Brisbane's must-see art exhibitions - Visit Brisbane

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Brisbane's must-see art exhibitions

Brisbane’s art scene is on fire, offering a year-round calendar of big exhibitions at the major galleries, and smaller niche ones at the boutique art spots around town. Whether you’re looking to reflect and browse through the work of an established local artist, or be inspired by some of the cutting-edge international contemporary art, have a read below to find out what’s on right now. 

QAGOMA

James Turrell: Night Life 2018

Permanent

At dusk, the Gallery of Modern Art turns into a captivating light installation that illuminates the Brisbane night sky along the bank of the Brisbane River. Commissioned in 2017 to mark the 10th anniversary of the Gallery of Modern Art, James Turrell’s Night Life 2018 ignites different coloured panels that compliment the architectural design of the gallery from within the building. Running from sunset to midnight everyday, these blocks of light challenge the viewer and play with perception, engaging the inquisitive mind to examine how we are affected by light. We recommend taking in this installation after work, wander down and have a picnic dinner, listen to some tunes and enjoy bathing in the glow. 

Quilty

Until 30 October 

Get excited for the layered experience of the exhibition Quilty at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). Ben Quilty is an Australian artist who has won the Doug Moran National Portrait prize in 2009 and the Archibald prize in 2011. This exhibition features 70 works depicting the artist's revisions of the Australian landscape, intimate self-portraits and works inspired by visits to Lebanon, Syria and Greece. His work is vibrant and loud, tapping into raw emotions and exploring the human condition.     

Australian Art Collection

Permanent 

The Queensland Art Gallery has spent over 120 years establishing and building the Australian Art Collection. This collection is comprised of local and indigenous artists from different time periods and cultures that specifically focus on themes of geography, country and identity. These key pieces explore the artists environment while revealing a network of connections to their stories of traversal and encounter, of immigration, colonisation and the expatriate experience.   

Indigenous Australian Art Collection: Namatjira Story 

Permanent

This exhibition showcases work from Albert Namatjira a Western Arrernete-speaking artist from the MacDonnell Ranges, west of Alice Springs in Central Australia.  A pioneer of contemporary Indigenous Australian art in the 1950's, Namatjira landscape painting style is different from traditional Aboriginal art. He adopts bold colours and approaches his landscapes with a western-style. Hanging alongside his works in this exhibition are the paintings by those he influenced, creating a strong narrative of his work and story as an artist. 

International Art Collection

Permanent 

From the influence of Japanese art on French Modernism to the representation of daily life, the display explores rich dialogues across time and between cultures, punctuated with contemporary works that engage with these themes and histories. 

Brisbane Powerhouse 

Brisbane Powerhouse in New Farm

Visual arts at the Brisbane Powerhouse

The walls of the Powerhouse throughout the year become a gallery space for artwork from local and international artists. A calendar highlight out of the rotating body of work is the World Press Photo Exhibition held annually. This exhibit showcases the world’s most compelling, controversial and intimate moments, as captured by award-winning photojournalists, press photographers, and documentary photographers from 125 countries, submitting 73,044 images.

State Library of Queensland

State Library of Queensland

Overwintering

Until 31 October 2019 | Free

Twitches this one is for you. This exhibition showcase features the artists' book Overwintering, a collaborative project where artists were invited to map a personal response to the richness of their local shorebird habitat. Including stunning images, flight and migrations patterns about an assortment of feathered friends from robins to curlews to egrets. 

Queensland Museum and Sciencentre

NASA - A Human Adventure

15 March - 9 October 2019

Celebrate all things space and NASA with this amazing exhibition that journeys through humankind's exploration of space. Discover the history of rocket science and space flight and learn about some of the most extraordinary accomplishments in space technology.

Museum of Brisbane

New Woman

13 September - 15 March 2020

This exhibition represents a snapshot of Brisbane women artists over the past 100 years. It depicts their personal stories and exemplifies the enduring legacy that these women have created for the Brisbane art scene.  Experience this uniquely curated exhibition of paintings, photography, sculpture, performance and installation works by artists such as Tracey Moffit, Margaret Cilento, Judy Watson, Courtney Coombs and more.

High Rotation

30 August - 19 April

Love music? High Rotation delves into the songs, stories and images of Brisbane's killer music scene exploring everything from the fans through to producers and labels. Follow the journey of some of Brisbane's most successful and influential musicians and experience what makes their music so popular and unique. Don't fret and play this one by ear, make sure you check it out before it closes in April 2020. 

Institute of Modern Art

Institute of Modern Art

Presence 

31 August - 26 October

Presences is an evolving and changing instillation by Brisbane-based First Nations artist Robert Andrew revealing an internal core that references Aboriginal histories, stories and connections. His work plays with new physical landscapes combining programmable technology, technological machinery with string, earth pigments, ochres, rocks and soil. 

Mitchell Fine Art 

Mitchell Art Gallery

This gallery showcases a selection of Australia's leading Aboriginal and contemporary artists work. With a new exhibition every month, you will be able to visit again and again and discover the amazing talent the Australian art-world has on offer.  Check out the 2019 exhibition calendar here

Brisbane Street Art Festival

4 - 19 May 2019| Artwork up all year | Free


Over the past three years Brisbane Street Art Festival has connected hundreds of multidisciplinary artists, showcasing the work of local, national and international street artists.

For more art exhibitions across Brisbane, use our events calendar to see what else is on.

Museum of Brisbane

Life in Irons: Brisbane's Convict Stories

Until 28 October 2018 | Free

Back in 1824 life was unrelentingly harsh for the 3,000 men and women imprisoned as convicts here until the penal colony’s closure in 1839. This also irrevocably changed the life of the Aboriginal peoples on whose Country the colony was built. This exhibition offers a rare chance to view some of the few remaining official documents from the Brisbane penal colony.

100% Brisbane

Until 30 June 2019 | Free

We are pulling back the layers of our city, going beneath the surface of high rises and the jacaranda trees to discover the very real heart of Brisbane’s story. You. Me. And everyone in between. This landmark exhibition also invites you to have your say and contribute to this incredible self-portrait of the city. 100% Brisbane will not only change the way you think about museums, it will change the way you think about Brisbane.

Coming soon

The Designers' Guide: Easton Pearson Archive

23 November 2018 - 22 April 2019

Australia’s fashion storytellers, Pamela Easton and Lydia Pearson, took a unique approach to fashion, referencing art, travel, film, literature, music and emotions to design and craft a bold aesthetic withdaring patterns, innovative materials, meticulous techniques and a sustainable ethos. For the first major exhibition from the Easton Pearson Archive (donated in 2017 by Dr Paul Eliadis, a Brisbane-based philanthropist and arts patron), Museum of Brisbane asked Pam and Lydia to select the designs they felt highlighted the greatest innovations of their design practice and to share the stories behind the evolution of each garment. Expect to see the garments displayed on more than 60 forms along with lookbooks, sketches and more.

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