The best of Australia's art scene comes together for this year's Melbourne Art Fair, marking the country's first in-person fair since the start of the pandemic. Here are some of our favourite works on view across the 63 galleries on view.
Graduating from Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland with an MFA in 2019, Grace Wright is a New Zealand artist whose lyrical abstraction has caught the attention of the global art market in the last few years.
Grace Wright has a unique ability to consolidate diverse sources, including 17th-century religious painting, bodily forms, and nature, into gestural planes full of vibrant hues.
Visiting the artist's studio earlier this year, Ocula's Anna Dickie reported, in reference to their intestine-like and tangled forms, 'These are not "pretty paintings"; they are works that want to enthral and repulse in equal measure to create a visceral experience.'
Kirsty Budge at Daine Singer
Blending abstraction and figuration in rich painted worlds, Kirsty Budge's introspective practice is centred on intuition, layering symbols and motifs into ambiguous realms.
As the artist has explained, her method involves 'the intention of painting itself and the point where you break away from what you literally see, listen to what the work is doing and follow the intuitive composition emerging within the painting.'
Having graduated with a BFA from the Victorian College of the Arts, where she was recipient of the 2014 Stirling Collective Award for Painting, Budge is one to watch.
Vienna-based artist André Hemer is interested in the transformations that occur between the worlds of painting and new media.
Despite their referencing digital worlds, Hemer's lush images are best experienced in person to observe their layered entities. This involves the artist first scanning paint blobs before digitally printing them onto canvas. They are then coated with paint before the initial blobs are returned to the collaged surfaces.
Having received a PhD in Painting from Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney in 2015, Hemer has exhibited extensively and his works are held in public collections including the Taiwan Museum of Art, Te Manawa Museum, Christchurch Art Gallery, and the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, among others.
Nick Santoro at The Egg & Dart
Young artist and musician Nick Santoro embraces the flatness of acrylic painting to generate images of Australian suburbia that are full of character.
Having graduated with a BFA from the University of New South Wales in 2017, Santoro is at the beginning of his journey as an artist, and there is no doubt that his distinct style, comprising kooky characters and strong colours, will gain increasing attention in years to come.
Winner of the Art Gallery of New South Wales' 2020 Archibald Prize, Australia's coveted prize for portraiture, Vincent Namatjira is known for his caricaturesque representations of public and celebrity figures including Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un, and Chuck Berry, as in the case of this painting.
As the artist has explained in Ocula Magazine, 'A lot of my recent paintings are about the reversal of power structures—displacing powerful figures takes away some of their dominance.'
Main image: Nick Santoro, The Flying Saucer (2021). Acrylic on board with hand-painted frame. 74 x 59 cm. Courtesy The Egg & Dart.