Natalya Hughes

15 June - 28 July 2024
Main Gallery

Drawing on the gendered power dynamics between public and private space, The Interior presents a playfully exaggerated consultation room.   

Combining sculptural seating, richly patterned soft furnishings, uncanny objects d’art, and a hand-painted mural, The Interior creates a stimulating space to unpack our collective and unconscious biases. 

Natalya Hughes, one of Australia’s most exciting mid-career artists, is known for her explorations of decorative and ornamental traditions and their associations with the feminine, the human form, and excess. Recent bodies of work investigate the relationship between Modernist painters and their anonymous women subjects. 

In The Interior, Natalya builds on her interest in the role of women and their historical absence from positions of power. The exhibition asks, “Can we use the talking cure to solve society’s ‘problem’ with women?” 

The custom-made couches that dot the gallery take their lush contours from the shapes of the female body, and their detailed upholstery reveals motifs of eyes, rats, and snakes taken from patient case studies from the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. 

Audiences are invited to recline and be enveloped, soothed, and held by the furniture’s womanly forms while taking turns playing analyst and patient. With this bodily encounter The Interior creates a space where the existence of women can be reimagined on different terms in the post-‘Me Too’ world. 

This exhibition is presented by the Institute of Modern Art (IMA) and toured by Museums & Galleries Queensland. 

Image: Installation view, Natalya Hughes: The Interior, 2022, Institute of Modern Art. Photography: Charlie Hillhouse

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Image: Belinda Bonney, Reconciliation of the Nation: we all walk together as one (detail)