In 2017, three of Sydney’s major galleries – Carriageworks, Art Gallery of NSW and the Museum of Contemporary Art – presented the first instalment of the The National, an ambitious look at contemporary art in Australia.
Far from a quick snapshot of the art world, The National is a six-year project encompassing three shows at three galleries every two years. It features more than 100 emerging, mid-career and established artists. Each iteration speaks to the present, charting a brief arc in the story of Australian contemporary art.
Daniel Mudie-Cunningham, senior curator at Carriageworks, has worked on his section of the show for two years. He travelled around the country to meet artists and find new voices to add to a list of already-established names.
“There are connections between what we’re doing,” Mudie-Cunningham says of the three galleries and their curators. “Often there’s a particular zeitgeist, or political themes that recur.”
There are 65 artists involved in The National 2019. Tara Marynowsky is one to seek out:
Tara Marynowsky: the interventionist
'At a glance: A Sydney-based artist who doesn’t start with a blank canvas but builds on existing images, interacting with and subverting the past. She has appeared in exhibitions here and overseas.
What she’s known for: Her watercolour and gouache “interventions” on vintage postcards, which merge colour and surrealism with sepia-tinted images of young women. Her 2018 exhibition at Brisbane’s Edwina Corlette Gallery, Balancing Actress, featured vintage images of nude dancing “girls” with their faces obscured, bathed in pastel textures.
For The National: Her work starts with a more recent jumping-off point, and an angrier, more overtly political tone. For her piece, Coming Attractions, Marynowsky found 35-millimetre reels of ’90s Hollywood film trailers, including Pretty Woman, Shakespeare in Love, Species and Indecent Proposal, and took to the negatives with a knife, scratching each frame. It’s a labour-intensive and imprecise process. When the film is scanned and played back the result is a series of frenzied animations. Julia Roberts’s face is removed, making her almost monstrous. Gwyneth Paltrow is given a Medusa-like head of snakes. The dodgy gender politics of each film is subverted by force.' BROADSHEET March 2019