Living With Art: David Griggs

In this edition of ‘Living With Art’, 3:33 Art Projects speaks with David Griggs whose anarchistic approach took on new life in lockdown. His unique blend of portraiture, political imagery and vernacular motifs explore the darker side of the human condition and are often the result of a collaborative spirit, interested in cultures beyond his experience and the personal stories within them. As such it was fortifying to hear that isolation hasn’t dulled his interest in society, its light and shade.

Griggs is celebrated in Australia, his exhibition ‘BETWEEN NATURE AND SIN’ is touring NSW after originating at Campbelltown Arts Centre along with a monograph of the same title. He has an extensive international exhibition history in South East Asia and Europe, recently the artist was commissioned to create two 8.4 metre long paintings for Palais de Tokyo, Paris.  3:33 Art Projects held a survey show of Griggs’ recent work earlier this year as part of our ongoing mission to present leading Australian artists in unique spaces to new audiences with The Clayton Utz Art Partnership. ​

You recently exhibited with 3:33 Art Projects and Clayton Utz, what is unique about the collaboration? 

Germanos, being an avid supporter of artists and their works, who knows his stuff made the collaboration with 3:33 Art Projects a very easy experience for me. With his curatorship mixed in with a stunning architectural space like the Clayton Utz building and a new audience to view the works it all felt calm and like something new.

In the past your work has been influenced by your time in the Philippines, what inspires you in Australia?

To be honest, when I moved back to Sydney two years ago I felt completely at a loss creatively. The adjustment period took me about 12 months. Finally, I found my groove and was able to paint and have something to say. I think a lot of my early struggles in returning to Australia was due to the shock that coffee shops shut at 3.30pm. To feel motivated I hid myself away by reading and reading. Then reconnecting with my skateboarding community here. Now the beautiful absurdity of life in Australia creeps into my works. People inspire me most, picking up on good energies from like-minded passionate people is something I feed off.

How did you stay creative during lockdown and has it altered your work in any way?

When it all started to get heavy with the lockdown stay at home tone I felt so silly to be in the studio working. My instinct was to go be with my family in case all hell broke loose. Then with the media propaganda machine smashing us with a variety of information, one being stay at home and to not visit family or friends. Somehow this forced isolation gave me permission to work. I had just come off the back of ‘Mankini Island’, a large exhibition I held at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery and was between projects. I decided to produce a new series of fourteen paintings ‘The propaganda paintings’ to respond almost in real time to our COVID-19 era. I moved back to figuration overnight, as a people’s virus, I needed people in the paintings. This series kept me very busy, the most important thing was that I had a distraction during this time and simultaneously it gave me a daily sense of accomplishment.

What is the role of art in these exceptional times?

The role of art for me is always a selfish one. The bare bones of the thing, the process, the need to paint what’s around us, the cave painting. Making art is such an existential motion. I guess the personal need is so abstract and ridiculous but yet we keep doing it during exceptional times or banal times.

What’s coming up for you next?

‘The Propaganda Paintings’ series will be part of the 2020 online viewing rooms for the Melbourne Art Fair through Station Gallery, Melbourne – a solo exhibition from 1 to 7 June.

David Griggs, The propaganda paintings (Number Eight), 2020, oil on canvas, 137 x 102cm. Courtesy the artist, Station Gallery, Melbourne

Presented by 3:33 Art Projects
For enquiries contact

QUT Art Museum

Nici Cumpston, Listening to the river, 2005, backlit transparent archival film (lightbox), edition of 5 + 2AP. Courtesy the artist, Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney and QUT Art Museum

QUT Art Museum

‘Rite of Passage’ is a group exhibition curated by Shannon Brett, a descendant of the Wakka Wakka, Butchulla and Gurang Gurang clans, as a response to the significance of the year 2020 – 250 years since James Cook first arrived on our shores.

Reframing the way that we perceive this year in our history, the exhibition showcases the strength of autobiographical work by eleven contemporary Aboriginal artists from across Australia: Glennys Briggs, Megan Cope, Nici Cumpston, Karla Dickens, Julie Gough, Lola Greeno, Leah King-Smith, Jenna Lee, Carol McGregor, Mandy Quadrio, and Judy Watson.

 Take an interactive virtual tour of the exhibition

National Gallery of Australia to re-open on June 2 – Sydney Morning Herald

An excited NGA director Nick Mitzevich said staff members were busily removing covers from works, checking frames and lighting, and dusting before Tuesday’s reopening.

A gallery worker with the art installation Hello which is part of the exhibition Eternity vs Evolution by artist Xu Zhen at the National Art Gallery in Canberra.Credit:AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

“Art has been a salvation for many people in these uncertain times and we know immersion in art and culture will play an important role in bringing our local and national community back together,” Mr Mitzevich said.

“We will of course be ensuring a controlled environment that will safeguard the health and wellbeing of visitors. The gallery experience will be a little different as we work through the next couple of months, but the safety of visitors and minimising the risk of infection is our main priority.”

Mr Mitzevich added that there was a “silver lining” for visitors.

This could be your chance to spend some quality time with Jackson Pollock.Credit:National Gallery of Australia

“You’ll have moments of hopefully absolute focus with works,” he said. “It is very special to be able to have private moments with, say, Jackson Pollock or Emily Kame Kngwarreye or time to look in close at Grace Cossington Smith without any distraction.”

Restrictions on visitor numbers and other measures will be reviewed as advice from the federal and ACT governments changes.

Familiarity and intimacy: ‘Together in Art’

Writing at the start of April about the indefinite closure of the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), in the first instalment of an ambitious project inspired by this almost unprecedented eventuality, Director Michael Brand called for action. At first, he conceded, ‘our initial actions might be quite small in scale but they will set the tone for what will follow as we set out larger and longer-term strategies’. In the two months between the gallery’s closure and its scheduled reopening on 1 June, the elaboration of this project – aptly titled ‘Together in Art – through the contributions of artists, educators, performers, gallery staff and art lovers across Australia has more than fulfilled Brand’s aspiration. As visitors return to the physical space of the gallery, this virtual space of ‘creativity, passion and commitment’ will remain a monumental achievement, offering ‘humour, delight, curiosity, beauty and artistic uplift’ not only to those unable to visit in person, but even to those who spend every day within the gallery’s walls.

Alongside Brand’s heartfelt reflection on ‘the power of art to connect people in times of crisis’, visitors to ‘Together in Art’ can now read short articles on a diverse range of subjects from ‘the shapeshifting foxes, living teakettles and otherworldly beings of Japanese art’, to the social role of self-portraiture in the twenty-first century. We can browse a selection of ‘pocket exhibitions’ featuring key works from the AGNSW collection, brought together in response to themes that reflect the whole spectrum of human experience, from the reassuringly prosaic to the mind-expanding and sublime. Those seeking to discover creativity in confinement can turn for inspiration to new work by artists Mitch Cairns, Tom Carment, Emily Hunt, Jumaadi, Thea Perkins, Tom Polo, Jude Rae, Marikit Santiago and Jelena Telecki, commissioned ‘to create an image of something familiar and intimate – the view from their window’.

Familiarity and intimacy can also be found in a series of instructional videos, offering lessons in the making of collage portraits, shadow projections, flower patterns, toilet-roll dolls, monsters, dada poems, faces and the solution of problems through diagrams. Artists Marian Abboud, Tony Albert, Adrienne Doig, Deborah Kelly, Desmond Lazaro, Nell, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran and Ben Quilty take up Brand’s invitation to ‘speak from the heart’, inviting younger family members to join them in their step-by-step demonstration of projects that have likely brought together many families across Australia. Like the ‘Artist Voice series initiated by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, another Sydney-based institution scheduled to reopen on 16 June, these videos offer a glimpse into artists’ daily lives, dispelling some of the inhibitions that might dissuade those less familiar with the arts from engaging with their work.

As we move into the next phase of our transition into a COVIDSafe Australia, initiatives like these give us some idea of what to expect in a reopened and revitalised arts community. Long before the outbreak of the pandemic and the subsequent closure of museums and galleries across the world, curators, educators and public programs coordinators realised the value of digital platforms. Many had already started to develop online resources and virtual experiences to attract and retain diverse audiences, seeking to entice younger visitors through their doors while fostering new ways of engaging with art outside the bricks-and-mortar gallery. Digital platforms will never completely replicate or replace the experience of seeing a work of art in the flesh, and the ghost exhibitions‘ of Brand’s imagination will soon be filled once again with the invigorating murmur of hushed conversation. These months of solitude and closure have shown beyond a shadow of doubt, however, that this collective search for meaning, our desire to come together in art, extends far beyond the physical space of the gallery.

Dr Alex Burchmore, Publication Manager

Shirley Purdie: Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe

The National Portrait Gallery has launched an online exhibition of Shirley Purdie’s self-portrait Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe to coincide with Reconciliation Week.

In Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe, meaning ‘from my women’, Purdie pays homage to the women in her family, representing herself through collective knowledge, culture and values. Acquired by the Portrait Gallery in September 2019, this non-representational self-portrait is informed by Aboriginal ways of seeing and understanding the world. Each of the 36 panels contains a story, producing a portrait that is an intricate kaleidoscope of personal history, identity and connection to country.

Shirley Purdie, Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe

The expansive work occupies an entire gallery wall. Currently installed in the NPG’s main entrance gallery, this striking artwork is now also available as an online exhibition while the gallery remains closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, and is accompanied by a video of Shirley talking about her life.

National Portrait Gallery
Online exhibition, launched Wednesday 27 May 2020

“Unscheduled” Art Fair to Launch in Hong Kong Next Month – Artforum

A new art fair, “Unscheduled,” featuring presentations from twelve galleries at the Hong Kong nonprofit Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Arts’s Duplex Studio and organized by the Hong Kong Art Gallery Association (HKAGA), will make its debut in June. The fair emerged as a response to the Covid-19-related cancelations and suspensions of art fairs, museum openings, and other cultural events—including Art Basel Hong Kong, which was canceled in February. It will have timed ticketing, a floor plan designed by BEAU Architects to facilitate decentralized traffic flow, and other measures in place to minimize crowding, and will run from June 10 through June 27, 2020.

The fair’s organizing committee, spearheaded by Willem Molesworth of de Sarthe Gallery and Fabio Rossi of Rossi & Rossi, who are also both board members of the Hong Kong Art Gallery Association, tasked independent curator Ying Kwok and artist Sara Wong with leading the independent selection team. Wong has described Unscheduled as something between a fair and a curated exhibition. Only Hong Kong–based galleries presenting solo shows of modern or contemporary art from Asia were eligible to apply.

“Events [like Art Basel] represent a moment, a gathering together of collectors and curators from all over the world, and obviously we’re missing that,” said Rossi. “But that negative moment led to some opportunity, and one of the effects that to me was very special was that the HKAGA was approached by different public spaces in Hong Kong asking, ‘How can we help the galleries? We understand that this is a crisis—or at least a missed opportunity.’”

Molesworth and Rossi also expressed appreciation for the organizers of Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Central who offered advice and guidance as they worked on the event. “They understand that these are challenging times and they need galleries to survive as well. If galleries don’t survive, fairs suffer too. We’re all in the same boat, so they’ve been as supportive as they can be.”

As of this week, Hong Kong’s population of nearly 7.5 million recorded just 1,066 infections and four deaths. Social distancing rules have now been relaxed, although a ban on gatherings of more than eight people has been extended to June 4.

The proceeds from ticket sales will be split between the participating galleries and the local charity partner Hands On Hong Kong. The full list of participants is as follows:

10 Chancery Lane, Hong Kong

Ben Brown Fine Arts, London and Hong Kong

Contemporary by Angela Li, Hong Kong

de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong

Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong

Hanart TZ Gallery, Hong Kong

Kwai Fung Hin Art Gallery, Hong Kong

L+ / Lucie Chang Fine Arts, Hong Kong

Leo Gallery, Hong Kong

Over the Influence, Hong Kong

Pearl Lam Gallery, Hong Kong

Rossi & Rossi, London

Whitestone Gallery, Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, Karuizawa, Ginzu


Biennale of Sydney to Resume at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in June – Artforum

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Australia has announced that it is preparing to welcome visitors back to the institution, following a temporary closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, on Tuesday, June 16. The museum, which was forced to move the twenty-second edition of the Biennale of Sydney, titled “NIRIN,” online only a little more than a week after it opened, will extend the run of the physical exhibition.

“We know many people have been enjoying the digital programs that the MCA and the Biennale put online while the museum has been closed, and now they will have a chance to see it for real,” said museum director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor. She added that the safety of visitors and staff is of paramount importance and that the institution will implement “enhanced health, hygiene, and safety measures,” including installing additional handwashing and sanitizing stations and social-distancing markers so that museumgoers know the appropriate distance that should be maintained between guests.

In a review of the biennial, which was led by artistic director Brook Andrew, for the 2020 May/June issue of Artforum, critic Anthony Byrt wrote: “What was so brutally unfair about the Covid-19-induced suspension of ‘NIRIN’ . . . is that, for those few days it was open, it skewered many of our worst excesses. Without a whiff of tokenism, Andrew foregrounded Indigenous knowledge systems to emphasize the existential truth industrialized modernity has fought so hard, and failed, to overturn: that, despite all our efforts, we are not in control of the future of our planet or, for that matter, the pathways of our own lives.”


Art galleries a picture of caution as lockdown restrictions ease – Sydney Morning Herald

An NGV spokeswoman would only say their date of reopening would be announced “in due course” – in the meantime they are “working closely with Creative Victoria to ensure appropriate public health and physical distancing measures are put in place to ensure the safety of our staff and visitors upon reopening”.

It is more than simply opening the doors: galleries have to work out how they will manage queues, how to move visitors through the building so distancing rules are not breached, and how they can ensure staff are protected.

On the weekend, Premier Daniel Andrews announced that from one minute before midnight on May 31, public galleries will be allowed to reopen. They would have to apply physical distancing of one person per four square metres, have a limit of 20 patrons per “space”, and record contact details for all visitors.

From June 22, the limit lifts to 50 people – however physical distancing would remain.

Jessica Bridgfoot, director of the Bendigo Art Gallery, said they were working towards reopening on the June 6 long weekend – anticipating that as hotels and motels reopen, regional tourism will start to pick up. Their two exhibitions on show have barely been seen – one opened just a day before lockdown, and the other has only been viewed online.

“Bendigo is a weekend destination, and we are as always keen to support the region’s tourism economy,” Ms Bridgfoot said.

They are deploying additional cleaning, social distancing signage and markers, and will closely monitor visitor numbers.

“Technically, a gallery is an extremely safe place to be, because there’s actually no reason to touch anything,” Ms Bridgfoot said. “You’re not static, you’re on the move, and you can walk the whole length of the building and experience all our exhibitions without touching anything with your hands – it’s really just your feet on the ground.”

ACCA, however, currently sits empty and its next exhibition, a sound-and-performance installation by Frances Barrett called Meatus, is not due to open until September.

Artistic director Max Delany said the gallery had, once lockdown hit, planned a six month closure so they didn’t commit to exhibitions that would then be cancelled. Instead they focused on a suite of digital projects.

“We will of course review what we have planned in the gallery space, but feel confident that reopening in September is still the best way forward,” Delany said.

Several commercial galleries in Melbourne have already reopened, with reduced hours and limited visitor numbers, including This Is No Fantasy in Fitzroy, Station Gallery in South Yarra and MARS in Windsor.

However, Tolarno Gallery in Exhibition Street, which is on the fourth floor, is affected by government guidelines allowing only two people in a lift – and is not yet open.

Director Jan Minchin said: “we’re still thinking about how to manage the practical side of things, we don’t want visitors queueing and having to wait in the cold”.

Most Viewed in Culture


Defining Moments: Australian Exhibition Histories 1968–1999 – Announcements – E-Flux
Instagram / Facebook / #accamelbourne / #definingmomentsacca

ACCA’s two-year lecture series Defining Moments: Australian Exhibition Histories 1968–1999 will this year be presented as illustrated video lectures online.  

Designed to shed light on markers of change in Australian art from the last three decades of the twentieth century, Defining Moments focused last year on key exhibitions and projects from the late 1960s and ’70s. This year the series will explore new institutional models and contemporary modes of exhibition-making that emerged in the 1980s and 90s—including the Asia Pacific Triennial and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, as well as exhibitions and projects led by First Nations artists and curators in Australia and internationally, among others.

In 2020, the series will be presented online as podcasts and video lectures to expand the national and international reach of this ambitious and rich historical project, beginning with an exploration of the National Gallery of Victoria’s 1982 exhibition Popism, by independent writer and researcher Judy Annear. Curated by a then 24-year-old Paul Taylor, editor and publisher of the influential contemporary art publication Art & Text, the exhibition was a provocative and rhetorical manifesto for a new generation, including Howard Arkley, David Chesworth, Juan Davila, Maria Kozic and Jenny Watson, among others. 

Judy Annear’s lecture will be available on May 25, and will be followed in July with Recession art and other strategies, a lecture by artist and former director of Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art Peter Cripps, based on the IMA exhibition of the same name that he curated in 1985, in response to the social, political and cultural contexts of the times.

“The series takes a deeper look at exhibitions and projects that have shaped Australian art since 1968—ambitious, contested, polemical, genre-defining and genre-defying projects that have informed and transformed the cultural landscape, along with our understanding of what constitutes art itself,” said ACCA’s Artistic Director/CEO Max Delany. “Presented by some of Australia’s leading artists, curators and academics, we are pleased to launch the series as digital lectures, more widely accessible to national and international audiences.” 

Defining Moments: Australian Exhibition Histories 1968–1999 is presented in association with Abercrombie & Kent, and Research Partner Centre of Visual Art (CoVA) at the University of Melbourne; and supported by Media Partners Art Guide Australia, The Saturday Paper and Triple R; and Event Partners the Melbourne Gin Company, Capi and City of Melbourne. Each lecture will be accompanied by a bespoke cocktail recipe, created by the Melbourne Gin Company.

Monday, May 25
Popism, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1982
Speaker: Judy Annear, independent writer and researcher

Monday, July 13
Recession art and other strategies, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, 1985
Speaker: Peter Cripps, artist and a former Director of the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (1984–86)
Respondent: Channon Goodwin, Director of Bus Projects and Composite: Moving Image Agency, Melbourne, and founding Co-Convener of All Conference

Monday, July 27
The Aboriginal Memorial, Biennale of Sydney, 1988
Speaker: Djon Mundine, OAM, curator, writer, artist and activist

Monday, August 24
First Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 1993
Speaker: Doug Hall, AM, writer, critic and a former Director of Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (1987–2007)

Monday, September 21
Aratjara: art of the first Australians, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, 1993 and Fluent: Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Yvonne Koolmatrie, Judy Watson, Australian Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 1997
Speaker: Stephen Gilchrist, writer, curator and Associate Lecturer of Indigenous Art at the University of Sydney

Monday, October 5
Don’t Leave Me This Way: Art in the Age of AIDS, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 1994
Speaker: Dr Ted Gott, Senior Curator of International Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; and curator of Don’t Leave Me This Way: Art in the Age of AIDS

Monday, October 26
Founding of “Gallery 4A” and the inaugural exhibition in 1997
Speaker: Mikala Tai, Director 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

For further information and podcasts from the 2019 series, visit

Tai Snaith | A World of One’s Own


Tai Snaith | A World of One’s Own

Artist Tai Snaith has conducted a series of conversations with mid-career and emerging women and non-binary artists whom she admires. These relaxed, colloquial exchanges explore shifts and similarities that artists face in their lives and artistic practices. Together, they attempt to break down the how and why of making art. They look at physical processes and how they relate, not only to outcomes but also connect to the unconscious or non-visual parallels and needs in our lives.