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Melbourne Art Week 2022: Exhibitions to See

By Elaine YJ Zheng  |  Melbourne, 9 February 2022

Melbourne Art Week 2022: Exhibitions to See

Isaac Julien, O que é um museu? / What is a Museum? (Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvellous Entanglement) (2019). Courtesy Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.

Staged at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne Art Fair (17–20 February 2022) returns this year with works presented by 63 leading galleries curated around notions of djeembana (community) and place. With exhibitions taking place across the city, here is a definitive guide of what to see.

Alberta Whittle, HOLDING THE LINE (June 2020) (2020) (still). 2K and HD video, mobile phone footage. 13 min.

Alberta Whittle, HOLDING THE LINE (June 2020) (2020) (still). 2K and HD video, mobile phone footage. 13 min. Courtesy the artist & Copperfield.

Peripheral Vision
Anna Schwartz Gallery, 185 Flinders Lane
2 February–7 May 2022

Following Melbourne's long periods spent in lockdown, Peripheral Vision offers the chance to experience video works in the gallery space, with works by leading video artists including Alberta Whittle, Cyprien Gaillard, Sarah Morris, and Yael Bartana.

Among the large-scale video presentations, Bartana's Tashlikh (Cast Off) (2017) refers to the Jewish atonement ritual of Tashlikh—a ceremony whereby objects are released into a body of water to represent the casting of sins. In Bartana's video, objects belonging to victims and the perpetrators of genocide fall across the scene.

Rebecca Agnew, Infinite West (2021) (film still). Single-channel video installation. HDV.

Rebecca Agnew, Infinite West (2021) (film still). Single-channel video installation. HDV. Courtesy Jacob Hoerner Galleries.

Rebecca Agnew: Infinite West
Jacob Hoerner Galleries, 1 Sutton Place
9–26 February 2022

Painter, sculptor, and stop-motion animator Rebecca Agnew creates physical and digital worlds animated with characters and props assembled from recycled phones, paper leaves, and glitter—all selected by the artist for their ecological impact on the environment.

Disfigured barbie dolls and pink-fleshed creatures populate Agnew's new stop-motion animation Infinite West (2021), made from material aggregations that evoke waste and excess, shot in bright pink ensembles against pink desert smoke.

Alice Wormald, Amber Wrap (2021). Oil on linen. 72 x 56 cm.

Alice Wormald, Amber Wrap (2021). Oil on linen. 72 x 56 cm. Courtesy Daine Singer.

Alice Wormald: Small Variations
Daine Singer, 90 Moor Street
9 February–19 March 2022

Melbourne-based painter Alice Wormald renders wrapped spatial constructions from collected and collaged images, imbuing otherwise flat surfaces with sculptural and handmade qualities, as if peeling wallpaper, or a hallucination.

For Small Variations, Wormald will show three-dimensional arrangements on paper, double-side paintings on glass, and oil on linen works like Amber Wrap (2021), in which the artist has painted the Scottish flag as a freestanding form with surgical incisions and open sutures.

Atong Atem, infrared mandut, wundut (2021). Photography.

Atong Atem, infrared mandut, wundut (2021). Photography. Courtesy the artist and Gertrude.

Atong Atem: Everything in Remission
Gertrude Contemporary, 21–31 High Street
12 February–27 March 2022

Born in Kenya's Kakuma refugee camp before moving to Australia as a child, Atong Atem's long-standing interest in identity and displacement has inspired vivid self-portraits and family studies that explore identities of the African diaspora and notions of home.

Everything in Remission will feature two panoramic collages of photographs produced over the last ten years; the first vibrant in colour, while the second is an inverted black and white copy reflecting the experience of clarity and depression during periods of stillness.

Vittoria Di Stefano, The Palace at 4pm (2021) (detail). Salvaged timber, vinyl, resin.

Vittoria Di Stefano, The Palace at 4pm (2021) (detail). Salvaged timber, vinyl, resin. Courtesy the artist and Gertrude.

Vittoria Di Stefano: The Palace at 4pm
Gertrude Contemporary, 2131 High Street
12 February–27 March 2022

Sculptor and installation artist Vittoria Di Stefano replicates the spatial and psychological affects of domestic spaces in The Palace at 4pm, which evokes the nostalgia of traditional dwellings across a series of sculptures salvaged from mid-century furniture.

Reassembled with bronze, silk fibre, resin, and plaster, sentimentally charged objects are rendered uncanny. Hints of familiarity are retained in a mural evocative of 1970s interior design painted on the inner gallery walls.

Adam Lee, Soothsayer (2021). Oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas. 210 x 160 cm.

Adam Lee, Soothsayer (2021). Oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas. 210 x 160 cm. Courtesy the artist and STATION. Photo: Christo Crocker.

Adam Lee: World Sick Hermit
STATION Gallery, 6 Ellis Street
29 January–26 February 2022

Melbourne-based artist Adam Lee paints expansive supernatural scenes inspired by historical photographs, colonial archives, and biblical narratives. Lee's layered compositions blend sentiment and allegory, making it difficult to look away, or unpack their doomsday prophecies.

In the wrapped landscape Soothsayer (2021), two figures sit against a barren landscape in what appears to be the aftermath of a flood. One looks back to a skeleton-shaped wave composed of grimacing spirits, while a man's profile emerges in the foreground, eyes cast downward.

Michael Vale, Cobalt Blue (2021). Oil on linen. 122 x 102 cm.

Michael Vale, Cobalt Blue (2021). Oil on linen. 122 x 102 cm. Courtesy James Makin Gallery.

Michael Vale
Melbourne Art Fair, James Makin Gallery
17–20 February 2022

Blending dark fiction with the absurd, Michael Vale's satirical mythologies depict skeletal figures in surrealist settings. Fictional and comedic, Vale's paintings also contain autobiographical references.

At Melbourne Art Fair, oils on linen like Cobalt Blue (2021) carry on Vale's reflections at the intersection of art and life, with two skeletons dressed in suede jackets lingering by a dirt road, one holding a paintbrush and the other a bright blue canvas.

COADY, Love Actually Part II (2021). Mixed media. 103 x 73 cm.

COADY, Love Actually Part II (2021). Mixed media. 103 x 73 cm. Courtesy the artist.

COADY
Melbourne Art Fair, Finkelstein Gallery
17–20 February 2022

Melbourne-based painter COADY explores addiction and digital alienation across pill-lathered compositions that render the lure of medication in bright pastel tones framed by sleek metal containers or glossy plastic packaging.

Mixed media works like Fool's Gold (2019), a sleeve of six golden pills, with a few having been ingested, do not preach, or posit solutions, but rather bear witness and attest to the contemporary emphasis on the appearance of wellness over its physical manifestation.

Maringka Baker, Minyma Kutjara Tjukurpa (2018). Synthetic polymer paint on canvas. 150 x 120 cm.

Maringka Baker, Minyma Kutjara Tjukurpa (2018). Synthetic polymer paint on canvas. 150 x 120 cm. Courtesy Vivien Anderson Gallery and Tjungu Palya.

Maringka Baker
Vivien Anderson, 284/290 St Kilda Road
9 February–5 March 2022

Maringka Baker's desertscapes recount sacred stories passed down from Aboriginal spiritual beliefs. The Pitjantjatjara painter's spiritual connection to land is often represented as weaved patterns infused with earthy reds and lush greens.

Baker's survey presentation at Vivien Anderson will include works made in recent years, including synthetic polymer paintings on canvas like Minyma Kutjara Tjukurpa (2018), in which land masses appear as swirling shapes along dotted hills of greens.

Suzanne Corbett, Veridan walls, Chestnuts (2021). Oil on canvas. Tasmanian oak frame. 41 x 30.5 x 1.5 cm.

Suzanne Corbett, Veridan walls, Chestnuts (2021). Oil on canvas. Tasmanian oak frame. 41 x 30.5 x 1.5 cm. Courtesy Discordia Gallery.

Suzanne Corbett: The Artful Appetite
Discordia Gallery, 37 Swanston Street
11 December 2021–19 February 2022

Cook-turned-painter Suzanne Corbett shares her passion for replenishment in The Artful Appetite, where the passage of seasons and the rituals of life are rendered as studies of ripened fruit, shellfish appetisers, and the eerie coasts from which they are gathered.

Set inside a cave, the oil on canvas Veridan walls, Chestnut (2021) depicts an altar offering of scattered chestnuts. An empty wine glass is found on one side, while an orange orb looks over the shrine.

Isaac Julien, O que é um museu? / What is a Museum? (Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvellous Entanglement) (2019).

Isaac Julien, O que é um museu? / What is a Museum? (Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvellous Entanglement) (2019). Courtesy Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.

Isaac Julien: Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvellous Entanglement
Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, 8 Soudan Lane
28 January–26 February 2022

Filmmaker and installation artist Isaac Julien pays homage to Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi in A Marvellous Entanglement, which gathers cultures across geographies using choreographed performances, as an ode to Bardi's contemplations on time as points of return and refraction.

Across photography and a three-screen video installation, an entanglement of performances activated by architectural structures explore the architect's legacy, showing her at various stages in life, through a visual narrative weaving time and space.

Ben Galmirrl Ward, Country (2020). Natural pigment on canvas. 150 x 180 cm.

Ben Galmirrl Ward, Country (2020). Natural pigment on canvas. 150 x 180 cm. Courtesy Waringarri Galmirrl Ward.

Ben Galmirrl Ward
Waringarri Aboriginal Arts, 16 Speargrass Road
17–20 February 2022

Beyond sustained advocacy for land rights and community, Bilbiljing artist and founder of Waringarri Aboriginal Arts, Ben Galmirrl Ward took up painting after a severe car accident in 2011, which prompted him to begin recreating memories of Country.

Ward's landscapes are made from abstract motifs, with dense triangular designs rendered in ochre tones standing in for rivers and mountains. At Melbourne Art Fair, topographical maps like the pigment on canvas BW-5476-20 (2020) can be expected. The abstracted landscape depicts an aerial view made from small triangles with a thin white border delimiting river and land. —[O]

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