With so much art to see around the world, we bring you the one must-see artwork to view this month. From major surveys of an artist’s life’s work to exhibitions that bring a host of creators together, Culture Trip’s Art and Design editor Freire Barnes does the ground work so you don’t have to.
Expect to encounter immersive whirlpools and replica Buddha statues in the NGV Triennial at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). But the knock-out work at the inaugural triennial is undoubtedly Ron Mueck’s epic installation of giant skulls displayed throughout the gallery’s permanent art collection.
The Australian artist, whose previous acclaimed projects include Dead Dad (1996/97), a disconcertingly hyperreal depiction of his deceased father in shrunken model form, and A Girl (2006), an uncanny sculpture of a giant baby, has constructed his biggest ever installation to premiere at the NGV International.
Mass (2016-2017) is inspired by the complexity of the human skull’s biological structure, which Mueck considers ‘beautiful and extraordinary’. The installation is made up of 100 hand-cast skulls each measuring 1.5 metres and collectively weighing over five tonnes. The immediate visual impact brings to mind the human atrocities of war as well as the Parisian catacombs.
Here, Mueck (who famously does not speak about his practice, but rather allows his art to do the work) brings to life the traditions of Dutch still-life and the vanitas painting, which remind us of our mortality.
For this reason, the installation has been placed within NGV International’s historical collections galleries, so as you walk among the installation, feeling dwarfed by both its size and philosophical connotations, you can draw on thematic connections between the paintings and the sculptures.
Once you’ve had your fill of the 100 individual skulls, you can also explore Xu Zhen’s 15-metre-long replica of a reclining Buddha sculpture, Irish artist Richard Mosse’s phenomenal three-channel video about the refugee crisis, a participatory work by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama that invites visitors to cover a purpose-built apartment with flower stickers and teamLab’s immersive digital ‘vortex’ of water that responds to the presence of the audience and their movements.
NGV Triennial is at NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne until April 15, 2018. Free.
Want to see more major art events from around the world? Check out Katharina Grosse’s mega installation at Carriageworks in Sydney.