The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Triennial presents over 100 artists and designers from 32 countries until 15 April 2018.
Art Radar takes a look at some of the highlights from the Triennial.
Spread across their gallery spaces, the NGV Triennial explores contemporary art and design from across the globe: from Korea to Angola, China to Iran. The works investigate diverse creative practices such as architecture, animation, performance, film, painting, drawing, fashion design, tapestry and sculpture.
Art Radar explores some of the highlights of the exhibition.
1. Hassan Hajjaj
Born in Morocco in 1961, and now living in London and Marrakesh, Hassan Hajjaj is sometimes known as the “Andy Warhol of Marrakech”. He draws from a range of techniques and he incorporates diverse media such as custom made clothes, photography, lamps, stools and poufs made from recycled objects. For the Triennial Hajjaj converted the restaurant space into a Moroccan tea house through vibrant furniture, wallpaper, Moroccan signage, light fittings, a menu and soundtrack. He plays with the idea of being between two places – an experience of noss noss (half and half), a term in Morocco for coffee and milk. He has personally experienced this mixing of cultures himself, living between London and Marrakesh, and he has included portraits of his friends and colleagues in the installation.
2. Myoung Ho Lee
Korean artist Myoung Ho Lee (b. 1975) has focused his camera lens at trees since 2004 in order to highlight their beauty. He finds that trees are so common that we often take them for granted. He explains:
It’s as if the tree unites all: the ground, the sky and man in between. In East Asian philosophy the universe breaks down into three parts: Chun-Ji-In. Chun means the sky, Ji means the ground, and In means human. Since a tree connects all three, I feel very much that a tree is like a universe.
The trees in the Triennial are photographed with a blank canvas behind them, dividing them from their natural environment and thereby emphasising their detail. At the same time the process makes them appear somewhat artificial, placing them in the visual language of communication design, both isolating them and throwing into relief their place in the environment.
3. Zanele Muholi
South African visual activist Zanele Muholi uses herself as a model in these works for the NGV Triennial, part of the Somnyama Ngonyama series (2015–16). Meaning Hail the dark lioness, the series investigates concepts of self-representation, race, gender, politics and stereotypes through the recognisable trope of the portrait, or, in contemporary culture, the “selfie”. She uses everyday objects as her props and she has altered her skin so that it takes on an intense black tone. She explains that ‘By exaggerating the darkness of my skin tone, I’m reclaiming my blackness’.
4. Pascale Marthine Tayou
Born in Cameroon in 1966, Pascale Marthine Tayou creates installations and sculptures that investigate the effects of globalisation. In Coloured stones (Pavés colorés) (2015) Tayou paints and arranges quarried granite paving stones, a reference to the improvised weapons used in acts of resistance and social unrest. The colours can allude to the way society can be divided up into alliances and political divisions, the work questioning these divisions and the violence they can lead to. Tayou is a self-taught artist and often works with recycled and repurposed materials, such as plastic objects and bags, rags, old clothes and wrecked cars.
5. Edson Chagas
Angola born photographer Edson Chagas (1977) focuses on the everyday in order to explore contemporary challenges such as consumerism, capitalism and the impact of cultural changes on tradition. In an interview with Culture And Chagas explained:
While growing up in Luanda, everything was reutilised and it was special to me to see how the consumerism habits were changing. I could find sofas and washing machines but also chairs, those were the most common, but also other objects. It was always about the object and how it interacted with the space around it. Also what I feel when I look at it. It’s a learning process of the city, its people and rhythm.
For the Triennial Chagas presents his series Tipo Passe (2014), a collection of photographs in the style of passport photographs, but with the faces covered by masks. The passport photo is a form that can be recognised across the world as a form of identification, however combined with the masks they imply a deeper dialogue disappearance and invisibility that suggests at Angola’s history as a colony of Portugal from 1575 until independence in 1975.
6. Xu Zhen
A centrepiece for the Triennial is Xu Zhen’s (b. 1977) Eternity-Buddha in Nirvana, the Dying Gaul, Farnese Hercules, Night, Day, Sartyr and Bacchante, Funerary Genius, Achilles, Persian Soldier Fighting, Dancing Faun, Crouching Aphrodite, Narcissus Lying, Othryades the Spartan Dying, the Fall of Icarus, A River, Milo of Croton (2016– 17). Places in the foyer and entrance to the Triennial the work is a large scale sculpture that combines a replica of a famous Buddhist statue covered by Greco-Roman, Renaissance and Neoclassical sculptures. The merging cultures is both impactful and elegant. Xu hopes this can suggest ‘a new form of creative culture’ that evokes appreciation across cultures. He further explains:
I have always been curious about the differences between cultures and the alienation between them. And yet, misconceptions can be the beginning of awareness and understanding.
Xu works across a range of media video, photography, performance, painting, sculpture, installation and curation.
7. Tala Madani
Painter Tala Madani, born in 1981 in Iran, creates ironic and darkly comic narratives. She works on both an intimate as well as large scale, to depict uncomfortable scenes and absurd scenarios often with bald, middle-aged men. In the Triennial Madani presents three paintings, Primer (2015), Smiley has no nose (2015) and Lights in the living room (2017). In each she challenges traditional power relations, including male privilege. Cartoons, cinema, videos and television have influenced her work.
NGV Triennial is on view from 15 December 2017 to 15 April 2018 at National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC 3006, Australia.
- 6 Highlights from the Inaugural STANDART, the Triennial of Contemporary Art in Armenia – December 2017 – Art Radar takes a look at some highlights from the inaugural STANDART, the Triennial of Contemporary Art in Armenia
- Garage International Triennial of Contemporary Art, Moscow – a round-up with highlights – May 2017 – Garage International Triennial in Moscow is the first survey of Russia’s extensive contemporary art scene
- Sharjah Biennial 13 programme kicks off with educational and digital project – October 2016 – Sharjah Biennial 13 extended public programme kicks off with education events in Sharjah and an online digital research project
- A tale of two cities: Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne – April 2016 – the exhibition “Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei” at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne explores modern and contemporary art, life and cultural politics
- 8 highlights from the 8th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art – November 2015 – the 8th Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8) at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) in Brisbane, Australia features more than 80 artists from over 30 countries
Subscribe to Art Radar for more on African contemporary art