Club 4A
Who said you can’t have an art show at Dynasty Karaoke in Chinatown? 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art brings back its epic night of performance and audiovisual art with Berlin-based Chinese artist Rui Ho, whose electronica fuses club music with traditional Chinese sounds. Expect live electronic improvisations and performances against an immersive LED backdrop and animated video works.

Club 4A is on at Dynasty Karaoke from 7pm to 3am, Saturday May 25.

Kaldor Public Art Project 34: Asad Raza, Absorption
Note: Be sure to wear enclosed shoes on this visit to Carriageworks. New York artist Asad Raza has transformed the Clothing Store space into a performative agriculture site, complete with 300 tonnes of specially made soil and 10 cultivators. As you walk through the soil, keep your eyes peeled for micro-works by local Sydney artists. Thursday night sees a pop performance by Rainbow Chan, and on the final day of the exhibition you can even take some soil home.

Absorption is on at the Clothing Store, Carriageworks until May 19, 2019.

2019 Archibald Prize
It’s probably Australia’s most important portrait prize, with the winner taking $100,000 in prize money – and, of course, the kudos of standing out among the hundreds of artists who submit their work each year (in 2019, 919 portraits were entered).

The Archibald began in 1921 and is awarded annually to the best depiction by an Australian resident of a person of note from the worlds of art, letters, science and politics. This year, subjects immortalised include 28 artists (11 of them self-portraits), four actors, four media personalities and four performers from the worlds of music and dance.

The 98th winner – as well as the winners of the Wynne and Sulman Prizes – will be announced on Friday May 10 at noon, and the public can view the 51 finalists from May 11 until September 8 at the Art Gallery of NSW. The works will then travel around NSW until August 2020.

The Packing Room Prize, awarded by the team that unwraps and hangs the Archibald Prize, has been taken out by Tessa MacKay for her painting of actor David Wenham (Lord of the Rings, 300, Lion).

The 98th Archibald Prize is at the Art Gallery of NSW from May 11 until September 8.

The Vivid Light Walk stretches from The Rocks, around Circular Quay, images of Indigenous flora lighting up the Opera House sails, and into the Royal Botanic Garden, where you’ll encounter a mesmerizing Firefly Field. Wander through a forest with illuminated blades of grass reaching up to 4.5 metres tall or take part in a sound symphony that crescendos with a lightshow. The MCA’s facade will be lit up with a vibrant projection based on the ephemeral sawdust carpets made by Colombian-born Sydney artist Claudia Nicholson.

Take advantage of the Art Gallery of NSW’s Art After Hours and catch this year’s Archibald, Wynne, and Sulman prize winners alongside a line-up of Vivid talks, guided tours and live performances. Don’t miss the 20-minute mass death and grieving meditation, or the chance to take part in a ceremony for letting go of past loves.

Vivid 2019 is on in various locations across Sydney from May 24 to June 15. Art After Hours takes place on May 29 and June 5 and 12.

Commercial gallery shows
It’s been seven years since controversial photographer Bill Henson last exhibited new work in Sydney. He returns to Paddington’s Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery with more intimate portraits of models caught between puberty and adolescence. Don’t miss the Sydney Art Quartet perform a dreamy response to his exhibition live in the gallery across two nights (May 22 and 23).

At Artereal Gallery, contemporary painter Sam Holt has repurposed his old canvases and paintings to create an intentionally autobiographical show. If his last two are anything to go by, it’s sure to be a sell-out.

Sydney-based artist Madeleine Pfull, who dresses up in wigs and ages herself with make-up to get inspiration for her intriguing paintings of suburban housewives, has her first solo exhibition at Chalk Horse.

Bill Henson is on at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery from May 17 until June 8, 2019. Sam Holt’s Caught between snorkeling and drowning, we swam is on at Artereal Gallery until June 1, 2019. Madeleine Pfull is on at Chalk Horse until June 1, 2019.

Head On Photo Festival
A taxi driver waits outside a bar for her husband to finish drinking. An inflatable unicorn soars across a crystal blue sea. A giant 2.5 tonne trout stands frozen in a fenced enclosure. These are some of the scenes captured by the finalists of the Head On Photo Award, held as a part of the annual Head On Photo Festival. For its 10th anniversary edition, Australia’s leading international photography event will present its largest program to date, with 109 exhibitions spread across Sydney, and showcase the talent of 1064 Australian and international artists.

Head On Photo Festival is on throughout Sydney until May 19, 2019.