Fiona Hall is one of Australia’s most accomplished, innovative and individual artists and has been selected to represent Australia at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. Fiona Hall has worked across a range of art forms: from sculpture, painting and installation to video work, public commissions and horticulture.
Her work is remarkable for its meticulousness and beauty, and for its transformation of everyday, inconsequential items – aluminium cans, paper, plastic, soap and other detritus – into objects of exquisite beauty and historical and contemporary resonance.
Hall’s overriding interest is the complex relationship between humans and the natural world, and her works have variously addressed colonialism, consumerism, globalisation, natural history and the environment – important issues yet ones that are engaged with in always alluring, alchemical form.
Veneer, Hall’s most recent series, is perhaps the most urgent of her works in its forewarning of the dire consequences of our continued destruction of the natural world. Comprising a series of paintings on tapa (or barkcloth), Veneer depicts a murky, dystopian world – an apocalyptic wasteland strewn with felled trees and human skulls. Yet despite the magnitude of the devastation, the paintings are compelling rather than heavy handed, infused with the very materiality – wood, bark, earth, fire, ash and smoke – of the environment they depict.
Skulls – a recurring symbol in Hall’s work – abound in Veneer, where they line up ghoulishly as if in a mass grave, merge with the rings of cut-down trees, or dissolve into the works’ wood-grain painted surface. The implication is clear: rampant environmental destruction leads to death.
—Claire Armstrong, June 2014
In 2015 Fiona Hall will represent Australia at the 56th Venice Biennale. In 2013, a major survey exhibition, Big Game Hunting, was held at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne (curated by Kendrah Morgan). She has been included in many other important group exhibitions and biennales over the past two decades. These include dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany 2012, The Biennale of Sydney (2000 and 2010); The Third Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2009); DeOverkant/Downunder, Den Haag Sculpture, Netherlands (2007); Prism: Contemporary Australian Art at the Bridgestone Museum, Tokyo (2006); Fieldwork: Australian Art 1968 – 2002 at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2002); and Perspecta at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (1997). A retrospective of Fiona Hall’s work was held by Queensland Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of South Australia in 2005 and in 2008 the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney held a survey exhibition of her work, Fiona Hall: Force Field, which toured to the City Gallery in Wellington New Zealand. Fiona Hall’s work has been collected in depth by all the major Australian museums. Hall was awarded an Order of Australia (AO) in 2013 for her distinguished service to the visual arts, and in 2012, Hall was awarded the Australia Council’s highest honour, the Visual Arts Laureate Award. Fiona Hall has been represented by Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery since 1995.