Exhibition review: Portrait23: Identity, NPG

Gina Fairley, ArtsHub, March 16, 2023

Punching through the constraints of the genre, ‘Portrait23: Identity’ is an ambitious and challenging exhibition.

The role of material in shifting perception
The ideal of ‘the new’ is mapped out across a range of mediums that posit this exhibition as fresh, different, while maintaining integrity, with particular note given to the inclusion of performance, textiles and video.
The exhibition is perfectly nuanced across its breadth, with works by Tarryn Gill, Julie Gough, Amrita Hepi, Angelica Mesiti and Vipoo Srivilasa, for example, which are emphatically individual, and yet, when collectively choreographed, lead the viewer through a connected journey of consideration.
That is perhaps best demonstrated across this thread of works: Gill’s large-scale suspended textile sculpture Limber hovers in the space – an abstracted self-portrait in plump bronzy-gold fabric that speaks to her other pursuit of being a gymnast, and a woman who understands her body at peak of physical fitness. For many it will be a challenging ‘portrait’.
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