all 2018, acrylic and collage on board, each 23 5⁄8 × 18 7⁄8"). From “Just Not Australian.”

    “Just Not Australian”

    Co-organized by Artspace and Sydney Festival, “Just Not Australian” featured works by nineteen Australian artists and collectives of varied heritages. All were concerned with what it means to be cast as “un-Australian,” a politicized slander applied to any group, person, or act said to deviate from supposed norms of national identity. Over the years, opportunistic politicians and media commentators have mobilized the phrase to demonize targets varying from asylum seekers and striking workers to cricket cheats and the veils worn by Muslim women. For many of the artists in the show, contemporary


    Curated by Clothilde Bullen, Anna Davis, Daniel Mudie Cunningham, and Isobel Parker Philip

    In 2017, three of Sydney’s major art institutions collaborated to stage the first of three biennial editions of The National, thus beginning to repair an absence in the city of large-scale surveys of Australian contemporary art. The 2019 iteration will showcase new and commissioned works by emerging and established Australian artists based in homeland cities, nonurban regions, and remote Indigenous communities, but also abroad. Sixty-five artists’ works are to be presented in three distinct exhibitions