Take a journey through the arts and cultures of Asia, looking at time, place and the natural elements
’Elemental’ and ’Correspondence’
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Lower level 1
Displayed over two floors of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ historic South Building, our Asian Lantern galleries present works from our collection of Asian art, which stretches from Indonesia to Mongolia, from Japan to Iran. Both galleries feature vibrant exhibitions celebrating the richness and depth of a collection that began in 1879 and continues to develop.
The gallery on the ground level is housed within a white glass pavilion inspired by the floating lanterns found throughout Asia. Correspondence highlights transformative moments that inform and challenge our understanding of the world. Through historical and contemporary sculptures, paintings, textiles and installations, the exhibition explores the power of contact, contestation and exchange across geographical and cultural boundaries, including the potential for tension, unrest and revolution.
At the heart of the space is Jitish Kallat’s immersive sculptural installation Public Notice 2 2007, which presents the words of Mahatma Gandhi’s famous Salt March speech of 1930. Also featured are a gilded screen from the early 17th century showing the arrival of Portuguese sailors in Japan, Dadang Christanto’s haunting installation They give evidence 1996–97, powerful paintings by Zhang Xiaogang, and Arahmaiani Feisal’s joyous soft sculpture I love you 2009.
In the lower gallery, which includes a working Japanese tearoom, the exhibition Elemental investigates the natural elements of earth, water and fire, to which some traditions add wood, metal, void, and wind or air. The works on display illuminate our understanding of each of these elemental groupings, and the vital connections between them.
Highlights include Lu Yang’s The great adventure of material world – game film, which brings together sci-fi gaming with Hindu and Buddhist iconography; Nam June Paik’s 1991 sculpture Buddha game; and a magnificent 13th-century gilt bronze of the compassionate bodhisattva Padmapani from Nepal.
Artists and artworks
Explore some of the themes and works you’ll encounter in these galleries