The NGV Triennial is a large-scale exhibition of international contemporary art, design and architecture that explores some of the most globally relevant and pressing issues of our time, including isolation, representation and speculation on the future. Featuring 86 projects by more than 100 artists, designers and collectives from more than 30 countries, the NGV Triennial opened at NGV International
on Saturday 19 December 2020, presenting the first opportunity for audiences to visit the reopened gallery.
Featuring works by Aïda Muluneh (Ethiopia) Alicja Kwade (Germany), Cerith Wyn Evans (Wales), Dhambit Mununggurr (Australia), Faye Toogood (England), Fred Wilson (USA), Hannah Brontë (Australia), Jeff Koons (USA), Joi. T Arcand (Canada), JR (France), Kengo Kuma (Japan), Liam Young (Australia), Misaki Kawai (Japan), Patricia Urquiola (Spain), Porky Hefer (South Africa) and Refik Anadol (Turkey), the NGV Triennial includes more than 30 major new world-premiere works especially commissioned by the NGV for this exhibition.
Offering a visually arresting and thought-provoking view of the world at this unique moment, exhibition highlights include: an entire floor dedicated to works concerning light and illumination presented in dialogue with the NGVs historical collection; a monumental video work by Refik Anadol spanning 10 metres high and wide, which uses artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and quantum computing to visualise our digitised memories of nature; and a larger-than-life mirror-polished sculpture of Venus, Roman goddess of love, by American artist Jeff Koons.
Further highlights include a comprehensive display of works by Yolngu woman Dhambit Mununggurr, the first Yolngu artist working at Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre to depict Country in signature shades of acrylic blue paint. Comprising 15 large-scale single sheet bark paintings and nine larrakitj (hollow poles), some of which stand more than three metres high, the works have all been painted with the artists non-preferred left hand after a car accident left her with limited mobility.
Kengo Kuma, one of the most respected figures in Japanese architecture, has collaborated with Melbourne artist Geoffrey Nees to create an architectural pavilion that acts as a sensorial walkway through which to approach and contemplate a newly acquired painting by South Korean artist Lee Ufan. Botanical pavilion is constructed from timber harvested from trees that died during the Millennium Drought at Melbournes Royal Botanic Gardens, some of which pre-date European colonisation.
Exploring the themes of daylight, candlelight and moonlight inspired by and within the context of the NGVs seventeenth and eighteenth century Flemish, Dutch and British collections, interior designer Faye Toogood has curated several gallery spaces creating a considered salon-style interior featuring newly commissioned furniture, lighting, scenography, sculpture and large-scale tapestries.
Also making its world premiere is a work by renowned French artist JR, which brings global attention to the ecological decline of the Darling River. The work comprises a simple scaffold structure erected in the NGV Grollo Equiset Garden replete with a printed façade to house five large-scale stained-glass windows that depict orchardists who have been forced to remove and burn their families commercial orchards, and a senior Baakandji Elder and spokesperson for the Darling (Baaka) River. The portraits are based on photographs taken by JR when he visited the Sunraysia agricultural region of Victoria and New South Wales.
The exhibition is underpinned by four themes Illumination, Reflection, Conservation, and Speculation that invite audiences to embark on a journey of exploration and to discover the intersecting ideas through the works on display. The four thematic pillars have emerged from the collective work presented in the NGV Triennial, illuminating the pressing concerns that preoccupy the artists, designers and architects of our time. Drawing on intimacy and awe, sadness and beauty, ruination and inspiration, these themes present a microcosm of the current world.
Free and exclusive to Melbourne, this is the second instalment of the NGV Triennial, which is held every three years. The inaugural exhibition, held in 2017, remains the NGVs most attended exhibition to date, with 1.23 million visitors.
Tony Ellwood AM, Director, National Gallery of Victoria said: The NGV Triennial offers visitors a significant opportunity to explore how we use art to express ourselves, communicate and consider the world as it is, while also asking how we would like it to be. Artists, designers and architects of the twenty-first century perform a vital role in giving form to our collective imagination, fears and aspirations. We are all living in a world in flux: there has never been a more important moment to celebrate human capability than now.
Danny Pearson MP, Minister for Creative Industries said: While the doors of our gallery have been closed, the NGV team has been working hard behind the scenes with local artists and artists across the globe to prepare for a spectacular 2020 NGV Triennial. Unique to the NGV and to Victoria the 2020 NGV Triennial is set to be a cultural experience like no other. Like many Victorians, I cant wait to return to the NGV and to a summer of extraordinary contemporary art, design and creativity.
Horst von Sanden, Managing Director Mercedes-Benz Cars & CEO Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific, said Mercedes-Benz has been a proud and passionate supporter of the National Gallery of Victoria for the past thirteen years, and we are excited to take our place as the Principal Partner of NGV Triennial 2020. The intersection of ideas, design and the senses is where we create Mercedes-Benz vehicles our motto is the best or nothing. The same is true of the NGV Triennial, which will no doubt be presented to the highest standard by Tony Ellwood and his skilled team, and be bursting with artistic inspiration and creative energy.