Get us in your inbox

'Buttpus', Porky Hefer 2019-20.
Photograph: © Porky Hefer / image courtesy of Porky Hefer and Southern Guild'Buttpus', Porky Hefer 2019-20.

The NGV Triennial has announced its 2020 dates and exhibiting artists

More than 100 artists will be on show when the NGV Triennial opens this December
Written by
Nicola Dowse

The hotly anticipated NGV Triennial will return this summer, with the gallery announcing the dates for the second edition of the colossal exhibition. The NGV Triennial will run from December 19 to April 18, 2021, showcasing 86 thought-provoking, eye-widening works from more than 100 artists.

Of those 86 works, 34 have never been seen before and were commissioned by the NGV explicitly for the Triennial. The gallery has managed to score some of the world’s top artists and designers for the blockbuster exhibition, with names like Jeff Koons, Refik AnadolPorky HeferKengo Juma, Fecal Matter and Hannah Brontë

As with the inaugural Triennial in 2017, the exhibition is set to be both artistically cutting edge and visually engaging, with several larger-than-life works scattered throughout the gallery. You'll be hard pressed to miss Refik Anadol’s ten-metre ‘Quantum Memories’ (a huge multimedia work that uses artificial intelligence to create an alternative vision of the natural world). It’d be equally impressive to miss celebrated American artist Jeff Koons' ‘Venus’ – a lustrous, larger-than-life sculpture of Greek goddess Venus bearing an uncanny resemblance to a Royal Doulton figurine. 

'Venus', Jeff Koons 2016-20
Photograph: © the artist and Gagosian

Art imitates life, as they say, and you can expect the Triennial to be no different. While the exhibition is diverse in both artist and works (more than 30 countries are represented), tying all of it together are pertinent themes like isolation, representation and speculation. 

You can also expect a few works that directly explore the global garbage fire that has been 2020. In ‘Dance Biodegradable Personal Protective Equipment (DBPPE) Post Covid Facemasks’ UK artist Alice Potts turns food waste and flowers into face shields, while Melbourne-based, Hong Kong-born artist Scotty So presents ‘China Masks’ a set of eight porcelain facemasks that spark humour in what has been an exhaustingly grim situation.

'China mask/Incense holder, Hong Kong Orchid Tree, no. 1', Scotty So 2020
Photograph: © Scotty So

As one of the youngest local artists to be included in the 2020 Triennial, So spoke to us about what it meant to be included in the major exhibition. “I’m very honoured,” he says “As an international student I often felt not as supported by the institutions sometimes. It’s amazing that I get to show at the Triennial.” So only completed his bachelor's degree at RMIT in 2018 and his honours in fine arts at the VCA last year. Despite exhibiting porcelain masks for the Triennial, he only started working with ceramics after watching The Great Pottery Throw Down during the first lockdown. “It got me really into ceramics,” he says. “So I just ordered the materials.”

Other key artworks to look out for at the Triennial include ‘Solaris’ by Indonesian artist collective Tromarama (it's a giant neon curtain pulsating with jellyfish), Atong Atem’s vibrant series of photographs exploring stories of the African diaspora, ‘Moja Moja Life: Misaki Kawai for Kids’ by Misaki Kawai (an indoor playground featuring a giant furry dog centrepiece), Waddi Waddi, Ngarrindjeri and Yorta Yorta artist Glenda Nicholl’s ‘Miwi Milloo’ (a handwoven net featuring thousands of finger knots and feather flowers), Danielle Brustman’s ‘Spectrum: An exploration of colour’ (which extends Leonard French’s famous rainbow stained glass ceiling), and ‘Boudoir Bablyon’ by Sibling Architecture and Adam Nathaniel Furman (where the NGV Gallery Kitchen is turned into a vibrant, psychedelic space that’s inspired by boudoirs, salons and clubs). 

'Paanda', Atong Atem 2020.
Photograph: © Atong Atem'Paanda', Atong Atem 2020.

The NGV Triennial is free and opens to the public Friday, December 19. Visit the NGV website for the full list of artists.

West is best: Yarraville has been named one of the world's coolest neighbourhoods.

Plus Pentridge Prison is being turned into a 15-screen cinema this December.

Latest news