Tuesday, 9 January 2018

National Gallery of Victoria Triennial

Last week I went to the National Gallery of Victoria's first ever Triennial. The Gallery plans to hold the exhibition every three years, in Summer. The first Triennial features 100 artists from around the world, but especially focusing on the Asia-Pacific region. Various types of arts are represented, from traditional painting and sculpture, through to conceptual art, architecture, and furniture design. The exhibits filled up the ground floor, and were scattered amongst the usual displays throughout the upper levels.

One of my favourites was by Yayoi Kusama. An entire apartment re-created in the gallery, with every item you could think of. All surfaces were covered in red flowers. Each visitor was given a fabric flower of their own to stick whereever they liked. The effect on everyone who entered was magical.

Not far from Kusama's apartment was an installation by We Make Carpets. This colourful wall was made entirely of ordinary kitchen sponges!

Other displays invited visitor participation. Pool noodles cut into different lengths could be fitted onto pegs to create a pattern. This room was a lot of fun!

There was a room full of these stunning mask-like creations. They looked like glass, but they were actually 3D-printed. By Neri Oxman.

This pop-art styled room was filled with coloured strings strung from floor to ceiling. Moving through it gave an illusion that the strings were moving.

Of the paintings, I found the series by Kushana Bush intriguing. She mixes the flattened style of traditional Indian and Japanese art with Western subject matter and composition.

This gorgeous carpet uses colour and texture to paint a landscape. Visitors were allowed to lie on it, as long as they didn't get their shoes on it ... which the poor guard had to repeat at least twice a minute!

Normally, works with a political or issue-based message don't have that much effect on me, but I was strangely moved by this piece by Shilpa Gupta, which addresses the ongoing effects of colonialism in India. The huge, room-filling, amorphous sculpture is made of microphones. From it emits the sounds of a streetscape and a voice speaking of an imaginary world with no borders. I found the contrast between the microphones, which are meant to take in sound, and the sound being emitted by the piece to be strangely otherworldly.

I liked this carpet by Faig Ahmed, which makes a statement on our perceptions of tradition.

Most of all, I like art which is a joyous celebration of life, which I think these weavings by the artists of the Akay Koo’oila Women’s Art Centre exemplify.

Last but not least, one of the most popular works was this skull room by Ron Mueck. 100 giant-sized skulls are stacked up all over an entire room of the gallery.

The Triennial is open every day until 15th April 2018. Admission is free.

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