We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of New South Wales stands.

Jelena Telecki Mothers, Fathers

A light-coloured band drawn tight around a dark-coloured soft shape

Jelena Telecki Inheritance 2023 (detail) © Jelena Telecki, courtesy 1301SW, Melbourne, photo: Jessica Maurer

Enter a world where myth and memory converge

Jelena Telecki Mothers, Fathers

9 March – 2 June 2024

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Naala Badu, our north building

Lower level 2


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Jelena Telecki is a Sydney-based artist known for paintings and sculptures that address human relationships – including of power and dominance – and uniquely merge the real and the imagined. Often portraying partly concealed figures and fragmentary, dreamlike moments, her works are rich in intrigue, with flashes of levity and humour.

Mothers, Fathers is Telecki’s first solo presentation at a major Australian art museum and the first in the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ new Contemporary Projects series. It features a suite of paintings developed for the Art Gallery that examine history and its grasp on narratives both personal and collective. For Telecki, this is a history tethered to psychic states best described by the Serbian word nespokojstvo, meaning ‘foreboding uneasiness’.

This is intimated through ideas of family and chosen kin, with works depicting parents, progeny and Yugoslav Partisans. Their presence lingers in haunting yet playful scenes that obliquely recall the artist’s connection to her region of origin, the Balkans. Although bearing residual markers of a specific place and time, this series honours moments of sacrifice, vulnerability and intimacy that ultimately speak to  universally shared experiences. Telecki entwines the profound and absurd, past and present, legacy and omen in ways that reimagine reality as we know it.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales gratefully acknowledges the support of Contemporary Projects patrons Andrew and Cathy Cameron.

Art Gallery of New South Wales support partner