Primavera 2023: Young Australian Artists opens at MCA Australia

Tiyan-Baker-Personal-computer-ramin-ntaangan-2022Curated by Talia Smith, Primavera 2023: Young Australian Artists has opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA Australia) considering the idea of the ‘collective body’ and the ways in which communities and growing movements attempt to question, challenge and manoeuvre through failing societal structures.

The six participating artists Tiyan Baker (NSW), Christopher Bassi (QLD), Moorina Bonini (VIC), Nikki Lam (VIC), Sarah Poulgrain (QLD) and Truc Truong (SA), investigate themes of protest, perseverance, and reimagining through their works of various media, including installation, video, painting, sculpture, and text.

Primavera is the MCA Australia’s annual exhibition showcasing the work of Australian artists aged 35 years and under. Now in its 32nd year, Primavera continues to be a significant platform for early-career Australian artists and curators to present exciting new work.

Since its inception, the exhibition series has presented the work of over 250 artists and over 30 curators and propelled the careers of many of Australia’s most significant artists.

Primavera 2023 is curated by Sydney-based artist and curator, Talia Smith. Currently Curator at Granville Centre Art Gallery in Sydney, Smith has worked across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, curating for Artspace Ideas Platform, Cement Fondu, the 2021 Ballarat Foto Biennale, and the 2022 Singapore International Photography Festival.

“The selected artists in Primavera 2023 are from different states and cities in Australia and their practices are materially and stylistically very different,” said Curator, Talia Smith.

“What brings them together is the way they reckon with the perils of history, education, culture, and language to question authoritative structures and systems. They assert that there is more than one way of living and offer impressions of how it might look.”

“I am interested in how we as artists and arts workers are trying to create a future that is inclusive and the ways that we are achieving this, by operating both in and outside the prescribed structures,” said Smith.

“The MCA’s annual Primavera exhibition is recognised as a unique and pivotal launch pad in an artist’s career,” said Suzanne Cotter, Director Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

“Each year is a privileged opportunity to see the energy and the commitment of a new generation of artists who will be defining how we see and understand art now and in the future. This year’s edition of Primavera is no exception,” said Cotter.

Primavera is the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia’s (MCA Australia) annual exhibition of young Australian artists aged 35 and under. Since 1992, the Primavera series has showcased the works of artists and curators in the early stages of their career.

Former Primavera artists including Mikala Dwyer, Shaun Gladwell, Danie Mellor, Agatha Gothe-Snape, Taloi Havini and Abdul Abdullah, have gone on to exhibit nationally and internationally.

Primavera was initiated in 1992 by Dr Edward Jackson AM, Mrs Cynthia Jackson AM and their family in memory of their daughter and sister Belinda, a talented jeweller who died at the age of 29.

Primavera 2023: Young Australian Artists
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, George Street, The Rocks (Sydney)
Exhibition continues to 4 February 2024
Free entry

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Tiyan Baker, Personal computer : ramin ntaangan, 2022, installation view, PLAYGROUND, The Lock-Up, Newcastle, NSW, 2022, computer parts, computer monitors, screensaver video, bamboo, timber, palm and coconut leaf, plastic twine, heirloom machete, food, image courtesy and © the artist – photo  by Ben Adams

Primavera 2023: Young Australian Artists:

Tiyan Baker
Born 1989, Garramilla/Darwin. Lives and works Mulubinba/Newcastle, NSW
Tiyan Baker is a Malaysian Bidayuh-Anglo Australian artist who works with installation, photography, video, and sculpture. Her practice draws on historical research, language, digital processes, and material play to trace unseen relationships between words, place, and stories. Centring and celebrating her indigenous heritage and culture in her works, Baker is also interested in things she has unknowingly inherited. Living far from native lands and amid the (re)colonisation of Borneo, she explores all that can shift, be mistranslated or lost, and what can manifest in its place. Using an artistic logic that is part salvaging and part speculation, Baker’s work engages in embodied storytelling and world-building to reclaim her vision of her indigenous heritage in the face of intergenerational shame and disadvantage, systematic destruction of culture, and geographical disconnect from family and kin.

Christopher Bassi
Yupungathi and Meriam peoples.
Born 1990, Meanjin/Brisbane. Lives and works Meanjin/Brisbane
Christopher Bassi is an artist of Meriam, Yupungathi and British descent. Working with archetypal models of representational painting, his work engages with the medium as sociological and historical text and as a means of addressing issues surrounding cultural identity, alternative genealogies, and colonial legacies in Australia and the South Pacific. Through critical re-imagining, Bassi’s paintings become a space for a type of speculative storytelling that considers questions of history and place and the entangling of personal and collective identities. Bassi is represented by Yavuz Gallery Sydney/Singapore.

Moorina Bonini
Yorta Yorta, Wurundjeri, and Wiradjuri Peoples.
Born 1996, Naarm/Melbourne. Lives and works Naarm/Melbourne
Moorina Bonini is a descendant of the Yorta Yorta Dhulunyagen family clan of Ulupna and the Yorta Yorta, Wurundjeri and Wiradjuri Briggs/McCrae family. An artist whose works are informed by her experiences as an Aboriginal and Italian woman, her practice attempts to disrupt and critique Eurocentric ideas of the Indigenous, especially within western institutions. Grounded in Indigenous knowledge systems, Bonini’s practice also seeks to unsettle the narratives placed on Aboriginal people as a result of colonisation.

Nikki Lam
Born 1988, Hong Kong. Lives and works Naarm/Melbourne
Nikki Lam is a Hong Kong-born artist, curator and producer based in Naarm/Melbourne. Working primarily with moving images, her work explores hybridity and memory through the contemplation of time, space and impermanence. Often dealing with the complexity of migratory expressions, Lam’s current research focuses on the concept of artistic agency during cultural, social and political transitions, particularly within the context of screen cultures.

Sarah Poulgrain
Born 1992, Thul Garrie Waja/Townsville. Lives and works Meanjin/Brisbane
Sarah Poulgrain’s practice draws on self-sustainability and artist-led pedagogy to expand what art institutions can do. Though they produce sculptures, their practice is primarily concerned with building and sustaining respectful and non-hierarchical relationships. Poulgrain’s methodology often takes the form of learning a new skill (usually through interest-specific community groups), documenting the process, and re-teaching the skill to others. Their practice aims to facilitate a model of knowledge sharing that disrupts power dynamics and prioritises vulnerability and trust. In their series of works, A set of new skills, Poulgrain taught weaving, welding, chair making, hat making, and aluminium casting, with accompanying exhibition outcomes.

Truc Truong
Born 1987, Tarndanya/Adelaide. Lives and works Tarndanya/Adelaide
Truc Truong is a visual artist based on Peramangk and Kaurna Country, Adelaide. Her art practice is primarily focused on assemblage and installation. She explores the interplay between deliberate and accidental encounters during the creative process, allowing works to be open-ended and constantly evolving. Truong draws influence from postcolonial theory, exploring the interconnected power structures between Vietnam, France, Christianity, and Buddhism. Treading a fine line between rage and humour, she creates convoluted spaces and memories that critique the power structures she attempts to evade.