Paris Lettau
KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness

Earlier this week, a group of masked graffiti artists seemed to appropriate the work of Ash Keating—who was commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria to spray the side of the NGV building in 2013—and descended on the CBD to spray the walls of Melbourne's iconic Hosier Lane using paint filled fire extinguishers. Their work was a performative protest piece that intended to critique the commercialisation of street culture and graffiti art, and in particular to target the signs and symbols...

Luke Smythe
Colin McCahon: Letters and Numbers

Colin McCahon: Letters and Numbers

National Gallery of Victoria
14 November 2019 – April 2020

By Luke Smythe

McCahon's centenary began in August, and to mark the occasion curator Jane Devery has mounted Letters and Numbers, a one-room exhibition featuring all six works from the NGV collection and five loans that are promised to the gallery. The show is weighted heavily toward the later years of McCahon's career, which ran from the late 1930s until the early 1980s. The only work to pr...

Rex Butler
Collecting Comme

Flat of Angles

Collecting Comme

National Gallery of Victoria
31 October 2019 – 26 July 2020

Rex Butler

Rei Kawakubo's first Comme des Garçons show in Paris in April 1981 is now a legendary event in the history of fashion. Mounted unofficially at the Intercontinental Hotel during Prêt-à-Porter week and featuring just five models—she had not received the favour of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, which decided, like the French Academy the century before, who would show duri...

Wen Xiao
Terracotta Warriors & Cai Guo-Qiang

Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality


Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape

NGV International
24 May – 13 October 2019

By Wen Xiao

"Imagine they all come alive!" says a young schoolboy. His words, along with the highly naturalistic style of terracotta warriors, remind us of Mamoru Oshii's renowned screen production Ghost in the Shell: Innocence (2004). The film discusses the ambiguous boundary between human and anthropomorphous robots, challenging the conventional understan...

Francis Plagne
Visions of Paradise

Visions of Paradise: Indian Court Paintings

National Gallery of Victoria, Southbank

7 Dec 2018 – 29 Apr 2019

By Francis Plagne

Visions of Paradise is an unexpected delight. Bringing together nearly 200 works on paper from the NGV's 1980 Felton Bequest acquisitions of Indian painting, the exhibition offers up a feast of fine details, lavish lifestyles and sizzling colours. Even for the historically uninformed viewer like me, the offerings are an irresistible invitation to rekindle the jo...

Amelia Winata
Hito Steyerl: Factory of the Sun

Hito Steyerl: Factory of the Sun

National Gallery of Victoria

28 September 2018 – 24 March 2019

By Amelia Winata

Hito Steyerl is arguably the most important "post-internet" artist alive today. Though the history of post-internet art is a nascent one insofar as wide-spread use of the technology is quite a recent phenomenon, the art that responds to it also reflects this ascendency. Ironically, the post-internet 'condition' seems to have had a limited lifespan, the work seeming to confirm...

Rex Butler
Shearing the Rams

Tom Roberts, Shearing the Rams

National Gallery of Victoria, Permanent Collection

By Rex Butler

I was recently showing a friend from New Zealand through the Australian collection at the National Gallery of Victoria and we came, of course, to Tom Roberts' Shearing the Rams (1888-90). You have to get there eventually because everything in the collection and its arrangement on the walls points you that way. The work is visible — and intentionally so — as you step into the first of the room...

Victoria Perin
Baldessin/Whiteley: Parallel Visions

Baldessin/Whiteley: Parallel Visions

National Gallery of Victoria Australia, Federation Square31 August 2018 – 28 January 2019

By Victoria Perin

Together George Baldessin and Imants Tillers represented Australia in the 1975 Bienal de São Paulo. Although Tillers was 25 and Baldessin eleven years older, the artists bonded closely: “George represented the more conservative art world I had just decided to abandon,” notes Tillers in an interview with researcher Nicole Bowller from 2016, “but in...