Cover image of the review
Nathan Beard, A Puzzlement, installation view, 2023, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art; photo: Kai Wasikowski. Commissioned by Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. Courtesy the artist and sweet pea, Perth.

A Puzzlement

23 Sep 2023
4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art 2 Sep - 15 Oct 2023

For those yet to pay A Puzzlement a visit, consider going in the evening. Against the quieter, dark tones of a warm Thursday night in Haymarket, Nathan Beard’s transformation of the first floor of Sydney’s 4A Centre for Contemporary Art glows: the dramatic effects of the show’s lighting design recall the austerity of a museum hang, and the walls pulse in a sumptuous red—British Paint’s “Indian Red,” to be exact. This detail is important, as we will come to realise.

In bringing The Puzzlement to Sydney after its first two iterations in London and Perth, Nathan Beard has greeted the city by staging an imaginary museum of artefacts of Thai provenance, reproduced from the collections of Powerhouse Museum, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, and the Chau Chak Wing Museum. 4A has kept this new body of work at street level, just a short walk from the Thai Town shopfronts along Campbell Street, while reserving the upper floor of the gallery for works made by Beard during a residency in London and shown at PICA last year. Encompassing sculpture, print, photography, and video, the exhibition presents a cross-section of the artist’s oeuvre, which straddles the bounds between art-making and archival research.

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