Rex Butler
Collecting Comme

Flat of Angles

Collecting Comme

National Gallery of Victoria
31 October 2019 – 26 July 2020

Rex Butler

Rei Kawakubo's first Comme des Garçons show in Paris in April 1981 is now a legendary event in the history of fashion. Mounted unofficially at the Intercontinental Hotel during Prêt-à-Porter week and featuring just five models—she had not received the favour of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, which decided, like the French Academy the century before, who would show duri...

Wen Xiao
Terracotta Warriors & Cai Guo-Qiang

Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality


Cai Guo-Qiang: The Transient Landscape

NGV International
24 May – 13 October 2019

By Wen Xiao

"Imagine they all come alive!" says a young schoolboy. His words, along with the highly naturalistic style of terracotta warriors, remind us of Mamoru Oshii's renowned screen production Ghost in the Shell: Innocence (2004). The film discusses the ambiguous boundary between human and anthropomorphous robots, challenging the conventional understan...

Francis Plagne
Visions of Paradise

Visions of Paradise: Indian Court Paintings

National Gallery of Victoria, Southbank

7 Dec 2018 – 29 Apr 2019

By Francis Plagne

Visions of Paradise is an unexpected delight. Bringing together nearly 200 works on paper from the NGV's 1980 Felton Bequest acquisitions of Indian painting, the exhibition offers up a feast of fine details, lavish lifestyles and sizzling colours. Even for the historically uninformed viewer like me, the offerings are an irresistible invitation to rekindle the jo...

Amelia Winata
Hito Steyerl: Factory of the Sun

Hito Steyerl: Factory of the Sun

National Gallery of Victoria

28 September 2018 – 24 March 2019

By Amelia Winata

Hito Steyerl is arguably the most important "post-internet" artist alive today. Though the history of post-internet art is a nascent one insofar as wide-spread use of the technology is quite a recent phenomenon, the art that responds to it also reflects this ascendency. Ironically, the post-internet 'condition' seems to have had a limited lifespan, the work seeming to confirm...

Rex Butler
Shearing the Rams

Tom Roberts, Shearing the Rams

National Gallery of Victoria, Permanent Collection

By Rex Butler

I was recently showing a friend from New Zealand through the Australian collection at the National Gallery of Victoria and we came, of course, to Tom Roberts' Shearing the Rams (1888-90). You have to get there eventually because everything in the collection and its arrangement on the walls points you that way. The work is visible — and intentionally so — as you step into the first of the room...

Victoria Perin
Baldessin/Whiteley: Parallel Visions

Baldessin/Whiteley: Parallel Visions

National Gallery of Victoria Australia, Federation Square31 August 2018 – 28 January 2019

By Victoria Perin

Together George Baldessin and Imants Tillers represented Australia in the 1975 Bienal de São Paulo. Although Tillers was 25 and Baldessin eleven years older, the artists bonded closely: “George represented the more conservative art world I had just decided to abandon,” notes Tillers in an interview with researcher Nicole Bowller from 2016, “but in...

Rex Butler
Colony: Australia 1770–1861 / Frontier Wars

Colony: Australia 1770–1861 / Frontier Wars

Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria. Colony: Australia 1770–1861 until 15 July | Colony: Frontier Wars until 30 September

By Rex Butler

Colony is undoubtedly the best show the NGV has put on since Australian Impressionists in France in 2013. And I’d even say that the two shows are connected. Seriously. Both shake up our conception of what “Australia” is and perhaps even more profoundly where “Australia” is. Certainly, a number...

Rex Butler
The Field Revisited

The Two Sides of the Field

The Field Revisited

Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria, 27 April – 26 August

By Rex Butler

There are perhaps three art-viewing experiences I have had that I would say changed the way I looked at and thought about art. The first was when as an undergraduate I wandered without any warning into the Colin McCahon retrospective held at the University of Sydney as part of the Sydney Biennale of 1984. The second was when, again without any warning, I stoo...