Closed for the summer break

Tolarno Galleries is now closed and will return in February 2021.

The exhibition program opens on Saturday 13 February 2021 with Justine Varga’s Tachisme, part of the PHOTO 2021 festival of international photography.

Between April and October 2020, during two Melbourne lockdowns, the Tolarno Galleries exhibition program moved completely online. Thank you to the artists, collectors and audience for making the leap with us.

If you missed any of the exhibitions at the time, visit them here:

Judy Watson memory scars, dreams and gardens
Judy Watson Cyanotypes
Andrew Browne Shoegazer
Amos Gebhardt Night Horse
Tim Johnson Parallel Universe
Peter Atkins  TV WEEK 1980-1985
Danie Mellor The Sun Also Sets
Brent Harris Peaks
Benjamin Armstrong Under the Southern Sky
Bill Henson On Beauty
Amos Gebhardt Evanescence
Justine Varga Tachisme (five works)
Brent Harris 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres

Image: Justine Varga Aggregate 2018-19. Chromogenic photograph 151.5 x 120.7 cm (framed size), edition of 5 + 2 AP


Christmas Wishlist

A 2020 Christmas Wishlist of inspiring artworks by:

Brook Andrew, Brendan Huntley, Ben Quilty, Bill HensonTim JohnsonBrent Harris and Dan Moynihan.

Click here to view.

Image: BROOK ANDREW Shifted Time 2020, mixed media on Belgian linen, 150 x 127 cm


Judy Watson in the media

Judy Watson’s exhibition memory scars, dreams and gardens continues at Tolarno Galleries until 12 December.

Listen back to Judy Watson interviewed by Namila Benson on ABC RN The Art Show.

Read Tiarney Miekus’ review in The Age.

And Kerrie O’Brien’s interview in The Age.

If visiting the gallery in Melbourne is not an option, the Judy Watson Online Viewing Space is open.

Find details of all the available works, installation images and catalogue essay by Katina Davidson, A/Curator, Indigenous Australian Art, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art.


Gallery reopening on 13 November with Judy Watson

Tolarno Galleries will reopen to the public from 10am Friday 13 November with a limited number of visitors allowed into the exhibition in accordance with Victorian Government guidelines.
Regular opening hours resume, Tuesday to Friday 10am – 5 pm, Saturday 1pm – 4pm.

The gallery reopens with a new exhibition:

memory scars, dreams and gardens
13 November to 12 December 2020
Click to download the roomsheet or the catalogue essay by Katina Davidson.

A new urgency is present in Judy Watson’s memory scars, dreams and gardens… With matrilineal Waanyi ancestry, Watson’s artistic practice is centred in truth telling and ever informed by the archives that she mines. As observed by senior curator Hetti Perkins in a recent conversation with Judy Watson, her practice is “deeply personal, observational” and holds “simultaneously expression of the global ‘big picture’ and personal ‘small picture’”.
In the case of this body of work, the sentiment rings true. Rather than facing back into history – including researching evidence of massacres, and identifying historic cultural objects held in the bowels of overseas institutions – this body of work is rooted in her observations of the present. In Watson’s words, the works embody:

what I have seen
what I have done
where I have been
what I have made

Image: Judy Watson memory scar, cotton tree leaf, grass, brachychiton illawarra flame tree pods 2020, indigo, acrylic, graphite, pigment and acrylic binder medium on canvas, 180 x 148.5 cm


Andrew Browne ‘Shoegazer’

Online Viewing Space

Shoegazer, a diverse group of drawings made by Andrew Browne during the extended Melbourne COVID-19 lockdown, is a playful allusion to that sub-genre of indie rock, Shoegaze, but more so to the attention one pays to subjects and prompts found close at hand… almost underfoot. These somewhat introspective images are tender and intuitive encounters with observation, composition and mood.

Since the 1980s Melbourne-based Andrew Browne has established an unmistakable body of work across painting, drawing, photogravure, intaglio and lithography. Using photography as a tool, he investigates the phenomena of illumination, the poetics of the nocturne and the everyday.

His new series of drawings continues a decades’ long interest in landscape and natural phenomena, though one alienated and surreal. An uneasy tension exists within his images of organic growth and the detritus of human existence.

Image: ANDREW BROWNE Shoegazer (vacant lot) 2020, pencil on Moulin Du Gue paper, image size 37.5 x 26 cm, paper size: 76 x 56.5 cm


Amos Gebhardt

Night Horse
Online Viewing Space
13 October – 7 November 2020

Night Horse examines the powerful currents between horses as they negotiate consent and desire during mating season. The viewer is drawn inside the kinetic swirl of the herd where hooves, flicking tails, and outstretched limbs offer an intimate encounter across the species divide. Shot in the heat of a February summer’s night, on the artist’s birthday, the charged atmosphere is palpable. The photography series revisits themes explored in the video installation Lovers which premiered at the 2018 Adelaide Biennial.

Amos Gebhardt says, “The images are raw, showing the mess of body fluids and muscle, giving vivid dimensions to the physical language of the body as an archive of story, to suggest a dramatic arc in horse terms.”

Image: Amos Gebhardt Gravity archival inkjet pigment print, 122 x 146 cm, edition of 5 + 2 AP


Sydney Contemporary presents 2020


Tolarno Galleries is pleased to participate in Sydney Contemporary presents 2020 with five new works created in 2020 by A&A, Brook Andrew, Andrew Browne, Amos Gebhardt and Ben Quilty.


Pictured: Ben Quilty The Last Day 2020, oil on linen, 180 x 202 cm


Tim Johnson

Parallel Universe
Online Viewing Space
11 September to 3 October 2020

Watch the exhibition video featuring Tim Johnson in a rare glimpse inside the studio with curator-at-large Tony Magnusson.

If a painting is a portal to another dimension, then the canvases of Tim Johnson are magic carpets, each one an invitation to embark on a voyage through the acclaimed Sydney-based artist’s personal cosmology. Revealing his sustained interest in Buddhism and other Eastern traditions, these serenely composed constellations of figures, objects and symbols inhabit an exalted space free from everyday concerns.

Johnson’s first show in five years with Tolarno Galleries, which has represented him since 1987, ‘Parallel Universe’ brings together 12 new paintings, five of them made in collaboration with Daniel Bogunovic, a self-taught artist who lives in LA.

Our thanks to Thirdrow Films.


Congratulations to A&A – Adam Goodrum and Arthur Seigneur on their shortlisting for the prestigious Dezeen Awards 2020 in the furniture design category. The nomination is for Exquisite Corpse, their debut collection of three works – a tallboy, credenza and console, with each bold and innovatively designed piece finished with thousands of individual, hand-dyed strands of straw. Exquisite Corpse premiered at Tolarno Galleries in March as part of Melbourne Design Week.

Coming soon! In October, Tolarno Galleries will present a new A&A tallboy for the Sydney Contemporary ‘presents 2020’ online event.

Photograph by Victoria Zschommler.


Peter Atkins

TV Week 1980-1985
Online Viewing Space
26 August to 23 September 2020

A new series of small abstract paintings by Peter Atkins, playing on cultural memories of small screen heroes and villains from the 1980s.

TV Week 1980-1985 attempts to locate pure monochromatic colour within the specific era of the early to mid-1980s. The pastel blues and pinks along with the quintessentially ’80s fluorescent greens and yellows remind us that colour can transport us into another time and emotional space.
The sensational headline ‘Why Jack Thompson Posed Nude’ coupled with the evocative ’Inside Kamahl’s Sydney Mansion’ was the first work in the series which came from the cover of a magazine picked up in a flea market and led into the entire project as more and more magazines were sourced online.
It appeared that each magazine had increasingly more ridiculous headlines, and titles such as ‘Jamie Redfern – Liberace Was Like A Father to Me’ and ‘New Sexy Rolf Harris’ take on a different meaning, adding a somewhat sinister tone, especially when viewed through the lens of history. It’s almost impossible to look back at these magazines with their lurid headlines and storylines and not marvel at the apparent innocence of the 1980s, especially when viewed from the world’s current context.” – Peter Atkins, Melbourne, August 2020

Image: Peter Atkins’ 2019 TV Week series of paintings in his Melbourne studio. Acrylic on board, each painting 28 x 21 cm, 51.5 x 41.5 cm framed.


Amos Gebhardt

Congratulations to Amos Gebhardt who is a finalist in the 2020 William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize for the glorious ensemble Family portrait.

The photograph is  from the series Small acts of resistance, an expansive new moving image work created through the inaugural South Australian Film Corporation and SALA Festival Artist in Residence commission, premiering at Samstag Museum of Art, South Australia in October 2020.

Image: AMOS GEBHARDT Family portrait 2020, archival inkjet pigment print, 110 x 170cm, from the series Small acts of resistance 2020.


Danie Mellor ‘The Sun Also Sets’ exhibition – online now

Online Viewing Space
Danie Mellor
The Sun Also Sets
7 August to 5 September 2020

Tolarno Galleries is pleased to present a short film to accompany the new exhibition by Danie Mellor. Watch it in the online viewing space or via YouTube.

From his studio in Bowral, NSW, Danie Mellor talks about The Sun Also Sets with Tyson Yunkaporta (Apalech Clan, Cape York), a Melbourne-based writer and senior lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges at Deakin University. Our thanks to Thirdrow Films.

Hear more from Danie in interviews with:
ABC RN The Drawing Room
Art Guide

Read the exhibition review at Memo Review


Brent Harris – four new works

Tolarno Galleries is very pleased to present a suite of four new Brent Harris works in the Online Viewing Space in July 2020, direct from the studio.

Brent says, “These paintings have been worked on during the COVID-19 lockdowns. But really my studio practice is quite the same, as with most artists, we are used to working in isolation. The subjects of these panoramic pictures originates in the personal, before hopefully taking on relevance for the individual viewer.”

These previously unseen new works include two paintings, and two related works on paper. Click to enter the viewing room.

Image:  Brent Harris Imaginary Brother 2020, oil on linen, 92 x 73 cm


Craig Reucassel and Ben Quilty in conversation about ‘2020’

Craig Reucassel (The Chaser, The War on Waste) visits Ben Quilty in the studio for a closer look at the new painting, ‘2020’.

Watch  Craig Reucassel and Ben Quilty in conversation.

2020 2020
oil on linen
4 panels, overall 202 x 890 cm


Ben Quilty | 2020

Asked recently how he was spending his time during lockdown, Ben Quilty said he was working on a massive painting entitled 2020 ‘which is about the end of humanity as we know it and that is screaming off the wall.’

It depicts ‘a single figure lying on a table, a self-portrait about the way I feel, the way world politics is derailing a healthy future.’*

Screaming off the wall, 2020 reveals how the Black Summer fires and Coronavirus – back-to-back disasters – impacted on his making of one painting, turning what had begun as ‘notes on chaos’ into a monstrous and powerful portrayal of anger and suffering.

Watch Ben Quilty in the studio with 2020

*Nick Galvin, Kerrie O’Brien and Chloe Wolifson, Portraits of the artists in IsolationThe Sydney Morning Herald, May 29, 2020.


Benjamin Armstrong | ‘Under the Southern Sky’ | online now

Benjamin Armstrong has eschewed paint for ink in a number of his works over the years. His first exhibition at Tolarno Galleries in 2007 included sets of linocuts printed in metallic pigments on hand dyed paper, framed under etched glass. A few years later, he showed Chinese ink and watercolour pictures.

Now there are large linocuts printed onto stretched polyester and his studio doubles as a showroom for this online exhibition. Under the Southern Sky comprises eight works. The images, as Quentin Sprague observes in his catalogue essay: Contact Images, are “Australian in character… not the quasi-mythical construction embodied by notions of ‘mateship’ and a ‘fair go’, but the more foundational character imparted upon us by this country’s history, by the shockwaves of colonisation.”

The compositions are partly inspired by tales of first contact – in particular, Bruce Pascoe’s story telling in Cape Otway: Coast of Secrets (co-authored with Lyn Harwood in 1997). Delving into the past, Benjamin Armstrong, in this powerful and captivating series, offers his imaginative take on the story of ‘first contact.’ It’s a very distinctive reading of cross-cultural junctures that leads into highly nuanced works. Chameleon pigments shift and change like shot silk; colours alter miraculously as light plays over their surfaces. “This is history as magic realism.”

View online now.

Image: Benjamin Armstrong Inception I 2020. Linocut, pigments & binder on polyester, 133 x 102 x 3.5 cm


Bill Henson | Three new works, just released from the studio


“We should remind ourselves, from time to time, that despite what goes on in the world, the best in art always recommends the truth and its sometimes complex and ambiguous nature. As Plato said ‘beauty is the splendor of truth.’ ” – Bill Henson, 1 May 2020

Visit the online viewing space to see three new works from Bill Henson.

Image: Bill Henson Untitled 2010-20 RC SH47 N32C (2010–20), archival inkjet pigment print, 127 x 180 cm (paper size)


Amos Gebhardt | ‘Evanescence’ | online now

Our online program continues with a new feature highlighting the distinctive voice of Amos Gebhardt and focusing on one project: Evanescence an expansive, ambitious video originally shown at the 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Divided Worlds at Art Gallery of South Australia, and a photography series. These works are available for the first time. Click here for all the details, online until 28 May 2020.

“…while our eyes are trained to focus on the human form, sustained viewing of ‘Evanescence’ reveals an anti-hierarchical treatment of the bodies and the landscapes. The human forms are reduced in the composition, a tactic that disrupts the Anthropocentric belief in our significance. How small we are against the immensity of time, and of the natural world.” – Joanna Kitto, Associate Curator at Samstag Museum.

Image: Amos Gebhardt Evanescence 2018, 4 channel, 4K video installation with multi-channel sound, 34 minutes (loop). Installation shot by Saul Steed, courtesy 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Divided Worlds, Art Gallery of South Australia.


Justine Varga | ‘Tachisme’ | online now

Known for her luminous photographs, some made with a camera and some without (and some made with a combination of the two), Justine Varga premieres a new body of work available to view online in the Tolarno Galleries Viewing Space until 9 May.

Tachisme ruptures any clear distinction between photography and painting. The negatives from which these photographs derive were smeared and stained with pigment during their long exposures. When these negatives are then printed from, at large-scale in the darkroom, the latent inscriptions are revealed to intermingle with the distinctive signature of the artist’s fingertips, a trace of touching that is generally forbidden in the production of photographs.

Justine Varga has always seen her photography in these terms, as a drawing with light, or more literally as a light-sensitive substrate on which she makes marks or allows the world to leave its own marks. These photographs are therefore the making visible of an art practice that is at once physical and chemical, autobiographical and contingent, painterly and photographic. In doing so, Tachisme asks viewers to reflect on the activity of decipherment in relation to photographs, making this exhibition a critical rumination on inscription, meaning and knowledge.

…an art that is abject and yet strangely alluring. Infectious in every sense of the word, once seen, Justine Varga’s photographs are stains that cannot be removed from the mind’s eye, and for that very reason powerfully embody the anxieties and uncertainties that pervade our present moment. – Andrés Mario Zervigón, Professor of the History of Photography at Rutgers University, USA.

Read more about Justine Varga in the Issue 49 Artist Profile cover story in 2019.

Image: Justine Varga Visage (2018-19). Chromogenic photograph, 146.2 x 111.5 cm (image size) / 161.2 x 122.5 cm (image including borders), edition of 5 + 2 AP


Brent Harris at 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art


On view from 29 February at Art Gallery of South Australia is the 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres curated by Leigh Robb.

Click here to view available Brent Harris works from Monster Theatres.

The exhibition features a large body of work by Brent Harris, including ten of Harris’ iconic Grotesquerie paintings and premiering several new paintings and prints including more (pictured).

Leigh Robb says, ‘Monsters ask us to interrogate our relationships with each other, the environment and technology. They force us to question our empathy towards difference across race, gender, sexuality and spirituality’.

2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres, 29 February – 8 June 2020. [Temporarily closed, check for updates].

Image: Brent Harris more 2019, oil on linen , 244 x 175 cm


Spread Art Not Viruses

#spreadartnotviruses is a creative campaign by Charlie Xiao, collector, curator and instigator, in response to the impact of coronavirus COVID-19.

Originally from Beijing, China, in September 2019 the now Melbourne-based Xiao acquired Colony – the whole-of-gallery sculpture installation of viruses and bacteria by Christopher Langton, with plans to exhibit the work in China.

Through Colony, Xiao met Theodore Wohng, the founder of ZOME AR, whose office is just metres from Tolarno Galleries on Melbourne’s Exhibition Street. In collaboration with Wohng and Langton, Xiao has now instigated #spreadartnotviruses as an open invitation to artists, writers and other creative minds to contribute to the movement online via Instagram and ZOME AR.

Inspired by the eerily prescient Colony – a hyperreal manifestation of Christopher Langton’s own experiences of life-threatening disease and infection – #spreadartnotviruses intends to show solidarity with those affected in Wuhan and around the world.

Together, artists can support those who are affected by the virus and turn the negative experiences into something positive.

Read more on the #spreadartnotviruses project from March 2020 in:

Sydney Morning Herald 
CBD News


Tolarno Galleries presents A&A at Melbourne Design Week 2020


Tolarno Galleries is pleased to announce participation in Melbourne Design Week 2020, an initiative of the Victorian Government in collaboration with the National Gallery of Victoria, 12 – 22 March 2020.

A&A is the collaboration of two practitioners from completely different disciplines and cultures: Australian industrial designer Adam Goodrum (Rigg Design Prize winner 2015) and straw marquetry artisan Arthur Seigneur, a French émigré and one of an estimated 25 practitioners globally who maintain the 17th Century practice of straw marquetry.

A&A Exquisite Corpse / Cadavre Exquis is their debut solo exhibition premiering three new unique pieces: Talleo, a tallboy; Archant, a console; and Longbow, a credenza.

‘Exquisite Corpse’, the Surrealist parlour game, describes A&A’s process: Goodrum initiates the shape and pattern, and Seigneur finishes the works with hand-dyed straw in custom hues, and labour-intensive by-hand marquetry technique.

Read more at Wallpaper* magazine here and here, Australian Financial Review magazine, Art Guide, The Design Files, Vogue Living, Australian Design Review and AFR Life & Leisure. Not to mention Russian Architecture Digest and Newstrotteur France!

Exquisite Corpse / Cadavre Exquis is on view from 12–27 March 2020, by appointment.


Ben Quilty lunchtime talk

Tolarno Galleries will host a special lunchtime talk by Ben Quilty entitled The Ferals from 12.30pm-1.30pm Wednesday 19 February 2020.

Quilty will discuss his latest body of work, 150 Years, with particular focus on the major new multi-panel work 150 Year, Rorschach.

Ben Quilty 150 Years exhibition is on view at Tolarno Galleries until 29 February 2020.

Please RSVP to to register your attendance.


Ben Quilty – book signing and ‘150 Years’ exhibition opening

We are pleased to announce that between 1pm and 2pm, prior to the 150 Years exhibition opening on Saturday 8 February, Ben Quilty will be available for a book signing in the gallery.

Neighbourhood Books will be selling copies of the recent hardback book, Ben Quilty, celebrating two decades of his work.

Read more about the exhibition in The Age.

Through Quilty’s ominous and heterogeneous approach in 150 Years each work invites us to participate in a critical discussion. The same Quilty who explored the spiritual hollowness of contemporary masculinity in paintings of passed-out mates is present here, yet these themes are refracted through the decades since, through experience, a global and pervasive uncertainty, and a tangible level of disillusionment. In an age of authoritarian revival, Quilty’s decades-long interrogation of masculinity is gaining momentum. – Milena Stojanovska

Ben Quilty 150 Years is on view 8 – 29 February 2020.