India’s only daily art newspaper

On ‘Magic, Matter and Memory’: NGV Triennial 2023

Tsuktiben Jamir

Established in 1861, The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is Australia’s oldest and most popular gallery and is known for holding a diverse variety of local and international artists, exhibits, activities, and events, including fashion and design, architecture, music, dance, as well as significant international historic exhibitions. The NGV has the largest collection of artwork within the region, with more than 76,000 pieces collected throughout history representing a diverse range of ideas, disciplines, and artistic styles.

The NGV is all set to hold its triennial event, which as the name suggests, is held every three years. Under the banner of three themes ‘Magic, Matter and Memory,’ the NGV Triennial 2023 will showcase works of 100 artists, designers, and collectives at the vanguard of contemporary practise throughout the world as a compelling and poignant portrait of the world. Upon what to expect from the event, NGV writes, “With more than 25 world-premiere projects commissioned by the NGV especially for this presentation, the NGV Triennial reveals the extraordinary ways in which leading and emerging artists and designers have responded to the most relevant and critical global issues of our time. With many of the works on display entering the NGV Collection, the NGV Triennial establishes a lasting legacy for Victoria that can be accessed for many generations to come.”

Tokyo-based artist Azuma Makoto’s homage to the magical beauty and lifeforce of plants. Courtesy: Australian Arts Review

The event features a versatile range of works in different mediums like painting, robotics, photography, sculpture, artificial intelligence (AI) and fashion. Senior women artists such as the counterculture icon Yoko Ono, UK artist Tracey Emin, Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara artist Betty Muffler, and Hobart-based artist Heather B Swann will also showcase their existing pieces of work as well as new commissions. One of the highlights of the show was the Polish-born artist Agnieszka Pilat’s autonomously painting Boston Dynamics robot dogs, a new level in her oeuvre that has continued to investigate the influence of technology in our society. The dogs were trained to understand a variety of orders, which they carried out in whichever sequence they thought suitable, even down to which way the arm moved, how hard the canvas was pressed, and whether a dot or a line was painted. The show will also feature 14 Australian artists, including Betty Muffler, Timo Hogan, and Prudence Flint among many others, who will present their unique perspectives and talent.

Agnieszka Pilat with her robot dogs Bonnie Spot and Basia Spot at the announcement of the 2023 NGV Triennial exhibition
Courtesy: Arts Hub


Encompassing the three themes of the exhibition, the gallery asserts, “The theme of Magic delves into belief systems, allegory and symbolism, revealing some of the ways that human spirituality has shaped the world around us. Matter draws together nature, materials and making, highlighting the central role that materials and the natural world play in shaping human culture. Finally, Memory shines a light on both the histories of people, places and objects that make up the complex tapestry of our contemporary world.”

The exhibition will include a variety of recently commissioned items as well as already-existing works by both regional as well as worldwide designers and artists, and according to Vogue, “The NGV Triennial will remain a free event for 2023.” This initiative by the NGV to unite artists from different parts of the world to come together and celebrate the arts is a unique opportunity for everyone to learn something new about the refocused goals of today’s numerous creative practises.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *