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Seven Immersive and Impressive Art Exhibitions to Visit Around New Zealand This Autumn

From immersive moving Van Gogh artworks to two-storey labyrinths of black wool, here's where you can get your art fix around the country.
By Concrete Playground
April 13, 2021
By Concrete Playground
April 13, 2021


From immersive moving Van Gogh artworks to two-storey labyrinths of black wool, here's where you can get your art fix around the country.

The silly season may be over, but that doesn't mean the country's (or your) cultural calendar is looking too bare. Some of the year's most exciting and immersive art exhibitions have opened their doors across the nation this autumn. Which is particularly exciting, because there are cheap flights aplenty. So, get out your diaries and plan trips to walk over giant Van Gogh artworks, visit a major display of street art and explore a two-storey labyrinth of black wool. We've rounded up the best art exhibitions happening across the country this autumn.

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    Featuring over 300 artworks by 120 Māori artists, Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art will be the largest exhibition in the 132-year history of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.

    Toi Tū Toi Ora celebrates a vast range of contemporary Māori art from the 1950s to present day, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, clay-making, jewellery, photography, digital media, film and installation art. It also presents a number of new site-specific commissions, including collaborative work from wāhine artist collective Mata Aho, painter Emily Karaka, master weavers Matekino Lawless and Christina Wirihana, and contemporary carver Reweti Arapere. A Toi Tū Toi Ora satellite site is also in works for the Britomart precinct.

    Image: Robert Jahnke, Ripeka whero from the Te Ripeka series, 2015, cropped.

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    Chiharu Shiota’s The Web of Time is the fourth site-responsive commission for Te Papa’s Threshold gallery and the first work from the artist to been exhibited in New Zealand. The award-winning Japanese artist is renowned for her intricate ‘drawings in space’ and epic string-heavy installations that take up entire rooms. The Web of Time is a work made from 3750 balls of black wool that leads visitors through winding tunnels into a two-storey high artwork.

    Within the work 1000 numbers are intertwined in thread, suspended in space. Shiota believes numbers act as a universal language and a shared concept of time, with the ability to define, as well as connect people. The immersive installation draws on ideas of the cosmos, human existence and the potential for the future.

    Image: Jack Fisher.

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    After wowing audiences during a sell-out run on Wellington’s waterfront earlier in 2020, one of the world’s most visited multi-sensory experiences is back in New Zealand for a three-part encore season.

    This time, Van Gogh Alive will see more than 3000 of the Dutch master’s works head indoors for experiences in Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland. The large-scale projection experience, which allows visitors to marvel at the genius of the poster boy for post-impressionism, is the brainchild of Melbourne-based Grande Exhibitions, which, for the past 15 years, has hosted immersive exhibitions and gallery experiences in over 140 cities across the world.

    The 45-minute family-friendly experience creates the sensation of walking right into Van Gogh’s paintings. Famous works including The Starry Night and Sunflowers are presented in fine detail using Grande Exhibitions’ state-of-the-art technology combining 40 high-definition projectors, while a classical musical score accompanies the vibrant colours in cinema-quality surround sound.

    Top image: Rebecca McMillan Photography.

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    Built from more than 450,000 bricks and standing at 7.5 metres tall, the replica NASA SLS rocket is just one of the attractions to appear at Brickman Awesome: Epic Lego Creations exhibition.

    The work of epic Lego architect Ryan ‘The Brickman’ McNaught’s was last on show at the Museum in Brickman Wonders of the World in 2018. Brickman Awesome: Epic Lego Creations will be his third exhibition made entirely of the interlocking plastic bricks.

    Almost 40 awe-inspiring creations showcase some of the biggest, fastest and tallest things you can construct out of Lego, including the first life-sized Harley Davidson ever made, and the largest ever Caterpillar 797 dump truck. The models in the exhibition are made from almost two million bricks and took collectively more than 5000 hours to build.

    Image: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira.

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    Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki’s autumn and winter program will showcase some of the greatest contemporary artists of our era. As the Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art exhibition ends in May, artworks in line for The Walters Prize will hit the Gallery floor. Opening Saturday, May 15, the exhibition will showcase outstanding contemporary art from the year preceding the national prize, including works from Fiona Amundsen, Sonya Lacey, Mata Aho Collective and Sriwhana Spong.

    This year marks the tenth iteration of New Zealand’s national art prize. The exhibition — and the announcement of the winner of this renowned award — means The Walters Prize provides an opportunity for all New Zealanders to discover the pulse of contemporary art in the country today.

    Image: Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.

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    Masterpieces from surrealism’s biggest names will land in the capital this autumn and winter, including works from legendary Spanish artist Salvador Dalí. Dalí and the Surrealists arrives by way of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam and will be the largest collection of Surrealist art ever to be shown in New Zealand.

    Highlighting the breadth and richness of Surrealist work through paintings, photography, sculpture, books, prints, design, and film, it will feature a world-class collection from Dalí, plus pieces from Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Leonora Carrington and René Magritte set to shock, provoke, and delight. Visitors will be able to see iconic Surrealist works such as Dalí’s Mae West Lips Sofa, a playful couch shaped as a lush pair of red lips, and René Magritte’s La maison de verre (The glass house) — an uncanny masterpiece in which a man’s face looks out from the back of his head.

    Image: Studio Tromp, Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dali/VEGAP.

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    The first major public museum display of street art collective, TMD Crew, is now on show at The Dowse. The Lower Hutt art museum presents the work of the 21 internationally acclaimed street artists in The Most Dedicated: An Aotearoa Graffiti Story.

    It includes artworks, audio visual displays, interactive elements and nostalgic settings from Aotearoa’s most prolific urban street art crew, as well as a section dedicated to post-graffiti artwork. Across the exhibition there will be supporting events such as art workshops, a mural walking tour and panel discussions.

    Image: Ryze.

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