8 Artists to See at Biennale of Sydney 2024
Advisory Perspective

8 Artists to See at Biennale of Sydney 2024

By Phoebe Bradford | Sydney, 28 February 2024 | Biennales

Organised by Artistic Directors Cosmin Costinaș and Inti Guerrero, the 24th Biennale of Sydney returns to Australia's east coast, featuring 96 artists and collectives from 50 countries.

Running from 9 March to 10 June, Ten Thousand Suns confronts Western apocalyptic depictions, focusing on themes celebrating First Nations, queer resilience, and the rejection of a bleak future for a joy-filled one.

Held at multiple locations, including the historic reopening of White Bay Power Station after more than a century, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, the event promises three months abuzz with creation and curation.

Ahead of the opening, Ocula Advisors share the artists they most look forward to seeing. From Malaysian sculptor Anne Samat and First Nations artist Dylan Mooney, to American filmmaker Andrew Thomas Huang and Iraqi painter Hayv Kahraman, a diverse range of talent awaits.


Anne Samat, Cannot Be Broken and Won't Live Unspoken (2022). Rattan sticks, kitchen and garden utensils, beads, ceramic, metal and plastic ornaments. Wall panel: 365.75 x 731.5 x 61 cm, floor: 609.5 x 609.5 cm.

Anne Samat, Cannot Be Broken and Won't Live Unspoken (2022). Rattan sticks, kitchen and garden utensils, beads, ceramic, metal and plastic ornaments. Wall panel: 365.75 x 731.5 x 61 cm, floor: 609.5 x 609.5 cm. Courtesy the artist and Marc Straus, New York. Photo: Anne Samat.

Anne Samat at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Malaysian artist Anne Samat debuts her latest commission, Cannot Be Broken and Won't Live Unspoken #2 (2024), an embellished totemic sculpture.

Samat's sculptural work is known to challenge traditional art narratives while fostering a more inclusive and cross-cultural perspective. Crafted from traditional weaving techniques and everyday objects, they intertwine Indigenous Southeast Asian motifs such as Pua Kumbu (a weaving and dying technique used by the Iban people in Sarawak, Malaysia) with contemporary influences such as incorporating mass produced consumer goods.

Spanning walls and spilling onto floors, Samat's large-scale, colourful creations initially resemble intricate tapestries woven from textiles. Closer inspection, however, reveals their surfaces are interrupted by household items such as forks, combs, and colanders.

These carefully selected objects resonate with the personal nature of the artist's sculptures, deeply influenced by her life and relationships with family and friends.


Andrew Thomas Huang, Flesh Nest (2017) (still). Digital video and animation. 9 min, 23 sec.

Andrew Thomas Huang, Flesh Nest (2017) (still). Digital video and animation. 9 min, 23 sec. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Andrew Thomas Huang.

Andrew Thomas Huang at White Bay Power Station

Known for his collaborations with musicians including Björk and FKA twigs, Andrew Thomas Huang imagines fantastical new worlds through film, virtual reality, and animation.

The American-Chinese artist brings his first-ever sculptural work to Sydney. Suspended in White Bay Power Station's Turbine Hall, Huang's sculpture features a tiger wearing a mask, a reference to Xiwangmu, the Queen Mother of the West in Chinese mythology.

Crowned with qingniao birds from Chinese mythology, poetry, and religion, the sculpture blurs gender and human/non-human distinctions, merging reality with imagination.

Given Huang's mesmerising portrayals of otherworldly realms in film, such as Flesh Nest (2017)—a sci-fi film illustrating a post-apocalyptic digital purgatory—seeing the artist's approach to sculpture will be intriguing.


Dylan Mooney, Still Thriving (2023). Digital illustration hand-painted with Yuwi ochre. 118.9 x 84.1 cm.

Dylan Mooney, Still Thriving (2023). Digital illustration hand-painted with Yuwi ochre. 118.9 x 84.1 cm. Courtesy the artist and N. Smith Gallery, Sydney.

Dylan Mooney at White Bay Power Station

Dylan Mooney, a Yuwi, Torres Strait, and South Sea Islander from Mackay, Queensland, is among the 14 First Nations artists invited to create new work for this year's Biennale.

Mooney's practice, encompassing painting, printmaking, digital illustration, and drawing, responds to contemporary concerns around identity, representation, and desire. His focus lies on the representation of queer relationships among people of colour.

If his upcoming commission mirrors his past works, look forward to seeing beautiful depictions of queer love inspired by community stories, along with dreamy portrayals of humans connecting with nature.

Mooney's distinctive comic-book style and vibrant palette radiates joy, contributing to a shift in how LGBTQIA+ and Indigenous communities are represented in contemporary culture.


Maru Yacco, Form of Happiness (1996). Photograph. 7.8 x 11.3 cm.

Maru Yacco, Form of Happiness (1996). Photograph. 7.8 x 11.3 cm. Courtesy the artist and Biennale of Sydney.

Maru Yacco at Art Gallery of New South Wales

Influential in the Japanese LGBTQIA+ scene, Maru Yacco is known for her multidisciplinary practice infused with Japanese pop and subculture. The Tokyo-based artist brings to life vividly coloured worlds using drag, cosplay, and performance.

Her creations, infused with the kawaii aesthetic, feature 'cute-ified' characters and narratives that ponder on queer identity, sexuality, and gender. Despite whimsical elements, her work maintains a depth that provocatively challenges societal norms.

Yacco's work is tied closely to the Biennale's theme on queer resilience and representation. Through her multimedia approach, she builds a universe that advocates for diversity and inclusion.


Hayv Kahraman, Snakes (2021). Oil on linen. 254 x 172.7 x 4.4 cm.

Hayv Kahraman, Snakes (2021). Oil on linen. 254 x 172.7 x 4.4 cm. Courtesy the artist and Pilar Corrias, London; Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; Vielmetter, Los Angeles; and The Third Line, Dubai. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen.

Hayv Kahraman at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Hayv Kahraman is set to take over the foyer wall of Museum of Contemporary Art Australia with a newly commissioned work.

The Iraqi-Swedish-American artist of Kurdish descent uses oil on linen to create unsettling paintings of women. Her work blends traditional Iraqi art forms with European and Asian motifs, drawing from her experience as a migrant.

For the Biennale, Kahraman pays homage to undocumented immigrants travelling to Australia via sea, prompting reflections on their hardships and vulnerability. Her new work draws connections between water, migration, and Ebru—the ancient Turkish art of marbling.

Kahraman's paintings are currently on view at Moody Center for the Arts in her inaugural solo exhibition in Texas, U.S., The Foreign in Us (12 January–11 May 2024).


Citra Sasmita, Timur Merah Project XI: Bedtime Story (2023–2024). Acrylic colour on Kamasan traditional canvas, antique carved wooden hanger. 150 x 800 cm (2 pieces).

Citra Sasmita, Timur Merah Project XI: Bedtime Story (2023–2024). Acrylic colour on Kamasan traditional canvas, antique carved wooden hanger. 150 x 800 cm (2 pieces). Courtesy the artist and Biennale of Sydney.

Citra Sasmita at Chau Chak Wing Museum, University of Sydney

Balinese artist Citra Sasmita's Kamasan-style paintings feature female characters inspired by Hinduism, Indonesian history, and her imagination.

These women manifest in different forms—emerging from branches, with flames erupting from their bellies, or giant snakes coiling around their waist. Sasmita places them at the core of her narrative, displacing men and introducing depictions of women engaged in stories of conflict, creation, and empowerment.

Samita extends her 'Timur Merah Project' (2019–ongoing) to the Biennale. Describing it as 'the embodiment of my resistance to Balinese cultural heritage that is heavily influenced by colonialism.'


Sana Shahmuradova Tanska, Apocalypse Survivors/Tethys Sea Inhabitants 2 (2023). Oil on canvas. 110 x 120 cm.

Sana Shahmuradova Tanska, Apocalypse Survivors/Tethys Sea Inhabitants 2 (2023). Oil on canvas. 110 x 120 cm. Courtesy the artist and Biennale of Sydney.

Sana Shahmuradova Tanska at Artspace

Ukrainian artist Sana Shahmuradova Tanska draws from her homeland's history and folklore to explore a collective landscape of memory, grief, and violence.

Her celestial paintings, full of vivid hues and dreamlike scenery, bear resemblance to the style of Marc Chagall.

Rendering oil and watercolour on canvas, she depicts ethereal figures and faces that appear to float through abstract landscapes made from organic shapes.

At the biennial, Shahmuradova Tanska presents a series of paintings and graphics, conceived in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, when she often had to take refuge in Cold War shelters covered in old atomic war posters.


Cristina Flores Pescorán, Catarsis [Catharsis] (2014–2016). Textile work made with red threads of different sizes crocheted. 500 x 300 x 5 cm.

Cristina Flores Pescorán, Catarsis [Catharsis] (2014–2016). Textile work made with red threads of different sizes crocheted. 500 x 300 x 5 cm. Courtesy the artist and Biennale of Sydney.

Cristina Flores Pescorán at White Bay Power Station

It's exciting to imagine Cristina Flores Pescorán's latest creation at the biennial, whose multidisciplinary practice offers moments to reflect on sickness, healing, and recovery.

Commissioned for the fair, the Peruvian artist's large-scale sculpture is crafted from Peruvian cotton thread dyed with maíz morado (purple corn), a food that supported her throughout her skin cancer treatments.

Drawing inspiration from her recovery, the work encourages a perspective that views a cure not merely as a treatment but a dialogue between the body, nature, and ancestry.

Imbued with the artist's many emotions and desires during treatment, the sculpture promises to wow.

Main image: Andrew Thomas Huang, Flesh Nest (still) (2017), Digital video and animation. 9 min 23 sec. Courtesy Andrew Thomas Huang. Photo: Andrew Thomas Huang.


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