Your quintessential visual arts calendar for 2023

Don't look any further – ArtsHub has you sorted for the visual arts in 2023.
exhibition planner. image is of an installation of trees in an art gallery

Jump to:
Autumn (March – May)
Winter (June – August)
Spring (September – November)
Summer (December)


Continuing well into 2023 are a number of blockbusters that were launched late last year, and are worth a mention as prime summer viewing:

New exhibitions for January that set the tone for the year, are the incredible survey exhibitions by Wiradjuri artist, Karla Dickens, Embracing Shadows at Campbelltown Arts Centre (NSW), a deep dive into the colour odyssey constructed from systems and computer code by Ernest Edmonds (The Colour in the Code), at Mosman Art Gallery (NSW, until 5 March) and the fantastic multi-sensory exhibition Frida Kahlo: Life of an Icon at The Cutaway for Sydney Festival. It continues until 7 March. Read review.

Dickens’ exhibition showcases 30 years of her practice, focusing on the themes of female identity and racial injustice. Showing until 12 March 2023. Free. Read ArtsHub’s conversation with Dickens.

Exploring connections between music and the stunning yet fragile landscape of the NSW South Coast, five Australian artists will investigate the complex relationship between body and site using repurposed natural materials such as plant and animal matter, beeswax, oyster shells and algae. Inside Underground at Bundanon (NSW) is part of Siteworks programming and is showing until 12 March. Check out the full Siteworks program for curated weekend activities.

If you are in Victoria, then Tamara Dean’s exhibition About face: are you a boy or a girl? at Monash Art Gallery (19 January – 19 February) comprises 11 portraits of sitters who each have been described or identify as androgynous. They are shown alongside Lebanon born/Melbourne-based artist Ayman Kaake’s portraits of a diasporic life, in Exulansis.

Up north, Cairns Art Gallery is going ‘troppo’ with an exhibition by the late Peter Kingston and Euan Macleod titled Travelling North (21 January – 5 March), celebrating the unique weather patterns, landscapes and people of the tropical zone. 


Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. Image: Party Honouring Claes Oldenburg For Opening of His New Exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum by Ron Galella.

Queensland continues to deliver a hot run of exhibitions into February, with HOTA Gallery – Home of the Arts on the Gold Coast – unveiling Pop Masters: Art from the Mugrabi Collection, New York, with works by Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Basquiat alongside a dozen artists inspired by their legacy. It is a world exclusive – and first ever international blockbuster exhibition for the Gold Coast gallery (18 February – 4 June).

QAGOMA opens two new exhibitions on 11 February: A Third Language, which explores the idea that we all live and speak through a third language that is a hybrid mode borne of the translations and generative mistranslations between words, cultures and histories; and North by North-West, mapping unique pockets of Indigenous Australian artistic practice from the north to the north-west of South East Queensland and reaching across the continent to the top end of Western Australia. Both exhibitions are free.

Haines and Hinterding, ‘Encounter with the Halo Field’, 2009-2015. Single-channel video, colour, sound, 3 min 38 sec. Image: Courtesy of the artist.

Worth mentioning also is UQ Art Museum’s group exhibition, We Are Electric: Extraction, Extinction and Post-Carbon Futures centring eco-critical conversations around energy futures and extinction (14 February – 24 June), and Patricia Piccinini’s No Fear of Depths at Cairns Art Gallery (18 February – 16 April), showing works resulting from a Gallery-initiated research residency in Far North Queensland, where Piccinini created a major body of work exploring the specificity and fecundity of tropical life forms in the region.

In regional Victoria, Shepparton Art Museum (SAM) kicks off the year with Three Hares and Three Ears (25 February – 3 September), an exhibition drawn from the SAM Ceramic Collection and curated by artist Adam John Cullen, along with new works by four invited artists that share qualities of form, texture and glazing.

While at the Geelong Art Gallery (Vic) Kathy Temin: Home Dis-play looks back at works made in the mid-1990s, in particular her research of bird boxes and habitats and their relation to geometry (11 February – 20 August).

On the west coast, the Art Gallery of Western Australia presents the first major museum exhibition of Farah Al Qasimi (born 1991, Abu Dhabi) in Australia. Star Machine comprises over 20 works from a key five-year period of the artist’s practice (2017–2021) and asks important questions around ‘what do photos do now?’ (4 February – 30 July 2023, free).

In South Australia, JamFactory will launch the national touring exhibition New Exuberance: contemporary Australian textile design Textiles in Art, Design and Fashion (17 February – 16 April), which promises to shift the lens on, and dialogue around, this medium’s impact.

Much of the programming in February in NSW connects with Sydney WorldPride 2023, with major Queer exhibitions curated by UNSW Galleries, NAS Gallery, Australian Design Centre and Powerhouse Museum, among others.

Tasmania is in Mona Foma mode in February, which always offers a full cross-venue arts immersion. Two projects that caught our eye are Prayer at Tasmania Museum and Art Gallery (24 February – 9 March), a multi-channel sound installation by South African artist James Webb that explores the fusion of faith; and Witness, large-scale environmental images by photomedia artist Murray Fredericks at Queen Victoria Museum at Inveresk (11 February – 21 May).


‘Melbourne Now’ 2023 artists and designers at the announcement event. The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia. Photo: Eugene Hyland.

A highlight for March is the return of Melbourne Now at NGV Australia for its second edition. Celebrating new and ambitious local art and design across a range of contemporary disciplines, including fashion and jewellery, painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, video, performance, printmaking and publishing, it will include 200-plus Victoria-based artists, including 60 new commissions (24 March – 20 August, free). 

It interestingly coincides with the return of The National: Australian Art Now for its fourth iteration. Presented across the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Carriageworks and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, the exhibition opens across rolling dates, and offers a dialogue on making now. It has been curated by an all-female curatorium this time, free.

Read: Female curators (re)shaping Australian art

Continuing the blockbuster/biennial genre, The Dobell Drawing Prize #23 will open at the same time at NAS Gallery (31 March – 10 June), and this year is extended with the Festival of Drawing, including the Margaret Olley Drawing Week, the NAS Drawing Symposium with Australian and international artists and speakers, plus a solo exhibition by ACT artist, Hannah Quinlivan.

One not to be missed in Queensland, is the exhibition Looking Out, Looking In at QAGOGA, (11 March – 6 August, free). It explores the genre of the self-portrait, a distinct form of portraiture.

The theme of portraiture is also picked up by the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra in March, with the major exhibition Portrait23: Identity, exploring the genre to make the gallery’s third decade (10 March – 18 June, free).

Aldo worth a nod, is the exhibition 100 faces: the Harris, Rosenthal and MGA Collections (Monash University). Through the lens of over 50 international and Australian artists, 100 faces brings together three significant photographic collections to explore the portrait in its many forms, as well as what it means to build a collection of faces, both publicly and privately (4 March – 28 May, free).

Also rethinking how we approach popular images, Andy Warhol & Photography: A Social Media at AGSA will reveal an unseen side of celebrated Pop artist Andy Warhol through his career-long obsession with photography – asking was Warhol the original influencer? Exclusive to Adelaide (3 March – 14 May, ticketed).

And also presented as part of Adelaide Festival programming, Samstag will present the exclusive world premiere of acclaimed international moving image artist Emily Wardill with her project Mis Remembered Bones Chapter 2 exhibition, alongside ceramicist Bruce Nuske, furniture designer Khai Liew, Tasmanian-born, Lisbon-based James Newitt and South Australian artist Catherine Truman in a diverse and dynamic program (3-19 March).

Kenny Pittock. ‘Melted Bubble’O’ 2020, synthetic polymer paint on ceramic, in Australiana: Designing at Nation at Bendigo Art Gallery. Photo: Kenny Pittock.

A highlight for the regional sector in March is Australiana: Designing a Nation, a major new exhibition curated by Bendigo Art Gallery that surveys the iconography of Australiana in art and design from key chapters in our history through to the present day (18 March – 25 June, free).


‘Goddess’, ACMI. L-R Laverne Cox in Paper Magazine, 2020. Photo: © Joshua Kissi. Marilyn Monroe, image by Milton H Greene. Photo: © Archive on behalf of Milton H Greene. Anna May Wong. Image: Courtesy of CPA Media Pte Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo.

Melbourne dominates the major exhibitions for April, with ACMI presenting this year’s Melbourne Winter Masterpieces with the exhibition Goddess. This world premiere exhibition was created by the gallery and explories the on-screen moments and off-screen of leading women – and the power they carry. It will include interactive experiences and large-scale projections, evocative soundscapes by Melbourne-based composer Chiara Kickdrum and over 150 original objects, artworks, props and sketches on display. It will be tour internationally (5 April – 1 October, ticketed).

The 9th TarraWarra Biennial has been curated by Dr Léuli Eshrāghi, and is titled ua usiusi faʻavaʻasavili, a Samoan proverb that means ‘the canoe obeys the wind’. It will feature newly commissioned works by 15 artists/artist groups focused on the interconnectedness of the peoples of Australia, Asia and the Great Ocean at the TarraWarra Museum of Art (1 April – 16 July).


May settles into another season of key prizes, with the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes presented by the Art Gallery of NSW (6 May – 3 September), and the churchie emerging art prize at the IMA (Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane, 20 May – 19 August). In South Australia, the most expensive prize for an emerging artists – the Ramsay Art Prize 2023 – is delivered by the Art Gallery of SA (27 May – 27 August, free).

Two interesting exhibitions that explore First Nations dialogues during May, are Gone Fishing at GOMA – profiling Indigenous Australian works that relate to the cultural, social and recreational activity of ‘fishing’, highlighting current topical discussions around rising seawaters, the depletion of the Great Artesian Basin and native title versus land rights (20 May – 21 January 2024, free).

And a new exhibition James Tylor: Turrangka… In The Shadows at UNSW Galleries, which explores the loss of culture and examines histories of colonisation and their profound impact on Indigenous cultures (12 May – 30 July, free).

While, Parrtjima – A Festival in Light (NT) will return to the Red Centre, on Arrernte country, from 7–16 April with the theme Listening with Heart.

Also worth visiting in May is Milton Moon: Crafting modernism at AGSA. One of the most important Australian potters of the 20th and early 21st centuries is examined in this important exhibition looking at his 60-year practice and its impact (6 May – 6 August, free).


Two major blockbusters headline June, with Frida & Diego: Love & Revolution at AGSA, and the much anticipated (and delayed), Pierre Bonnard Designed by India Mahdavi at NGV International. Both are exclusives.

Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera (24 June – 17 September, ticketed) will feature more than 150 works from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, as well as other important international loans, while the NGV’s exhibition on Bonnard comes from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris and is part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series. More than 100 works by the celebrated French artist will travel to Australia (9 June – 8 October, ticketed).

And with Rising, the Melbourne winter arts festival, slated to return in June, it is a good time to play your creative staycation.

In Canberra, the National Photographic Portrait Prize 2023 will again be staged at the National Portrait Gallery (17 June – 1 October), while in Brisbane, artist Michael Zavros offers his own photo-real take on portraiture in his exhibition The Favourite at GOMA.

Michael Zavros, ‘The Favourite’, survey exhibition at QAGOMA. Image: Supplied courtesy the artist.

The Favourite will profile significant thematic explorations of the artist, including fashion magazines, European palaces, luxury cars, his children, Narcissus and still life, in addition to his self-portraits and reflections upon his heritage. It will survey 20 years of his painting, sculpture, photography and video (24 June – 2 October, ticketed).

Alongside Zavros, the gallery will also presented a major exhibition of eX de Medici’s works, Beautiful Wickedness.


Escape the winter in July and head to Queensland for the return of Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF), with new Artistic Director Francoise Lane at the helm. The 2023 CIAF will be centred on the theme ‘Weaving Our Future: Claiming our Sovereignty’. It will be held 13–16 July with a multidimensional program of exhibitions, markets, music, dance, fashion, craft, theatre and more.

In Victoria, 2023 Yalingwa curator Jessica Clark, in partnership with Creative Victoria and ACCA, will present the third edition of the project supporting the development of outstanding contemporary First Nations art and curatorial practice (1 July – 3 September).


A perennial milestone on the calendar is the staging of the NATSIAA – National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Art Awards by the Museum and Gallery of the Northern Territory – this year slated for 10 August 2023 – 14 January 2024.

It makes for interesting timing ahead of the opening of sis pacific art 1980 – 2023 at GOMA, which will investigate three decades of art-making by a sisterhood of artists from across Oceania, drawing from the QAGOMA Collection. The exhibition will include textiles, ceramics, photography, moving image, sculpture, installation and performance (26 August – 8 September, free).

UNSW Galleries has a bumper mid-year program, with highlights including David Sequeira: History & Infinity and Renee So: Provenance (18 August – 19 November, free).

Sequeira’s work disrupts hierarchies of high and low art and reframes how we identify, value and understand cultural production by exploring ideas of personal and shared histories, the repercussions of colonisation, and the need to recognise marginalised and excluded visual and material histories. The exhibition centres on History and Infinity 2022, a shelf-based installation of over 1000 glass and ceramic vases punctuated by paintings by other artists.

Similarly, Renee So’s idiosyncratic practice in ceramics and textiles is inspired by art history, museum collections and popular forms of gendered symbolism. It is distinguished by its embrace of traditional crafts, cross-cultural thinking, and an underlying sense of the comedic and persistent feminist worldview. Provenance, her first major exhibition in Australia, is presented in partnership with Monash University Museum of Art. 


Sydney Contemporary 2023 at Carriageworks. Image: Supplied.

After a triumphant return in 2022, Sydney Contemporary (NSW) will again be held at Carriageworks, 7-10 September.

A sure highlight for September will be the solo exhibition by Laotian-Australian artist Savanhdary Vongpoothorn, which spans over two decades of practice and premieres a large-scale kinetic wall based sculpture at Campbelltown Art Centre (4 September – 15 October). Vongpoothorn’s work interweaves Lao cultural references with Australian and other cultural influences: from Australian Aboriginal art to Scottish tartans, to Indian miniatures and now to Japanese Buddhism.

Extending the lens of the survey exhibition, AGSA is presenting Liam Fleming: Light and colour following his Guildhouse Fellowship. Fleming will present new sculptural glass work alongside AGSA’s permanent collection of international and Australian art (1 September – 3 December, free).

Aboriginal artist Daniel Boyd will present his ambitiously scaled Rainbow Serpent (version), an immersive exhibition extending across the IMA galleries in Brisbane (9 September – 16 December). While ACE in Adelaide has engaged queer Elder Peter Waples-Crowe (Ngarigu) to lead a mulit-part exhibition project that interrogates and celebrates the meeting points of where Aboriginal and queer cultures intersect, for the exhibition PRIDE (1 September – 28 October).

The exhibition will include a selection of works by Waples-Crowe, co-curated by Artistic Director Patrice Sharkey and Dominic Guerrera (Ngarrindjeri, Kaurna), alongside a presentation of new commissions by three emerging First Nation artists based in SA and mentored by Waples-Crow.


Vincent Namatjira – Art Gallery of South Australia will have a major solo exhibition in 2023. Image: Supplied.

October is Tarnanthi time for South Australia, the festival celebrating Aboriginal art. It will return to the venues in Adelaide, including the Art Gallery of SA, which is presenting the first survey exhibition of celebrated Western Aranda painter Vincent Namatjira titled Australia in Colour (20 October – 21 January 2024, free).

Tarnanthi at AGSA will also include panpa-panpalya, an ideas conference led by notable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, curators, thinkers and writers, as well as offering an extensive array of talks, tours, performances, workshops, creative activities and education programs.

In Sydney, Carriageworks will present the first major solo exhibition by artist Salote Tawale, drawing on her Indigenous Fijian and Anglo-Australian heritage to consider how memory relates to identity and place. With the exhibition space conceived as a ‘memory bank’, Tawale will bring together paintings, sculpture, installation and video to investigate the complex and, at times, unreliable nature of memories (11 October – 10 December, free).

Salote Tawale, Carriageworks Clothing Store Artist Studios, 2022. Image: Jacquie Manning.

And across town at UTS Gallery, a survey of Justine Youssef’s work has been co-commissioned by Adelaide Contemporary Experimental (ACE), Institute of Modern Art (IMA), Brisbane and UTS (3 October – 24 November, free).     


Another survey exhibition that promises to be a standout in November is especially for Modernist inclined art lovers. Geelong Art Gallery will present John Nixon – Four Decades, 500 Prints, a comprehensive exhibition and first serious look at Nixon’s print making oeuvre (18 November – 11 March 2024, free).

The Australia Design Centre in Sydney is currently working on a fascinating project that it will launch in November, ‘exploring non-visual senses and art making’. The Centre is working with the craft-focused publishing platform Garland to produce the exhibition that looks at the non-visual senses – taste, sound, smell and touch, and how they help us ‘reconnect’ with the world, and expand craft beyond solely the visual (free).

And the always popular Head On Photo Festival (NSW) will return across the month of November.


Wrapping up the year on a high note will be Fairy Tales at GOMA,  a high-voltage, multidisciplinary and at times immersive exhibition that explores how fairy tales from across the world have held our fascination for centuries through art and culture.

Fairy Tales explores prominent narrative themes: stories of children coming of age and ageing, the shifting role of gender and otherness, tales of bravery and justice, loyalty and humility, and cunning and aspiration. In doing so, it brings together well-known visual motifs of woods and trees, mirrors and blood, impossible shoes and clothing for royalty, castles and coaches, and at least one pumpkin (2 December – 28 April 2024, ticketed).

And in a nice segue, in Melbourne curators Jessica Clark and Elyse Goldfinch have been working on an exhibition for ACCA that brings together new commissions and existing works by Australian and international artists to explore contemporary representations of horror. With the working title, From the other side, the exhibition will focus on its ability to transgress and destabilise institutions of power, rejecting the often stereotypical and gendered tropes of victim, monster, predator and voyeur within the horror genre (9 December – 17 March 2024, free).

Gina Fairley is ArtsHub's National Visual Arts Editor. For a decade she worked as a freelance writer and curator across Southeast Asia and was previously the Regional Contributing Editor for Hong Kong based magazines Asian Art News and World Sculpture News. Prior to writing she worked as an arts manager in America and Australia for 14 years, including the regional gallery, biennale and commercial sectors. She is based in Mittagong, regional NSW. Twitter: @ginafairley Instagram: fairleygina