Justine Varga

Hugo Michell Gallery at Sydney Contemporary Art Fair

Hugo Michell Gallery are excited to return to Sydney Contemporary Art Fair, located at Booth F14 from 7th -10th September, 2023.

Richard Lewer
Trent Parke
Justine Varga
Sera Waters
Tony Garifalakis [Installation Contemporary]

Our booth presentation this year creates four distinctive spaces, with an immersive grotto of embroideries and hand-crafted sculptures by Sera Waters that dwell within the gaps of Australian histories to examine settler-colonial home-making patterns and practices. Richard Lewer’s take on the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ - pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth - is loaded with historical reference and surface lustre. Trent Parke’s photographic series ‘Monument’ revisits over 25 years of his most iconic street photography, presenting a single filmic narrative capturing the last moments on earth. Justine Varga’s intimate analogue photographs will seduce with deep colours and gestural marks that writhe across the surface. Tony Garifalakis' 'Scum Suite' engages with the ways in which the meaning of images, signs and symbols might be ascribed, conveyed or transformed in contemporary culture, and how conventional notions of hierarchy and status might be undermined. 

Sydney Contemporary, Australasia’s international art fair presents the country’s largest and most diverse gathering of local and international galleries.

Sera Waters, Justine Varga, Richard Lewer, Trent Parke for Hugo Michell Gallery at Sydney Contemporary Art Fair, 2023. Photo by Document Photography. 

Register your interest to receive additional information regarding this presentation by emailing mail@hugomichellgallery.com

Hugo Michell Gallery Opening: Bridie Gillman, Sam Gold, Jahnne Pasco-White & Justine Varga | Anna Horne

Hugo Michell Gallery invites you to our first opening of the year 'Responsive Forms' by Bridie Gillman, Sam Gold, Justine Varga and Jahnne Pasco-White; and solo exhibition 'Colour me soft' by Anna Horne, on Thursday 9th February, 6-8pm
Responsive Forms
Bridie Gillman, Sam Gold, Jahnne Pasco-White and Justine Varga
This exhibition brings together artists whose practices span painting, photography, and ceramic sculptures. Through innovative approaches to form and colour, the artists create artwork that is responsive to their own experiences, emotions, and perceptions. Together, they demonstrate how artists can wield the emotionally expressive power of abstraction to communicate new ways of understanding ourselves and the world around us.
Colour me soft
Anna Horne
About this solo exhibition, Anna Horne shares: "'Colour me soft' continues my interest in manufactured materials that reference our built environment and embody contradictory states of balance and imbalance, softness and hardness. Using concrete, wire, packaging, spray paint, aluminium and rope, this body of work plays with the aesthetics and materials of the built world. Through these elements I explore the human desire to build and create stability, querying the need to make things last ‘forever’ and maintain permanency despite the inevitability of change."
Hugo Michell Gallery are proud to partner with Bird in Hand Winery for this opening event.
Please join us in celebrating the launch of these two exhibitions and our 2023 program!
Hugo Michell Gallery acknowledges the Kaurna people as the traditional custodians of the Adelaide region, and that their cultural and heritage beliefs are still as important to the living Kaurna people today.
Anna Horne, Build it Up, Tear it Down, 2023, concrete, wire mesh, copper wire and paint
Anna Horne, Build it Up, Tear it Down, 2023, concrete, wire mesh, copper wire and paint. Photography by Sam Roberts

Justine Varga announced as finalist in Bowness Photography Prize

Congratulations to Justine Varga who has been selected as a finalist in the 2021 Bowness Photography Prize for her chromogenic photographic work Shiaparelli. This work will be featured as part of Justine Varga’s upcoming exhibition ‘Masque’ to be presented at Hugo Michell Gallery in November 2021. 

About the work, Varga says:

“When we look at photographs, we are generally asked to view them as a window onto another place and time. Echoing a famously shocking hue, Schiaparelli ruptures this convention by asking the viewer to simultaneously look through and at its photographicness, and from its centre to its edge. The matrix from which this photograph is derived is a negative on which I have inscribed saliva, urine, bath water, ink and paint, mingled materials of genealogical and historical remembering. This photograph also deliberately draws our attention to its margins, an area of the photograph created during the printing process itself. Refusing to give up any easy meaning, Schiaparelli stages an encounter with the viewer, an experience as much as a document.”

Over the last 16 years, the Bowness Photography Prize has emerged as an important annual survey of contemporary photographic practice in Australia and one of the most prestigious prizes in the country. The winning work will be awarded $30,000 and will be acquired into Monash Gallery of Art’s nationally significant collection of Australian photographs.

The exhibition will be on display from Thursday 9th of September until 7th November at the Monash Gallery of Art.


Justine Varga in City Gallery Wellington

Justine Varga is exhibiting her series ‘Areola’ at City Gallery Wellington as part of a curated exhibition titled ‘News from the Sun’.

The window, the horizon, and the still life are some of photography’s biggest clichés. Darkroom and Instagram famous, beloved by professionals and amateurs alike, they demand to be photographed. They have become ciphers for photography itself. News from the Sun features three photographers, who each explore one of these motifs. In each case, the favoured motif is abstracted, serialised, and transformed through formal processes and manipulations that push it far beyond the cliché.

Australian artist Justine Varga’s Areola series combines cameraless and lens-based photography. Key to her investigation is the repeated image of a latticed window, taken from the same negative but shown in multiple states. It harks back to some of the first photographs ever made, Henry Fox Talbot’s 1835 views of a latticed window.

‘News from the Sun’ runs until 15 March 2020. Visit the City Gallery Wellington website for full details.

Justine Varga featured by Art Collector

Justine Varga is currently featured by Art Collector in their online art news. ‘Justine Varga : Camera Observa’ focuses on the balance between Varga’s intuitive and materially-emphasised photography practice and the controversy and critical response it has acquired.

The intellectual rigour of Varga’s work is often emphasised in descriptions of the artist and her practice. But while there is a fierce intelligence behind it, the work’s rich materiality is never diminished by an overbearing conceptual rigidity. Along with the film itself, Varga uses “a fairly limited amount of prosaic and abject materials in the production of my photo- graphs, coupled with various darkroom processes”, she says. The film is variously drawn on, handled, scratched, carried around, cried on and spat on by the artist over an extended period of time and then is physically manipulated in multiple ways to arrive at the final print.

Carrie Miller

Justine Varga announced as finalist in the Bowness Photography Prize

Congratulations to Justine Varga who has been selected as a finalist in the Bowness Photography Prize 2019, presented by Monash Gallery of Art, for her work ‘Overlay’.

“The Bowness Photography Prize has become an important survey of contemporary photographic practice and one of the most prestigious prizes in the country, providing Australian artists with the opportunity to exhibit at one of Australia’s leading public galleries. Since 2017 the prize has been acquisitive and the $30,000 cash prize awarded to the winner ensures that it continues to provide a significant boost to an artist’s career.”

Exhibition runs from October 5 to November 17, with the winner announced October 10.

Trent Parke and Justine Varga in ‘Defining Place/Space: Contemporary Photography from Australia’ at the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego

Trent Parke and Justine Varga are now showing in Defining Place/Space: Contemporary Photography from Australia at the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego.

‘Defining Place/Space’ represents the current state of contemporary photography in Australia through the work of thirteen artists. The exhibiting artists were nominated by esteemed Australian curators of photography, and ultimately selected by MOPA’s Chief Curator Deborah Klochko.

Exhibition runs until September 22.

Fiona McMonagle and Justine Varga in ‘Ways of Seeing’ at the Art Gallery of South Australia

Fiona McMonagle and Justine Varga are now showing in Ways of Seeing at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

“With a primary focus on contemporary works, Ways of Seeing highlights over 100 recent acquisitions to the collection.”

Exhibition runs until April 22 in Galleries 9, 10, and 11 at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Justine Varga announced as WINNER OF The Dobell Drawing Prize 2019

Congratulations to Justine Varga who has been announced as the winner of The Dobell Drawing Prize for 2019. This new biennial prize and exhibition is presented by the National Art School in association with the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation. The Prize is an open call to all artists and aims to explore the enduring importance of drawing and the breadth and dynamism of contemporary approaches to drawing.

Of the work, Justine states: ‘Photogenic Drawing (2018) is an artwork that ruptures any clear distinction between photography and drawing. The negative from which Photogenic Drawing has been derived was drawn on and daubed with pigment during its long exposure. When that negative is printed large-scale in the darkroom, these inscriptions are revealed to intermingle with the distinctive signature of my fingertips, a trace of touching that is generally forbidden in the production of photographs. This mode of working is, in part, due to my grounding in the logic of drawing while I was at art school. But it also recalls similarly drawn photographic prints made in the 19th century by artists like Camille Corot and Charles-Francois Daubigny, and in the 20th by Pablo Picasso and Len Lye. I have always seen my photography in these terms, as a drawing with light, or more literally as a light-sensitive substrate on which I make marks or allow the world to leave its own marks. This print is therefore the making visible of a drawing practice that is at once physical and chemical, autobiographical and contingent, painterly and photographic.’

The Dobell Drawing Prize is now showing at the National Art School and runs until 25 May 2019.

Press Coverage

Art Guide


Hugo Michell Gallery Open: Justine Varga | Kate Just

Hugo Michell Gallery invites you to the opening of Justine Varga’s ‘Areola’ and Kate Just’s ‘From China with Love’.

Justine Varga’s artistic practice demonstrates a sustained interrogation of what we assume photographs to be, and what we expect them to do. Utilising physical manipulations of the material surfaces she works with, Varga touches, smears and inverts negatives, she layers and overlaps exposures, she retains the visual residue of their processes of becoming.

Etymologically speaking, the word areola has its roots in Latin, originally referring to a small, open space. Areola also refers to those ‘small spaces between lines or cracks on a leaf or an insect’s wing’.

Made without a camera to act as intermediary, these images are manifestations of physical contact, visual traces of skin on skin. As she presses the pigment-smeared flesh of her hand onto the negative’s surface, Varga repudiates the lens’s definitive frame. Exploiting the tension between negative and positive, Varga’s tactile manipulations of her materials make evident the physicality of her process…Stripping the mechanistic reproductive power of the camera from the process of making a photographic object, Varga posits instead a method of bodily creation. The spatial and conceptual distance between maker and object is collapsed. Particles of skin and saliva mark the photographic skin, the body of the artist pervading the body of work. Stretching the picture’s frame beyond its conventional limits, these works complicate the certitude of the border which they both occupy and expand.
—Kirsty Baker

Kate Just is an established artist who works with sculpture, installation, neon, textiles, and photography to produce artworks that promote feminist representations of the body and experience. Just is well-known for using textile crafts including knitting as both narrative devices and unwitting political tools. In addition to her highly-crafted solo artworks, Just often works socially and collaboratively within communities to tackle significant social issues including sexual harassment and violence against women.

‘From China With Love’ is a series of hand-sewn textile hangings and a photograph produced during a residency at Red Gate in Beijing in 2018. ‘From China With Love’ is inspired by images and ideas of love, relationships, and feminism in China.

Please join us in celebrating these two incredible exhibitions and the launch of our 2019 exhibition program!

Hugo Michell Gallery acknowledges the Kaurna people as the traditional custodians of the Adelaide region, and that their cultural and heritage beliefs are still as important to the living Kaurna people today.