Beneath the Surface, Behind the Scenes

Heide-Berna-Reale-Palomo-2012Presented from 29 July to 22 October 2023, Heide Museum of Modern Art will bring into dialogue a selection of significant works by contemporary Latin American and Australian artists.

The exhibition, Beneath the Surface, Behind the Scenes explores the ways that art can take our imaginations beyond the limitations of the known world and the veil of visual appearances.

Beneath the Surface, Behind the Scenes considers art as a generative force and complex form of language, investigation and theatre.

Artists in the exhibition embrace instability, and recognise forms of erasure and new realms of possibility, critically engaging with unacknowledged or difficult histories, as well as impacts on our changing society and natural environments.

From Latin America, highlights include the work of Ecuadorian artist Estefanía Peñafiel Loaiza, whose installation Figurantes (Extras) explores the ways in which individuals are defined and dehumanised within larger social and institutional systems.

Featuring newspaper extracts from across the globe, the artist has painstakingly erased anonymous individuals that have been incidentally pictured in leading news stories, before transferring the remains of the images into a series of numbered glass vials.

Brazilian artist Berna Reale’s moving image work Palomo sees the artist as a foreboding authoritarian figure, mounted on an iridescent, red-painted horse and riding through the streets of Belém do Pará, Brazil.

Combining aspects of public demonstration, activist street theatre and poetic resistance, the film engages with historic and contemporary acts of violence and institutional misuse of power, especially within the criminal justice system.

Peruvian artist Ximena Garrido-Lecca’s large-scale woven copper wall sculpture La Red III (Network III) recalls Indigenous Peruvian textile traditions, tracing fields of tension between Peru’s ancestral knowledge and the new demands of industrialisation.

In the series, Colour is My Business, Venezuelan artist Alexander Apóstol explores the complex dynamics of contemporary Venezuela. The artist presents photographs of architectural models awash with chromatic light, the gradations of colour referencing the ambiguities between the various ideological positions of the key political parties that comprised Venezuela’s democratic era from 1958 to 1998.

From Australia, highlights include Lauren Brincat’s site specific installation Backstage, comprised of a selection of paint-splattered fabric drop cloths and floor coverings carefully arranged to create navigable spaces for audiences to interact with.

The cloths have previously been used by artists and museum installers in the preparation of artworks and exhibitions, with the work inviting audiences to think about how we mentally prepare for and rehearse social encounters.

Gunditjmara and Djabwurrung artist Hayley Millar-Baker presents her series of intricate collages titled Even if the race is fated to disappear (Peeneeyt meerreeng / Before, now, tomorrow), which combine photographs taken by both the artist and her grandfather and explore the places that have played an important part in her family’s experiences.

Cast from a diverse range of materials including the coral residue, calcium carbonate, Nicholas Mangan’s large-scale sculpture Sarcophagi acts as a memorial for the lost and threatened corals of the Great Barrier Reef. The work addresses both the ongoing impacts of colonialism and humanity’s fraught relationship with the natural environment.

“An exciting display of important, socially critical and searching work by Latin American and Australian artists, many of which have not been exhibited publicly in Australia, Beneath the Surface, Behind the Scenes encourages dynamic cross-cultural conversations between the artists and with the audience,” said Heide Museum of Modern Art Senior Curator, Melissa Keys.

“We are proud to be able to bring together artists with distinctive practices from a diverse range of backgrounds in order to offer new and imaginative perspectives on intertwining local and universal themes.”

Participating artists include: Alexander Apóstol (Venezuela), Tatiana Blass (Brazil), Lauren Brincat (Australia), Christian Capurro (Australia), Elena Damiani (Peru), Marlon de Azambuja (Brazil), Matías Duville (Argentina), Gloria Sebastián Fierro (Colombia), Ximena Garrido-Lecca (Peru), Arturo Hernández Alcázar (Mexico) Nadia Hernández (Venezuela/Australia), André Komatsu (Brazil), Liliana Porter (Argentina), Marilá Dardot, (Brazil), Nicholas Mangan (Australia), Jorge Magyaroff (Colombia), Hayley Millar-Baker, Gunditjmara/Djabwurrung (Australia) Estefanía Peñafiel Loaiza (Ecuador/France), Berna Reale (Brazil) and Steven Rendall (Australia).

Beneath the Surface, Behind the Scenes
Heide Museum of Modern Art, 7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen
Exhibition: 29 July to 22 October 2023
Entry fees apply

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Berna Reale, Palomo, 2012 (still), video, © the artist – courtesy of the artist and Galeria Nara Roesler – São Paulo