Direct from the 2015 Venice Biennale, the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) presents Fiona Hall’s Wrong Way Time – providing Australian audiences with the first opportunity to see this major international event at home.
The celebrated new Australian Pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale, attracted global attention when it opened in May 2015. Fiona Hall became the first artist to represent Australia in the new building with her exhibition, Wrong Way Time.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for art lovers from all over Australia to share the Venice phenomenon and see one of our most important and influential artists,” said Gerard Vaughan, NGA Director. “This is the first time that the Australian exhibition at Venice has been shown in its entirety at a public gallery and we are delighted it’s here in Canberra.”
Curated by Linda Michael, Wrong Way Time presents more than 800 objects in one space, installed in huge cabinets filled with curiosities. Around the walls are clocks painted with diverse imagery and slogans which tick and chime in a cycle reminding viewers that time is passing.
The Venice exhibition is complemented by a collection of Fiona Hall’s works mainly from the NGA collection curated by Senior Curator of Australian Art, Deborah Hart. Visitors can see Hall’s earlier work including the much-loved erotic sardine-tin sculptures, Paradisus terrestris 1989–90 and her magnificent installation Leaf litter 1999–2003. Fiona broke new ground in 1998, when she designed the NGA’s superb Fern garden. The garden has been refurbished and is visible from the exhibition’s foyer.
“The world is such an amazing place, yet sadly we are living in troubled times and that sense is reflected in a lot of the works,’ said Fiona Hall. “It was an honour to present the show in Venice and now to bring it to Canberra, especially as I have a long standing relationship with the NGA,” said Fiona Hall.
Hall’s lifelong passion for the natural environment can be felt intensely in both spaces. The artist brings together hundreds of disparate elements which create tensions around three intersecting concerns: global politics, world finances and the environment. Hall sees these as failed states, as ‘a minefield of madness, badness and sadness’ stretching beyond the foreseeable future.
“Fiona Hall’s work responds to her concerns around our persistent role in nature’s demise, or to the perilous state of various species,” said Dr Hart. “However, I also believe that, notwithstanding a prevalent darkness, Hall’s exhibition is fundamentally life-affirming,” said Dr Hart.
Fiona Hall is one of Australia’s most influential and interesting artists with a career spanning more than four decades and the NGA has long recognised her importance. Starting with photography in the 1970s her work quickly transitioned to a diverse range of art forms and she rapidly received critical acclaim as a leading Australian contemporary artist with a repertoire including sculpture, painting, installation, garden design and film.
Her engaging works often draw upon the relationship between nature and culture and involve themes of ecology, history and the effects of globalisation. The tension between beauty and complexity, darkness and light in her work has very broad appeal so it is no surprise that Fiona’s work is represented in every major public art collection in Australia.
Established in 1895, the Venice Biennale is the world’s oldest and most prestigious biennale of international contemporary art. Australia’s representation at the biennale began in 1954, and the Australia Council for the Arts owns the Australian Pavilion and manages Australia’s participation at this major event. Fiona Hall’s Wrong Way Time exhibition was commissioned by Simon Mordant (Australia’s Commissioner for the 2015 Venice Biennale), and supported by the Australia Council.
Fiona Hall: Wrong Way Time
National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes (Canberra)
Exhibition continues to 10 July 2016
For more information, visit: www.nga.gov.au for details.
Image: Fiona Hall, Where the wind blows 2015 (detail) Australian Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2015 (installation view) gouache on banknotes; 74 parts on loan from the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney – photo by Christian Corte © Fiona Hall