NGA reveals its ‘ambitious’ 2020 season

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Patricia Piccinini standing inside Skywhale.

SKYWHALE will meet a new family member next year in “Skywhalepapa” at the National Gallery of Australia, where director Nick Mitzevich unveiled the 2020 season this morning (November 20).

A new hyperreal sculpture by contemporary Australian artist Patricia Piccinini, “Skywhalepapa” is intended as a companion piece to ”Skywhale”.

“Together”, the gallery says, “they form a Skywhale family, which will be reunited over Canberra in 2020, before floating across the skies of Australia as a National Gallery travelling exhibition.”

From Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers”, 1888, the National Gallery will present a dynamic program with a renewed commitment to women artists at its heart.

Mitzevich said next year promises to be a defining year in the National Gallery’s history, beginning with an ambitious program of exhibitions and events aimed at elevating Australian women artists, and concluding with the largest group of works to travel outside of the United Kingdom from the National Gallery in London.

The art of Australian women, spanning two decades, will be seen in exhibitions such as “Know My Name: Australian Women Artists 1900 to Now”, “The Body Electric”, a large-scale installation by the Tjanpi Desert Weavers, “In Muva We Trust”, Club Ate’s digital project and Piccinini’s anticipated new work “Skywhalepapa”, commissioned as part of the Balnaves Contemporary Series.

“The art we present explores universal themes of intimacy, belonging, colonisation and culture. These works provide an enduring connection to our past, a way to make sense of the present and a roadmap to help us create a more inclusive future,” Mitzevich said.

In March, he said, the first solo exhibition in Australia by Xu Zhen, one of China’s most significant artists and activists will go on display, showcasing his sculptural installations, video and performance works that challenge cultural assumptions and question social taboos.

Then in September, “First Peoples’ Art of Australia: from the Wesfarmers Collection and the National Gallery of Australia” will go on display at the National Gallery of Singapore before beginning a tour of China the following year.

And next year’s big blockbuster, normally a secret until later in the year?

That would be “Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, London”, which will open in November 2020 and present more than 60 works by some of Europe’s most revered , including Rembrandt’s “Self-portrait at the age of 34”, 1640, Vermeer’s “A young woman seated at a virginal”, c 1670, and Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers”, 1888.


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Helen Musa
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