The 10 Exhibitions You Need To See In 2019

Mark your diaries for this year’s unmissable artistic showcases.

By Danielle Pinkus


Mark your diaries for this year’s unmissable artistic showcases.

By Danielle Pinkus

American artist, Nick Cave is well-known in the art word for Soundsuits, a series of artworks that are instantly recognisable. Think abstracted full-body, wearable sculptures sourced largely from flea markets and created in response to the Rodney King beating and 1992 LA riots. Cave’s latest work Until, addresses the deaths of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and issues of gun violence, race relations, and gender politics in America, through maximalist scale. Cave’s Carriageworks installation is his largest and most ambitious project to date. Comprised of thousands of found objects, Until creates a sense of stepping into a visually chaotic sense of play to complex issues.

Now – March 3, 2019 Carriageworks 245 Wilson Street Eveleigh, New South Wales

TarraWarra Museum of Art is currently showing Patricia Piccinini’s otherworldly pieces in a four-month-long exhibition alongside works from the late Australian modernist artist Joy Hester, considered one of Piccinini’s key influences. Patricia Piccinini and Joy Hester: Through love… draws visitors into Piccinini’s distinctively weird and wonderful blurred lines between what is considered human and animal while exploring the connection between the two artists. Visitors to the exhibit follow the evolution of Australian art from Hester’s period with brush and ink on paper through to Piccinini’s sculptures, videos, photographs, and sketches. With over 50 pieces on display, the exhibition is the first time these artists have been showcased together.

November 24, 2018 – March 11, 2019 TarraWarra Museum of Art 313 Healesville-Yarra Glen Rd Healesville, Victoria

Escher X Nendo’s Between Two Worlds is the first exhibition in the world to showcase the extraordinary work of Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher in dialogue with acclaimed Japanese design studio Nendo, led by designer Oki Sato. The exhibition seamlessly presents one of the 20th century’s most recognisable artists with one of 21st century’s most innovative and inventive designers. More than 150 of Escher’s familiar drawings from the collection of Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, are presented in an immersive exhibition space designed by Nendo, alongside never-before-seen work from the design studio.

Now – April 7, 2019 National Gallery of Victoria: International 180 St Kilda Road Melbourne, Victoria

More than 40 of the Tate Britain’s most beloved works have been brought to the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, for major exhibition. Focusing on Pre-Raphaelite artistic movement that started in 1848. Included in the outstanding collection are iconic pieces such as John Everett Millais’ Ophelia and John William Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott. Pre-Raphaelite artists often worked collaboratively on meticulously detailed, colourful and layered compositions. The rebellious movement drew inspiration from the great love stories of history and literature, the tempestuousness of lustful entanglements, and the wonder of religious icons. Love and Desire exhibition is supported by an additional 40 works loaned from other British and Australian collections.

Now – April 22, 2019 National Gallery of Australia Parkes Pl E Parkes, ACT

The Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Art Gallery ambitious APT series returns to Brisbane this year. Taking place every three years since 1993, the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art brings significant art from across the Asia Pacific to Brisbane. More than 400 colourful, thought-provoking works are exhibiting in this free contemporary art exhibition, by 80 artists, collectives and group projects from Asia, the Pacific and Australia (representing over 30 countries). Alongside the exhibition are three film programs, eight hands-on activities for kids and five months of ongoing programs and special events, including daily guided tours. Highlights include, Gary Carsley’s Purple Reign jacaranda garden which is blooming in the gallery for the next five months, leading Chinese artist Qiu Zhijie’s installation and Singapore-based artists Donna Ong and Robert Zhao Renhui landscape filled with artificial plants.

November 24- April 28, 2020 GOMA, Stanley Pl, South Brisbane

Body Remembers is the first Victorian show of Moffatt’s photographic series, Body Remembers, and video work, Vigil. Moffatt produced these pieces for the 57th Venice Biennale when she represented Australia. In Body Remembers, she draws on her personal experiences to explain broader experiences of colonisation while Vigil cuts together footage from the 2010 Christmas Island asylum seeker boat capsizing tragedy with images from iconic Hollywood imagery. These pieces by Moffatt fracture myths around the Australian experience.

March 23 – May 19, 2019 TarraWarra Museum of Art 313 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road Healesville, Victoria

The National 2019: New Australian is a partnership exhibition drawing together the best of contemporary Australian arts and artists across ANGSW, Carriageworks and the MCA. An incredible and extensive line-up of artists’ works is a six-year initiative over three editions in 2017, 2019 and 2021, representing a curated mix of emerging, mid-career and established artists drawn from around the country and Australian artists practicing overseas. New and commissioned works cover a wide range of mediums including painting, video, sculpture, installation, drawing and performance, across three of Sydney’s key cultural landmarks.

March 29 – June 23, 2019 (AGNSW March 29 – July 21, 2019) Art Gallery of New South Wales Art Gallery Road, Sydney, New South Wales

This year’s NGV Winter Masterpiece series doubles down on Chinese culture. Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality will present one of the world’s most astounding archaeological discoveries the Terracotta Warriors. Uncovered in 1974 in Shaanxi province, the sculptures were created during the Qin dynasty (221-207 BCE). Eight of the warriors will be exhibited alongside precious artifacts from the period between the Zhou and Han dynasties. The NGV will coincide this showcase with an installation work from contemporary Chinese Cai Guo-Qiang. The installation comprises of 10,000 suspended porcelain birds, arranged to create an impression of a calligraphic drawing of Mount Li – home to the terracotta warriors stand.

May 24 – October 13, 2019 National Gallery of Victoria: International 180 St Kilda Road Melbourne, Victoria

Australian artist and social commentator Ben Quilty has been delivering urgent visions of our world through vivid, richly worked and often turbulent paintings for most of this century. This exhibition traces the arc of his work and measures his influences and inspirations – from his early reflections on initiation rituals performed by young Australian men through to his experience as an official war artist in Afghanistan; his campaign to save the lives of Bali Nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran; his visits to Lebanon, Lesbos and Serbia with author Richard Flanagan and his intimate portraits his family and his friends. Curated in close consultation with the artist, Quilty presents a portrait of a socially engaged artist, a critical citizen, who wields paint to draw attention to our responsibility as human beings in an increasingly fraught world.

November 9 2019 – 2 Feb 2020 Art Gallery of New South Wales Art Gallery Rd, Sydney NSW 2000

The rivalry between Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso is one of the most important stories of modern art, and the subject of the NGA’s major exhibition this year, Matisse/Picasso. Drawn from some 40 important international collections, Matisse/Picasso shows how these two pioneers of Modern Art both shared the need to confront the challenges set by the paintings of Paul Cézanne and mined each other’s work to enhance their own.

December 13, 2019 – April 13, 2020 National Gallery of Australia Parkes Place East