Five Must-See Solo Presentations at Melbourne Art Fair 2024

The 17th edition will build on Melbourne Art Fair’s reputation to present ambitious works of scale and significance, with a number of galleries presenting solo shows by new and iconic contemporary artists.

Melbourne Art Fair returns in the bookend of the Australian summer, taking place 22 – 25 February 2024 at the Denton Corker Marshall designed Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre to launch the region’s annual arts calendar. Part of the Fair’s allure is its ability to facilitate a deep engagement and exploration of artistic practice through showcasing individual artists, setting itself apart from other fairs in the region.

In anticipation, here are five unmissable solo shows coming to the Fair next year.

Shan Turner-Carroll – COMA

An Australian artist of Burmese descent, Shan Turner-Carroll is deeply fascinated with unearthing tacit knowledge. His practice integrates mediums including photography, sculpture, performance and film, interrogating human and non-human nature, alternative forms of social exchange and interactions between art, artist and viewer: sending and receiving signals. Turner-Carroll sees art-making as ritualistic and transformative, using play, humor and experimentation as key elements within his current practice. His work can sing to snakes, serenade and signal with aliens, and barter with islands, rivers, and oceans.

At the fair next year, Gadigal Country/Sydney-based contemporary art space, COMA, will present a new body of work by Turner-Carroll, supported by a small sculptural incursion. The series of photographs will riff off his previous series, Edge of the Garden.

Turner-Carroll’s work is included in the collections of Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Maitland Regional Art Gallery, Maitland, Australia; The Macquarie Bank Collection; The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia; Curve Gallery, Newcastle, Australia.

Image: Shan Turner-Carroll, Edge of the Garden, Dad, 2020, archival digital ink jet print, 108 x 71.5 cm (unframed), edition of 6. Courtesy the artist and COMA (Gadigal Country/Sydney).


Wanapati Yunupiŋu – Tolarno Galleries

Following Wanapati Yunupiŋu’s stand-out, sellout exhibition in 2022, the Yolŋu artist is set to return to the Fair’s next edition in a solo show with Tolarno Galleries in partnership with Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre. Yunupiŋu creates new dynamic sculptural works that will offer a ‘new landscape’ composed of contemporary interpretations of sacred designs on discarded materials found on homelands.

Through his artistic practice, Yunupiŋu has quickly forged his own style, etching his sacred Gumatj clan designs and narratives into the face of discarded street signs, twisted metal, and aluminium surfaces that litter the landscape. As he pushes into new art territory, dreaming of creating large-scale works, he continues to explore his vision that Australian art is ‘one landscape’ – at once contemporary and Indigenous.

Yunupiŋu lives in the remote Gumatj homeland of Biranybirany, North East Arnhemland in the Northern Territory. He is the son of deceased artist and spiritual leader Miniyawany Yunupiŋu from whom he inherited rich ceremonial instruction.

His works are included in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and the Art Gallery of NSW. Previously, his work as been exhibited at the Seattle Art Museum, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) and Everywhen Artspace in the Mornington Peninsula.

Image: Wanapati Yunupiŋu, Gumatj fire Gurtha Wanapati metal, 2023 Mixed media 91 x 60.5 cm. Courtesy the artist and Tolarno Galleries (Naarm/Melbourne).


Zoë Croggon – Daine Singer

Daine Singer (Naarm/Melbourne) will be showcasing a new series of dynamic, three-dimensional magazine collage works by Naarm-based artist, Zoë Croggon.

Croggon works with sculpture, video, drawing and primarily, collage. Her practice considers the relationship between the kinetic body and its surroundings, contemplating the role we play in our environment and how deeply our surroundings inform the cadence of our lives. The body has long been the focus of Croggon’s work, presenting the trained body and modern architecture as fascinating counterparts; each unyielding, severe, and rigorously functional in form. Created primarily from found photographs, her works study texture, light, and form, examining the possibilities and limits of pictorial abstraction and metamorphosis.

Croggon has exhibited work in solo exhibitions with the NGV, Gertrude Contemporary, Peckham 24 (London), Silver Eye Centre for Photography (Pittsburgh), MPRG, Perth Centre for Photography, Daine Singer and MAF. Additionally, Croggon has won he Maddocks Prize, AGNSW Scholarship at the Cité Paris (2018), ARTAND/Credit Suisse Award, Asia-Pacific Photobook Prize and the ACACIA Award.

Image: Zoë Croggon, Centrefold, 2022, collage of found images and glue on paper, Perspex frame 47.6 x 36.7 x 7 cm (framed). Courtesy the artist and Daine Singer (Naarm/Melbourne).


Howard Arkley – Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art 

Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art (Naarm/Melbourne) will present an exhibition of works by Howard Arkley, one of Australia’s most celebrated artists. Widely recognised for his iconic images of Australian suburbia, the show at Melbourne Art Fair will include works from the 1970s to the 1990s including paintings, sculpture, works on paper and a major installation.

Arkley’s signature houses, domestic interiors and fascination with a vernacular, quotidian experience were produced always in dialogue with his preoccupation with abstraction, patterning and the slide between two and three dimensions. His paintings, painted sculptures and installations collapsed distinctions between abstraction and representation, and questioned certain utopian aspirations – whether it is the suburban dreams of home ownership or the functional design of modernist furniture and architecture.

Arkley’s work has featured in a number of exhibitions throughout his extensive career spanning almost three decades, including his first exhibition in 1975 at Tolarno Galleries titled White Paintings. More recently, his work was featured in an NGV retrospective (2006-2007) and the TarraWarra Museum of Art retrospective, Howard Arkley (and friends…) (2015-2016).

Image: Howard Arkley, Untitled (house), 1999, Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 203 x 153cm. Courtesy the artist and Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art (Naarm/Melbourne).


Ildiko Kovacs and Virginia Leonard – Martin Browne Contemporary 

Combining painting and sculpture, Martin Browne Contemporary will curate two solo presentations by Ildiko Kovacs and Virginia Leonard. Creating a dialogue, the two shows will respond to each other – with gestural and expressive large scale paintings by Kovacs complemented by a large sculptural work by Leonard in the form of a fountain with a recirculating water supply.

Kovacs’ paintings rely on gesture and speak of painting as a physical act that relates to bodily movement. The processes of layering, accumulating and removing paint over time are also central aspects of her practice. Exhibiting since the 1980s, her work has been shown in a number of exhibitions, including The DNA of Colour at the Orange Regional Gallery, Canberra (2019) and Cat’s Cradle at Raft ArtSpace, Alice Springs (2018). Her works are included in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Newcastle Regional Art Gallery, NSW; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Bathurst Regional Gallery, NSW; and various private collections.

Leonard’s emotive and intensely powerful works address her bodily scarring and experiences of chronic pain. The language of the clay-making is an attempt to rid her body of trauma and reduce her level of chronic pain. Clay is visceral, oozy and clumpy. It resembles bodily scarring but is also a precarious medium, which serves as a reminder of the fragility of her body. The Aotearoa/New Zealand-based artist has exhibited internationally, including Design Miami with Mindy Solomon Gallery in the US and the Australian Ceramics Triennale in Alice Springs.


Images: (1) Ildiko Kovacs, Whit Sunday, 2023, oil on plywood, 160 x 244cm. Photograph: Jessica Maurer. (2) Virginia Leonard, I Promise, 2023, clay, lustre and resin, 48.5 x 40cm. Photograph: Sam Hartnett. Images courtesy the artists and Martin Browne Contemporary (Gadigal Country/Sydney).

Melbourne Art Fair returns 22-25 February 2024. Tickets are currently on sale. Click here to secure your pass.

Explore all 2024 Galleries. Shan Turner-Carroll, Edge of the Garden, Nigel 2, 2020, archival digital ink jet print, 108 x 71.5 cm (unframed) edition of 6.