Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information, including hours

Conversations through the Asian collections

Dynamic pairings offer new perspectives on art of old and new

Left: Rodney Glick, Made Leno, Wayan Darmadi, Dewa Tirtayasa, Christopher Hill Everyone no 83 2009, Indonesia. Right: Lotus-clad Radha and Krishna c1700–10, India.

Drawn from the Art Gallery of NSW’s collection, this exhibition brings together Asian art of the past and present in a major refresh of the Asian galleries.

Conversations through the Asian collections is a unique chance to see contemporary works beside the historic works that inform and inspire them. It consists of a series of dynamic ‘conversations’ that allow visitors to look afresh at the historical collection.

Leading off those conversations are 24 renowned contemporary artists, among them Anish Kapoor, Suda Yoshihiro, Shahzia Sikander and Ah Xian. These artists see the past as a deep resource and constant spur to the imagination – their work attests to the live connection it has to the present.

Encompassing almost 300 objects, the exhibition features many icons of the Gallery’s collection as well as new acquisitions by Chinese-Australian artist Ah Xian, contemporary Japanese artist Yamaguchi Akira, and a 19th-century Japanese hand-scroll and traditional Japanese garments.

The exhibition runs for a year in both the upper and lower Asian galleries and will be refreshed with new ‘conversations’ throughout the year. It is the result of a collaborative effort among the Gallery’s international and Asian curators, including Justin Paton, head curator of international art; Cao Yin, curator of Chinese art; Khahn Trinh, curator of Japanese art; and Natalie Seiz and Matt Cox, assistant curators of Asian art.

Paton said that the show is about opening up new views of the collection: 'What does the past have to say to the present? What does the present have to say to the past? Far from being the last word on these matters, this exhibition opens the conversation – and invites viewers to join it’.

'Think of the contemporary artists in the show as guides and companions. Their works lead the way into the riches of the historical collection,’ said Paton.

Art Gallery of NSW director Michael Brand said, 'Conversations is a wonderful reflection of this Gallery’s character as an institution with a longstanding interest in historical Asian art. It also reflects the considerable strengths of our contemporary Asian collection which continues to grow. By bringing together Asian art of the past with that of the present, Conversations also reflects the place of Sydney as a vital multicultural centre in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region.’

The contemporary artists in the exhibition include Yang Yongliang, Gajin Fujita, Liu Jianhua, Yoshihiro Suda, Kevin Lincoln, Rodney Glick, Yamamoto Taro, Shahzia Sikander, Yamaguchi Akira, Nam June Paik, Miyajima Tatsuo, Tim Johnson, Savanhdary Vongpoothorn, Phaptawan Suwannakudt, Montien Boonma, Anish Kapoor, Pushpamala N and Claire Arni, Yamaguchi Ai, Khadim Ali and Liu Xiaoxian.

Among the historic works in the exhibition are historic jade objects, Edo period screens, a special loan collection of Japanese samurai swords and armour, Japanese kimono, Indian miniatures, ceramics by Rengetsu, southeast Asian textiles, an extraordinary array of Chinese porcelain from the Neolithic period through to the 19th century, and a rich array of Buddhist sculpture from China, ancient Gandhara, Japan, Tibet and Thailand.

On view
25 Oct 2014 – 13 Mar 2016
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney


Media contact

Lisa Catt
Tel 02 9225 1791
Mob 0431 509 978