With works by over thirty Australian and international artists, the Air exhibit at Queensland’s Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) is an incredibly thought-provoking exploration of the atmosphere around us. Air is a constant presence and a necessity for life, but it can also be dangerous – and now, it’s rapidly warming as climate change worsens.
So, how do you represent something as intangible as air in an artwork?
From Tomás Saraceno, Drift: A cosmic web of thermodynamic rhythms (2022) forms a canopy of giant air-filled spheres that drift and sway, refracting the light and imagining the possibility of sun-powered flight. Meanwhile, Dora Budor evokes prehistoric landscapes with environmental chambers that feature small volcanoes, puffing out clouds of pigment into the air. These meditations on atmosphere reflect the past and the future of the earth’s airspace, reminding us of just how drastically it can change.
Journey through the invisible, ethereal and vital element of air.
Elsewhere in the exhibit, air is linked inextricably with life as Jamie North’s Portal (2022) presents twin columns of industrial ruins reclaimed by native plants. The process of converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, a process we need to live, is explored further in Katie Paterson and Lloyd Rees’ works around trees, while Rei Naito memorialises humanity through the air we have all shared – both with those living today, and those who have passed on.
Air also takes on themes of change, invisibility, and burning, leading visitors through a contemplative collection that forces us to reconsider something we rarely notice: the air that we breathe, feel, and exhale into. With the exhibit closing on April 23, now’s the time to book tickets to wander through QAGOMA’s fascinating exploration of our atmosphere, so visit their website here to book yours.
If you liked this article, you might like our feature about the David Hockey exhibit currently on show in London.