Primavera 2019 to be curated by artist Mitch Cairns

Seven artists selected for the MCA’s premier showcase of young Australian talent.

Words: Charlotte Middleton

The Museum of Contemporary Art this year welcomes eminent artist Mitch Cairns as curator of its exhibition Primavera 2019: Young Australian Artists.

Running from 11 October 2019 to 9 February 2020, the annual exhibition is now in its 28th iteration and remains an essential platform for showcasing the work of the emerging generation of Australian artists.

Cairns has selected Mitchel Cumming (NSW/The Netherlands), Rosina Gunjarrwanga (NT), Lucina Lane (VIC), Aodhan Madden (VIC/France), Kenan Namunjdja (NT), Zoe Marni Robertson (NSW) and Coen Young (NSW) for his artist-led exhibition. Lane joins the line-up off the back of a current solo exhibition at Sarah Cottier Gallery in Sydney.

Hailing from across Australia, this selection of artists offers unique and diverse art-making practices spanning the disciplines of painting, drawing, sculpture, sound, video and text-based media.

Materially, the works form an eclectic collection, with Young’s proto-photographic chemical creations at one end of the spectrum, and use of Stringybark by Arnhem Land artists Gunjarrwanga and Namunjdja at the other. However, common to the artworks is an interest in exploring written and verbal communication, as well as interrogation of the traditional exhibition context and the theme of intergenerational relationships.

First and foremost a painter, Cairns is turning his hand to curation in a public institution for the first time in the forthcoming exhibition. A four-time finalist and 2017 winner of the Archibald Prize, the artist has enjoyed an illustrious career since graduating from the National Art School in 2006. Numerous solo and group exhibitions have earned Cairns national acclaim and a slew of awards, making him well positioned to recognise and nurture new talent.

“The artists participating in Primavera 2019 collectively embrace cultural connection, poetic registers and the vast spectrum of painting in their articulation of new language forms,” says Cairns. “I have primarily been guided by my work as a painter, as well as an artist with an interest in language and the written word.”

Curators are each year invited to select a group of artists under the age of 35 that they see as reflective of emerging artistic trends and styles. Counted amongst the exhibition’s noteworthy alumni are artists Mikala Dwyer, Shaun Gladwell, Danie Mellor, Agatha Gothe-Snape, Taloi Havini and Abdul Abdullah, all of whom have achieved national and international renown.

“Primavera is a special occasion on the MCA’s annual exhibition calendar as it acts as a springboard for many artists’ careers, introducing the work of younger artists to a wider audience,” says MCA director, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor. “Cairns has curated an exceptional group of talented young artists, including the work of two young Maningrida painters, which introduces the next generation of artists from this remote community.”

Primavera 2019: Young Australian Artists is on show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, from 11 October 2019 to 9 February 2020.

Mitch Cairns is represented by The Commercial, Sydney. Coen Young is represented by Fox Jensen McCrory in Auckland, and Kronenberg Mais Wright in Sydney.

Image: Zoe M. Robertson, Various Protest Banners, 2018. Ink, acrylic and lime wash mistints on discarded manchester, 600 x 900cm. Courtesy: the artist.


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