The Melbourne Art Fair is on our doorstep, set to turn the Royal Exhibition Building into a bustling marketplace filled with dealers, galleries, curators and collectors. This year’s incarnation sees Melbourne hosting 80 select national and international galleries, showing contemporary art from over 900 artists, which will in-turn attract a projected 30,000 visitors. Art lovers can take in paintings, sculpture, photography, installation and multi-media works from a diverse range of contemporary artists and galleries.

Utopian Slumps is featuring Sydney artist Amber Wallis’s exceptional abstracted landscapes, which take the form of strangely haunting and optimistic tropical vistas, while Sophie Gannon Gallery is showing works by artists such as Emily Ferretti and Leslie Rice’s dramatic, intoxicating works on velvet. Among other artists, Tolarno Galleries will feature Martin Bell’s colourful, clotted clay works UFO BUSTERS!, sumptuous close-up poppies by painter Tim Maguire and Caroline Rothwell’s dark plants and animals, likened to ‘nature on acid’. Over at Fehily Contemporary, three artist are showing including some new works by Sally Smart.

The fair can surprise first-timers. While many might expect a mega exhibition, the experience might be likened to more of a mega mall. This is, after all, a commercial fair aimed at bringing collectors and galleries together. If you are interested in simply checking things out, time your visit so you can see the fair in action and then take in one of the programmed events. There are a range of lectures, education sessions, tours and events running alongside the festival.

Our picks include Amanda Marburg producing a unique artwork with the assistance of other artists and the audience over the course of the fair, or the lecture on science fiction in art at 10am on Saturday August 4, Melbourne Museum Theatre.

The Melbourne Art Fair runs from August 1 to 5, at the Royal Exhibition Building.

Thurs August 2, 11am-7pm
Fri August 3, 11am-8pm
Sat August 4, 11am-7pm
Sun August 5, 11am-5pm