The National 2021: New Australian Art is testament to the power of artists to lead in troubled times. The exhibition is not meant to be a response to the recent bushfires, social justice failures and the pandemic, but they’re not far from the surface. Many of the 43 artists seem to be feeling for a way forward and across all three Sydney venues, there are strong themes of care, kinship, community and responsibility.
The exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art leads with a body of work by Mulkun Wirrpanda, who recently passed away. Her bark paintings about the termite mounds around Yirrkala show the rich symbiotic relationships between termites, nesting birds and other animals. John Wolseley’s panoramic multimedia work on paper also takes up the same subject of termites and the interconnected nature of life.