Worldwide icon-chevron-right South Pacific icon-chevron-right Australia icon-chevron-right Melbourne icon-chevron-right The best art exhibitions in Melbourne this month

The best art exhibitions in Melbourne this month

Set off on an art adventure with these exhibitions and events – from major blockbusters to must-see freebies

KAWS NGV 2019 supplied
Photograph: Tom Ross Installation view of KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness

There's art in just about every corner of the city this month, with the NGV playing host to KAWS's colourfully creepy creations and bidding farewell to the Terracotta Warriors. Melbourne Festival is this month and a bunch of high profile exhibitions are opening to coincide, including a solo show from Japan's legendary digital art collective, TeamLab. And London-based artist and DJ Haroon Mirza is transforming ACCA with a bold, immersive show.

Looking to get out of the gallery? See the best street art in Melbourne. And if you're after something a touch more dramatic, here's our hit-list of the best theatre in Melbourne this month.

Melbourne's best exhibitions in June

Mariana Castillo Deball // Replaying lifes tape
Mariana Castillo Deball, 'Ediacara panorama' 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

Mariana Castillo Deball: Replaying Life’s Tape

icon-location-pin Monash University Museum of Art, Caulfield East

Visiting South Australia’s Flinders Ranges last year, Mexico-born, Berlin-based artist Mariana Castillo Deball was fascinated by what she saw. Known as the Ediacara Hills, the area is famous for a group of fossils so significant that they spawned their own geological age, the Ediacaran Period, some 635 to 542 million years ago.

Polixeni Papapetrou, Olympia NGV 2019 supplied
© The estate of Polixeni Papapetrou
Art, Photography

Polixeni Papapetrou: Olympia

icon-location-pin The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

Polixeni Papapetrou was one of Australia’s leading contemporary photographers before her tragic death last year at the age of just 57. Best known for her images of children, particularly of her daughter Olympia and son Solomon dressed as characters from historical, artistic or imaginary settings, her work was frequently concerned with imagination, storytelling, childhood and issues of identity.

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion Bendigo Art Gallery 2019 image supplied
Photograph: © The Richard Avedon Foundation
Art, Design

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion

icon-location-pin Bendigo Art Gallery, Bendigo

Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga mightn't be quite as famous as Coco Chanel and Christian Dior, but both those designers tipped their hat to Balenciaga as the leader of his generation. Dior said he was "the master of us all", and Chanel said he was "the only couturier in the truest sense of the word". 

Batik Desert Lines Bendigo Art Gallery 2019 supplied
Photograph: Julia Murray

Desert Lines: Batik from Central Australia

icon-location-pin Bendigo Art Gallery, Bendigo

Batik – an Indonesian technique of dyeing fabric – was introduced to Indigenous women in 1971, and went on to play a pivotal role in the development of contemporary central desert art, placing women at the forefront of the burgeoning market and paving the way for working on canvas.

Tjungu Palya Artbank 2019 supplied
Photograph: Silversalt

Tjungu Palya: As We Come Together We Stand Strong For Our Story

icon-location-pin Artbank Collingwood, Collingwood

Tjungu Palya is an Aboriginal-owned and run art centre in South Australia, around 450 km south-west of Alice Springs at the base of the Mann Ranges. Given that it’s situated in the Nyapari community, of which there are only around 85 members, it’s a significant and influential force in Australian art. 

Roger Kemp: Visionary Modernist National Gallery of Victoria 2019 supplied
Photograph: Tom Ross

Roger Kemp: Visionary Modernist

icon-location-pin The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne

His name might not be as well known as some of his contemporaries, but Roger Kemp was one of Australia’s greatest abstractionists. Best known for his large-scale tapestries that hang in the great hall of the National Gallery of Victoria, during his lifetime Kemp eschewed figurative and landscape art in favour of a more metaphysical approach.

Pippin Drysdale
Photograph: Robert Frith
Art, Sculpture and installations

An Idea Needing to Be Made: Contemporary Ceramics

icon-location-pin Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen

Once considered folksy and functional, ceramic vessels get a fresh look in this exhibit at the Heide Museum of Modern Art. A dozen local and international artists showcase their contemporary approaches to an ancient art form, through original techniques and a variety of aesthetic styles. 

Liquid Light NGV 2019
Image courtesy NGV

Liquid Light: 500 Years of Venetian Glass

icon-location-pin NGV International, Southbank

Venetian glass is known across the world for its vibrant colour, elaborate designs and exquisite craftsmanship, honed over centuries by traditional glassblowers on the Venetian island of Murano. In Liquid Light, the National Gallery of Victoria brings together their extensive collection of glass pieces.

Haroon Mirza Pavilion for Optimisation supplied 2019 ACCA
Photograph: Bettina Matthiessen

Haroon Mirza: The Construction of an Act

icon-location-pin Australian Centre for Contemporary Art - ACCA, Southbank

There's a good chance you don't know Haroon Mirza's name just yet, but the London-based artist is making a huge impression overseas with his artworks, which combine installation, electricity and a frequently startling use of sound. This exhibition is Mirza's first solo show in Australia, and will utilise all of ACCA's gallery spaces as one giant musical instrument. From there, other artists will be invited into the space to collaborate. Read our interview with Mirza about all you'll experience in the exhibition.

Looking to get outside the gallery?

Croft Alley, Melbourne Street Art 2017, Photo credit: Graham Denholm
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Art, Street art

Where to find the best street art in Melbourne

Sure, street art covers almost every nook and cranny of our creative, colourful city, but there are more highly concentrated clusters than others. These are the street art hotspots that any self-respecting 'grammer should be snapping: the city's ten best street mural hotspots, in all their spray-painted laneway glory.