NGA Contemporary Printmaking

NGA-Contemp-P1110902A Review of the NGA Exhibition: Streetwise: contemporary print culture

The latest exhibition by the National Gallery of Australia in their contemporary exhibition space by the lake is a curious affair. If you are interested in contemporary printmaking, then a visit to this exhibition is recommended.


Their marketing states that: “Streetwise: contemporary print culture is a bold and vibrant exhibition which surveys the last 15 years of exciting Australian printmaking.”


I share with many of my colleagues the distrust of any marketing spin that includes the words ‘bold and vibrant’. And sadly it applies to this exhibition.

While the works on display are interesting with a few being fascinating, the overall feel of the show is very conservative. If this exhibition reflects the ‘streetwise’ of the 21st Century, then there is not a lot of excitement out their in the creative political minds of our contemporary artists.

I am still not sure whether this was because of the curatorial selection or whether it is the state of contemporary printmaking. I am still pondering whether this exhibition reflects the current conservatism in society or are many of the current print makers still working in styles that date from the previous decades.


Bold and vibrant it was not. But – it is still worth a visit.

Take a friend or two and judge for yourselves and then go for a coffee over the road and talk about it (the exhibition not the coffee).

NGA Contemporary: Streetwise: contemporary print culture

till 7 August 2015 – at the NGA’s contemporary space down by Commonwealth Place.
Wed to Sun 10 am – 5 pm – free admission

Recommended: rating 6/10


NEW: A review by Sasha Grishin – 19th June 2015 – click here


Paul Costigan

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