Art Gallery of NSW: Adrián Villar Rojas to take over WWII bunker at Sydney Modern unveiling | Museums

Four stories below ground, a 2,200 square meter World War II fuel bunker has been turned into a showpiece gallery for the Art Gallery of New South Wales after sitting idle for decades.

The art of acclaimed Argentine sculptor Adrián Villar Rojas will be the first to be installed in AGNSW’s new Tank Gallery, which will open free to the public in December as part of Sydney Modern’s major expansion.

Sydney Modern is AGNSW’s new contemporary art museum and adjoins the original gallery.

Although little is known about Villar Rojas’ project for the Tank gallery, titled End of Imagination, he is known for his collaborative, elaborate and immersive sculptural worlds, often designed to fall apart and thematically concerned with the end. of the world.

Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones described him as “one of the most incisive artists of his generation, a man committed to a topical ecological mission”.

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A 2,200 square meter World War II fuel bunker has been converted into a new art gallery. Photography: Jenni Carter

Villar Rojas worked on the project in Argentina and New York. He first visited the Sydney Fuel Bunker during construction work in 2018.

“This project in Australia is special,” the artist said in a statement, “not only because I was entrusted with such a unique space on Gadigal Country, but because it reminds me of many conversations with many caring and generous people for four years in remarkable places in your country.

The art gallery will commission a new artist each year to create a site-specific installation for the Tank Gallery. Commands are expected to play with the unusual acoustics of the space, where sounds echo for more than 20 seconds around 125 seven-meter-tall columns.

Taken together, NSW Tourism Minister Ben Franklin said the new Sydney Modern would see AGNSW become as iconic as the Guggenheim in New York, the Louvre in Paris or the Tate Modern in London.

“I sincerely believe that the Art Gallery of NSW joins the great pantheons of art museums around the world,” he said during a media preview on Wednesday.

Architectural rendering of Sydney Modern. Photography: AGNSW

The $344 million development was funded by the NSW government with over $100 million in contributions from private donors.

This means AGNSW will be spread over two buildings, nearly doubling the space available for exhibitions and its permanent collection – and will include a new Yiribana Gallery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at Sydney Modern.

In another first, Sydney Modern will open with gender parity across its collection and exhibitions.

Installation view of the Yiribana Gallery.
The Yiribana Gallery showcases Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Photography: Jenni Carter/AGNSW

The Tank commission joins an opening program that will feature works by over 900 artists from Australia and around the world, including major new site-specific commissions by artist Waradgerie Lorraine Connelly-Northey, by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, artist Kamilaroi Jonathan Jones and Maori artist Lisa Reihana.

It is expected that more than 15,000 people will come to see the Villar Rojas exhibition alone.

Sydney Modern is the most significant cultural development for the city since the construction of the Sydney Opera House.

Sections of the current AGNSW building have also been upgraded and a new public art garden is being constructed.

The new building will be open to the public on December 3.

Australian Associated Press traveled with the assistance of AGNSW.

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