A Blockbuster Fairy Tales Exhibition Is Taking Over Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art in 2023

If you like art and eye-catching exhibitions, next year is going to be huge in Brisbane — here's the full 2023 rundown.
Sarah Ward
Published on October 21, 2022

They're the stories we all lapped up as kids, telling us about enchanted creatures, magic and more. They're behind plenty of movies that still grace our screens, too. And, they're the focus of a huge Australian-exclusive exhibition coming to Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in the summer of 2023–24. Yes, we're talking about fairy tales.

The just-announced showcase is indeed called Fairy Tales and, taking over GOMA's entire ground floor, it'll explore how these folklore-, myth- and legend-related narratives have fascinated audiences through art and culture over not just years and decades, but centuries. If creepy woods have influenced sculptures, or tales of princes and princesses have inspired painters, expect to see it here, in a blockbuster showcase that'll run from December 2, 2023–April 28, 2024.

Yayoi Kusama

Also included: everything from drawings and installations through to fashion, as well as films and filmic elements, such as props, and costumes. GOMA hasn't unveiled an accompanying movie program in its Australian Cinematheque just yet, but you likely don't need to wish for that to happen — just wait for further details late next year.

Wicked witches, magic animals (fierce and friendly alike), coming-of-age tales, shifting gender roles, bravery, loyalty, castles, coaches, pumpkins — they'll all feature in some way. Artists involved include GOMA favourites Yayoi Kusama and Patricia Piccinini, plus Jana Sterbak, Kiki Smith, Abdul Abdullah, Ron Mueck and Charles Blackman. The list goes on, like breadcrumb trails.

And, if you like huge site-specific installations, the South Brisbane gallery has commissioned something special from Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira. He'll transform the building's architecture into a sure-to-be-stunning gnarled and twisted woodland (a sure-to-be-snapped piece, too, naturally).

H Walker

GOMA and the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG), its sibling venue at South Bank, have also dropped their full 2023 lineups, with Fairy Tales among a feast of art that Brisbanites — and culture-loving, gallery-attending visitors to Brisbane — can look forward to. The already-announced Air exhibition kicks off at GOMA in November 2022 and runs through till April 2023, and follows on from Water back in 2019 and 2020.

Or, there's Michael Zavros: The Favourite, showcasing 90-plus paintings, sculptures, videos, photos and performances by the Queensland artist — and eX de Medici: Beautiful Wickedness, an extensive retrospective (the most extensive to date) about the Canberra-based artist. They'll both head to GOMA as well.

And, Gone Fishing will draw pieces from the gallery's Indigenous Australian Art collection, including fibre sculptures, paintings, prints and installation, to ponder traditional sea rights, plus freshwater and saltwater fishing practices.

Michael Zavros / Australia b.1974 / V12/Narcissus 2009 / Oil painting on board / 20 x 29.5 x 2cm / Collection: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Gift of the artist 2013. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program / Image courtesy: Michael Zavros / © Michael Zavros.

Over at QAG, Living Patterns will examine contemporary abstraction, forming one of the venue's major exhibitions. The list of artists contributing new and recent works there is also impressive; think: Paul Bai, Helen Johnson, Lindy Lee, Dhuwarrwarr Marika, Reko Rennie, Hossein Valamanesh, Jemima Wyman and more.

QAG will also survey landscape and marine paintings by 19th-century artist Isaac Walter Jenner; explore Indigenous Australian artistic practice from the north to north-west of southeast Queensland to the top end of Western Australia; showcase the exchange enjoyed between Australian and Filipino artists in the 90s and 00s; and serve up a big focus on self-portraiture, including musing on selfie culture.

Prepare to spend most of 2023 in Brisbane's two major art galleries, clearly.

David Griggs / Australia/The Philippines b.1975 / Frog boy's dissertation into a new karaoke cult 2008 / Synthetic polymer paint on sewn canvas with aluminium frame, wood and medium density fibreboard, rope and projected DVD: 34.54 minutes, colour, silent, 730 x 860 x 620cm (installed); tent wall: 286 x 2520cm / Purchased 2008 with funds from the Queensland Government's Gallery of Modern Art Acquisitions Fund and with the assistance of the Melbourne Art Fair Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © David Griggs.


Air at GOMA — November 26, 2022–April 23, 2023
North by North-West at QAG — February 11, 2023—March 2, 2025
Lies, Magicians and Blind Faith at QAG — March 4–July 30, 2023
Looking Out, Looking In: Exploring the Self-Portrait at QAG — March 11–August 6, 2023
Gone Fishing at GOMA — May 20, 2023—January 21, 2024
Michael Zavros: The Favourite at GOMA — June 24–October 2, 2023
eX de Medici: Beautiful Wickedness at GOMA — June 24–October 2, 2023
Isaac Walter Jenner at QAG — September 2, 2023—January 28, 2024
Living Patterns: Abstraction at QAG — September 23, 2023–February 4, 2024
Fairy Tales at GOMA — December 2, 2023–April 28, 2024

Fairy Tales displays at Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art, Stanley Place, South Brisbane from December 2, 2023–April 28, 2024. For further details — or to find out more about the gallery's full 2023 slate — visit its website.

Top image: Henrique Oliveira / Brazil b.1973 / Baitogogo 2013 / Palais de Tokyo, Paris / Plywood and tree branches / 6740 x 1179 x 2076cm / Courtesy SAM Art Projects, Galerie GP&N Vallois, Galeria Millan / © Henrique Oliveira / Photograph: André Morin / This work is indicative of a new commission by Henrique Oliveira for the exhibition 'Fairy Tales' at QAGOMA.

Published on October 21, 2022 by Sarah Ward
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