Lonely Planet Writer

Be surrounded by giant skulls at this Melbourne gallery

The inaugural NGV Triennial, a large-scale exhibition at Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria has opened, featuring a gigantic collection of work from over 100 artists, designers and architects from 32 countries around the world. Debuting in December and running until 15 April, the exhibition has already proven compelling with visitors, and includes an interactive display by Japan’s Yayoi Kusama and a room filled with giant human skulls.

Installation view of Mass by Ron Mueck, 2017 on display at NGV Triennial at NGV International, 2017
Installation view of Mass by Ron Mueck, 2017 on display at NGV Triennial at NGV International, 2017. Image by Tom Ross

Due to occur every three years and featuring established, mid-career and emerging artists, the NGV Triennial aims to present diverse work from varied fields, including 3D printing, robotics, installation, fashion design, film, painting, sculpture and performance. The National Gallery of Victoria has also commissioned twenty new large-scale artworks as part of the exhibition.

Exhibition image of visitors inside Yayoi Kusama Flower Obsession 2017 on display in NGV Triennial at NGV International 2017
Exhibition image of visitors inside Yayoi Kusama Flower Obsession 2017 on display in NGV Triennial at NGV International 2017. Image by Eugene Hyland

One of the most talked-about inclusions so far has been a sculptural installation by Australian-born artist Ron Mueck called Mass. Taking inspiration from the biological structure of the human skull, the project sees 100 hand cast sculptures being placed around the historical collection galleries of NGV International, evoking macabre scenes of mass resting places such as the famous Paris catacombs. Elsewhere in the gallery, Yayoi Kusama’s Flower Obsession presents visitors with a furnished domestic space and invites them to apply red flower motifs to the walls, furniture and objects. Over the duration of the exhibition, the proliferation of flowers will transform the space into a unique environment.

Installation view of Xu ZhenEternity-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, Othryadesthe Spartan Dying, the Fall of Icarus, A River, Milo of Croton2016–17on display at NGV Triennial at NGV International, 2017
Installation view of Xu ZhenEternity-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, Othryadesthe Spartan Dying, the Fall of Icarus, A River, Milo of Croton2016–17on display at NGV Triennial at NGV International, 2017. Image by John Gollings

‘We believe that the ambition, depth and diversity of the artists and designers in the inaugural NGV Triennial will ensure our audience has a truly unforgettable cultural experience. This exhibition offers an unprecedented opportunity to build the NGV’s collection of contemporary art and design, and we hope the NGV Triennial will become a critical and ongoing asset for Victoria,’ said Tony Ellwood, Director of NGV.

Installation view of Sissel Tolaas The FEAR of [SmellScape Melbourne] 2017 on display in NGV Triennial at NGV International 2017
Installation view of Sissel Tolaas The FEAR of [SmellScape Melbourne] 2017 on display in NGV Triennial at NGV International 2017. Image by Eugene Hyland

Other pieces at the NGV Triennial include a 15.8 metre-long sculpture of a reclining Buddha adorned with 3D scanned and cast replicas of classical Greco-Roman, Neoclassical and Renaissance sculptures by Chinese artist Xu Chen and a “smell landscape” installation based on Melbourne by Sissel Tolaas composed of twenty unique fragrances designed to stimulate stories in the minds of visitors.

NGV Triennial is free to visit. More information is available at the official website.