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Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane presents Natalya Hughes: The Interior

July 30–October 1, 2022

The Interior by Natalya Hughes brings viewers into an overblown consulting room that is humorously outfitted for psychoanalysis. In order to create a stimulating environment for exploring our societal and unconscious biases, this immersive installation blends sculptural chairs, lavishly patterned soft furnishings, and uncanny objects of art.

The Interior plays with gendered power dynamics between public and private space because it is interested with the role of women and their historical exclusion from leadership roles. The couches that line the gallery’s walls are shaped like the curves of a woman’s body, and their intricate upholstery features motifs like eyes, rats, and snakes that Freud used in his patient case studies to decorate the room in sensual tones.

The furniture’s feminine forms urge viewers to recline and relax while alternately playing the roles of analyst and patient. The Interior wants to establish a space where women’s existence in the “post-Me Too” world can be reimagined on multiple terms throughout this physical interaction.


In October, a publication addressing three interconnected strands of the artist’s current practice that reappraise male modernists (Freud, Kirchner, and deKooning) and their complex female subjects will be released to go along with the exhibition.

Featuring essays by Dr Susan Best (Queensland College of Art, Griffith University), Dr Jacqueline Chlanda (University of Queensland Art Museum), Dr Andrew McNamara (Queensland University of Technology), alongside an interview between Hughes and curator Elspeth Pitt (National Gallery of Australia) this publication is a rich survey of Hughes’s recent work.

The Interior is designed by EviO Studio, Sydney and published by the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane.

The artist

The decorative and ornamental traditions that have been linked to excess, the feminine, and the body are the focus of Natalya Hughes’ work. The relationship between Modernist artists and their unnamed female subjects has been the topic of recent bodies of work.

Hughes won the Sunshine Coast Art Prize in 2020 and was a finalist in both the Sulman Prize at Art Gallery of NSW and the National Works on Paper Prize at Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery in 2018, as well as the 2017 Ramsay Art Prize at Art Gallery of South Australia. Her work has been included in institutional exhibitions such as Queensland Art Gallery|Gallery of Modern Art (2019, 2017 and 2012), Artspace Sydney (2016), Hazelhurst Regional Gallery (2015), Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne (2009) and Tarrawarra Museum of Art, VIC (2006).

Hughes completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane in 2001 and a PhD in Art Theory at the College of Fine Art (UNSW) in 2009. She currently lives in Brisbane and is the Honours Program Director, Visual Arts at the Queensland College of Art. She is represented by Milani Gallery (Brisbane) and Sullivan + Strumpf (Sydney).

About the Institute of Modern Art

Since 1975 the Institute of Modern Art has been the hub of Brisbane’s contemporary at scene, presenting an annual program of exhibitions, public programs, publications, and offsite programs by Queensland, Australian, and international artists. The IMA is a registered charity and membership organisation supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, the Australian Government through Australia Council for the Arts, and the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian Federal, State, and Territory Governments. The IMA is a foundng member of Contemporary Art Organsiations Australia.

Natalya Hughes is the 2022 recipient of the Michela & Adrian Fini Artist Fellowship, awarded by Sheila Foundation.

Institute of Modern Art
420 Brunswick Street
Fortitude Valley
Brisbane Queensland 4006
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10am–5pm

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