We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 Find out what you need to know before visiting





Vanila Netto

Brazil, Australia

14 Mar 1969 –

  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    pigment inkjet print
    49.0 x 48.0 cm sheet; 52.0 x 51.0 cm frame
    Signature & date

    Signed and dated l.c. frame backing board, black ink "... (2010) ... V. NETTO".

    Purchased with funds provided by the Photography Collection Benefactors' Program 2010
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Vanila Netto

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Vanila Netto

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Born in Salvador, Brazil, Vanila Netto has lived in Sydney since 1987 and has been professionally practicing art since the mid 90s. A lecturer in Photo-media at the University of Sydney, Netto holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (hons) and PhD in Media Arts from the College of Fine Arts, Sydney. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions since 1996 and has held several solo exhibitions, most recently Solace in 2010.

    Sydney writer and curator Clare Lewis has noted previously that much of the artist’s work ‘recalls and extends the utopian projections of the modernist dream’ [‘Some futures are more equal than others’ exhibition notes, Breenspace 2008]. In her PhD research, Netto continued this interrogation of modernism exploring as she notes ‘alternate models of living, with an emphasis on the human capacity to act creatively under restriction and limitation’. Certain aspects of these ideas resonate within the ‘Solace’ body of work, from which the two photographs ‘Plan-air elevation’ and ‘Watch-keeping’ are drawn.

    ‘Watch-keeping’ depicts a building whose intended purpose might be surveillance related. Yet the barren semi-industrial landscape in which it sits, ironically absent of humans or even any form other than itself to observe, lends a sense of redundancy and abandonment. The architectural form simultaneously conjures retro-futuristic sci-fi and Victorian panopticon – unlikely companions but each embodying past utopian visions that have fallen by the wayside.

    With its image of a robust knotted tree trunk and title, ‘Plan-air elevation’ alludes to the grandeur of nature and the romance of painting in the great outdoors. Yet the artist’s deliberate misspelling creates a play on words that directs our attention to the wider scene, we note the spindly young trees garrisoned in the background and the ‘wilds of nature’ are revealed as purpose built landscaping.

    This relentless re-creation and reordering of environmental elements also recurs in other images from the ‘Solace’ group. While tracing the compulsion of humans to construct, renew, reorder, enact place/purpose and then discard, these images remain optimistic. The drive to replace old with new is analogous to the current of life itself - the same energy which causes trees to shoot new leaves, to shed old bark and limbs in an eternal cycle of creation, decline and regeneration.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

    • Solace, Breenspace, Sydney, 20 Aug 2010–18 Sep 2010

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication

Other works by Vanila Netto

See all 5 works