In frames of Vivid Sydney, the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas, starting from May 25 the Sydney Opera House will be illuminated by 3D light sculpture housed within the iconic Sails of architector Utzon’s masterpiece. Award-winning Australian artist Jonathan Zawada has created Metamathemagical – a specially commissioned, site-specific artwork that will transform the World Heritage-listed masterpiece into a digital light sculpture inspired by Australian motifs across science, nature and culture.

Jonathan Zawada, Australian-born LA-based artist, is a talented graphic designer and creative director who works across the music, publishing, fashion and corporate industries. Jonathan is best known for his varied approach to the discipline of design – his personal ventures running in parallel to Jonathan’s career as a graphic designer, are his works as a practicing visual artist. Working with oil painting, drawing, sculpture and installation, he also participates in regular exhibitions across galleries around the world.

Zawada is a cross-discipline artist best known for his unique approach to art and design. Weaving both analogue and digital techniques, he displays the back and forth interplay between manual physical labour and disembodied digital processes.

For today the artist collaborated with top music acts such as Flume, The Presets, Mark Pritchard and Moses Sumney. He is uniquely suited to bring the Sails to life for Vivid Sydney, when the entirety of the Opera House is taken over by incredible music for Vivid LIVE including Solange, Mazzy Star, Ice Cube and DREAMS.

Left: Jonathan Zawada Portrait.

"There are a lot of different artists and creatives who’s work I love but my impetus for creating really has fundamentally shifted away from needing to see others doing things in order to be compelled to do things myself to a more basic and in some ways simplistic approach to making"

Jonathan Zawada

In Metamathemagical, Zawada’s use of cutting-edge technology challenges our understanding of the possibilities of projection. Taking the unique three-dimensional form of the Opera House as a starting point, the artwork explores metaphysical themes through a series of sculptural compositions that distort and mutate in continuous motion. Inspired by the dual concepts of cosmic creation and human creativity, Zawada uses bold neon colour and striking geometric designs to create captivating scenes comprised of everyday objects and natural specimens that evolve, dissolve and metamorphose.
The Sydney Opera House. Photo:

Ten years ago, Brian Eno, the legendary British artist and inaugural curator of ‘Luminous’ – now Vivid LIVE – became the first artist to light the Sails of the Opera House. He considered his artwork ‘77 million paintings’, projected onto the Opera House in 2009, as ‘visual music’ and paved the way for spectacular artworks to come, including the animated First Nations collaboration Songlines in 2016 and Ash Bolland & Amon Tobin’s Audio Creatures in 2017.
77 Million Paintings, exhibited at the Sydney Opera House in 2009.

Ben Marshall, Curator of Vivid LIVE at the Sydney Opera House, says: “10 years ago Brian Eno’s inspired vision first filled the Sails of the Opera House with art. This year, it is a delight to usher in the wild imagination of internationally lauded Australian artist Jonathan Zawada. Metamathemagical transfigures Utzon’s masterpiece into a dazzlingly hyperreal kinetic sculpture, rippling out from Bennelong Point across the entire city and in beautiful synchronicity with the ambitious, rigorous music event it shelters.”

For those unable to attend Lighting of the Sails in person, the Sydney Opera House will once again stream the full broadcast live from the Sydney Opera House Facebook page and its official site on Friday 25 May, 2018. And during the festival there will be audio-described tours of the Sails for visually-impaired patrons on selected evenings.

The Sydney Opera House will light up the Sails every night 6pm-11pm from 25 May to 16 June.

Jonathan Zawada consider that interact with an icon as beautiful as the Sydney Opera House can be once in a lifetime opportunity. "I’ve taken inspiration from the natural world around us and the synthetic world of artificial materials, substances and textures. The Opera House is a completely unique piece of geometry so rather than simply thinking of it as a two-dimensional surface to project onto, I created Metamathemagical as a 3D work from the very start using open source software to create many of the colours and textures.” - said the artist.

Based on materials from official sites of Sydney Opera House, Jonathan Zawada, Artdaily.

Title illustration: Metamathemagical by Jonathan Zawada. Courtesy of Sydney Opera House.