The flagship event of Melbourne Art Week, during which time more than 50 cultural organisations, institutions, art spaces, satellite fairs and galleries come together to survey the state of contemporary art in Australia and abroad, is undoubtedly the Melbourne Art Fair.

The event returns this year with a new venue in the Southbank Arts Precinct, as well as being staged across two venues alongside the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) and the University of Melbourne Southbank Campus. Now in its 30th year, the Fair showcases the wares of 40 galleries presenting the works of some of the exciting artists, both established and emerging, from Australia, New Zealand and the wider region.

Like any art fair, the Melbourne Art Fair is a great way to gain a crash course into the state of affairs at Australia’s top galleries, and to gain exposure into the work of artists and artworks worth investing in now. If you’re ready to start collecting art in earnest, advice is readily available here. Research is key when it comes to collecting so start with the gallery above, wherein Maree Di Pasquale, Director of the Melbourne Art Fair, gives GRAZIA an insight in to the work of six emerging artists exhibiting their work as part of next month’s event.

Matt Arbuckle, Tim Melville (Auckland)
Matt Arbuckle is a New Zealander who lives in Melbourne. Arbuckle draws on landscape and photography in works of painting and drawing that are predominantly abstract and ultimately concerned with formalist issues of space, composition and mark-marking. Tim Melville presents a solo show at Melbourne Art Fair, Vault Hall, stand C8.

Pierre Mukeba, Gagprojects (Adelaide)
Pierre Mukeba is a raw talent and definitely one to watch. Stunning for their simplicity and scale, his works provide a window into the daily life of his native home of Central Africa. Mukeba was born in the shadows of civil war in Bukavu in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. At an early age he, along with his family, was forced to flee to a refugee camp in Zambia under the presidency of Robert Mugabe, and in 2006 the family were granted residency in Adelaide. Deliberately restricting his palette to three colours, red (war and power), blue (piety and sincerity) and yellow (happiness and joy), Mukeba acts as a direct conduit between experience and his paintings. A must see at this year’s Melbourne Art Fair, Vault Hall, Stand C6.

Virginia Leonard, PAULNACHE (Gisborne)
Virginia Leonard’s focus is working with clay and her work is a response to the broken parts of her body. Although beautiful colour-filled vessels, they are actually self-portraits that address her bodily scarring and chronic pain. Virginia’s work will be presented as a solo show with PAULNACHE (Gisborne), Vault Hall, Stand C3.

Ann Debono, Sutton Gallery (Melbourne)
Ann Debono is a recent graduate from Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. Her paintings meld realism with abstraction to explore the condition of an image as it stands in relation to the visible world. This will be Ann’s first time exhibiting within an art fair context, presented by Sutton Gallery (Melbourne), Vault Hall, Stand B4.

Elizabeth Willing, Tolarno Galleries (Melbourne)
Elizabeth Willing’s work sits between art and design, using food culture and foodstuffs as her inspiration. Her work is risky and ambitious, both in its conceptual ideas and the materials she uses, combining experiential and performance aspects with sculpture, collage, video and installation. At Melbourne Art Fair, she will present the project Strawberry Thief with elements including wallpaper print, collage, sculpture and a cocktail performance called Anxiolytic with a Melbourne mixologist, Cennon Hansen. The cocktail performance is a special event as part of the MAF Friday Up Late 6pm to 8pm on Fri 3 Aug. She has been represented by Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne since 2017 and Strawberry Thief will be the artist’s first exhibition in the context of a major contemporary art fair. View Elizabeth’s work at Tolarno Galleries (Melbourne), Vault Hall, Stand D7.

Samraing Chea, Arts Project Australia (Melbourne)
Samraing Chea is an emerging artist who works predominantly with coloured pencils. With inspirations stemming from commerce, politics, urban landscapes and social environments, Chea’s work contains both humorous and startling social commentary. Alluding to both historical and present-day references, Chea’s art practice demonstrates an uncanny ability to extract the irony and idiosyncrasies of his subject matter. These will be highly sought after works from one of Melbourne’s most important contemporary art spaces, Arts Project Australia (Melbourne). Samraing’s work will be presented at Vault Hall, Stand B2.

The Melbourne Art Fair runs from August 2 until August 5 in the Southbank Arts Precinct, alongside the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art  and the University of Melbourne Southbank Campus. More information is available here.

Tile and cover image: Chiharu Shiota, Absent Bodies, 2016. Installation view Anna Schwartz Gallery/Photography: Zan Wimberley/Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery

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