Melbourne's inaugural recurring festival of art is in full swing for the summer
Sydney has the Biennale, Adelaide has its Biennial – and finally Melbourne has its own recurring festival of contemporary art. The inaugural NGV Triennial features more than 100 artists and designers from more than 30 countries, and takes over the four floors of the NGV. Big names include Yayoi Kusama (who has presented a brand-new immersive installation), Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Xu Zhen, Candice Breitz, and couturiers Guo Pei and Iris van Herpen.
As its point of difference from offerings in other states, the NGV Triennial focuses on art and design and how the two inform each other; NGV director Tony Ellwood says that this theme is "an even more contemporary way of reflecting what our creative community is doing around the globe."
Twenty new works have been commissioned for the Triennial, from artists including Chinese couture superstar Guo Pei (whose canary-yellow cape gown won Rihanna the red carpet at the Met Gala in 2015), Japanese collective teamLab, Australian sculptor Ron Mueck, Chinese sculptor and installation artist Xu Zhen, and Argentian artist Alexandra Kehayoglou – who has created a 100m2 carpet landscape inspired by the Santa Cruz River, a glacial flow that is under threat from two proposed dams.
Kusama's immersive new installation invites visitors to apply a 'flower motif' to a room, over four months – until it is "obliterated".
Other works are drawn from recent practice such as three stunning monochrome self-portraits by South African artist (and prolific documenter of the LGBTQIA community) Zanele Muholi, from her 2015 series Somnyama Ngonyama (meaning 'Hail, the Dark Lioness').
Ellwood describes the line-up as diverse "on a social, cultural, scientific and psychological basis."
The local talent list features Ben Quilty, Brodie Neill, Büro North, the Yarrenyty Arltere Artists, Louisa Bufardeci, the Bula’bula Artists, Reko Rennie, Riley Payne, Ron Mueck, Sean O’Connell, and Tom Crago.
"In talking to the artists, five conceptual themes emerged," Ellwood says: the body, change, movement, time, and the virtual.
Check out our hit list of the best art to see this month in Melbourne.