Main Image: Dick BRUNA Miffy at the gallery 1990. Courtesy and © Mercis bv Amsterdam.
As 2020 draws to a close and the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to loom large, an exhibition starring an adorable white rabbit opening later this month at the QUT Art Museum will help spread some much-needed joy.
Opening 21 November, miffy & friends celebrates 65 years of an avant-garde design icon and much-loved children’s book character. The exhibition is a coup for QUT Art Museum which initiated and developed it, the first time the work of Miffy creator, Dutch illustrator Dick Bruna (1927-2017) has appeared in Australia.
The free exhibition will run until 14 March 2021 and places Miffy alongside the work of seven of Australia’s most exciting contemporary artists who find the ideas encapsulated in Bruna’s figure as inspiration for their own artistic practice.
Exhibition curator and QUT Art Museum Gallery Director Vanessa Van Ooyen, who led negotiations to bring the work here, said miffy & friends would be an opportunity for people to come together to share in the pleasures of art. Visitors can pose with life-size Miffy cut-outs and interact through augmented reality, while those who can’t get to Brisbane will be able to take a virtual tour.
Ms Van Ooyen said the exhibition would feature original drawings, illustrations, posters and early book covers loaned from Bruna’s estate, Mercis bv in Amsterdam, exploring his aesthetic influences and, in turn, how he has influenced artists in Australia.
“Bruna’s creation owes a debt of influence to the likes of Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger and Piet Mondrian. Through her pared back details and purity of line, Miffy – with her dots for eyes and a cross for a mouth – manages to embody a universal language of minimalism, expressing a myriad of emotions and subtle nuances understood across generations and cultural milieus,” she said.
“The inclusion of work by Stephen Bird, Sadie Chandler, Nadia Hernández, Carla McRae, Nell, Brian Robinson, and Vipoo Srivilasa firmly places the exhibition within an Australian context.
“Miffy perfectly captures the Dutch concept of gezelligheid, which isn’t a word easily translated into English but is about a feeling, of coming together with loved ones and a general ‘togetherness’ that gives people a sense of belonging and mutual understanding.”
First conceived by Bruna as a bedtime story for his son, Miffy the little white bunny, or nijntje as she is known in Dutch, has evolved into a globally recognised character. More than 30 Miffy books have since sold over 85 million copies worldwide.
“Miffy is a deceptively unassuming figure. Her outward simplicity belies a legacy grounded in the 20th century avant-garde art, reflecting ideas of abstractionism and colour theory,” said Ms Van Ooyen.
After its Brisbane run, QUT Art Museum will tour the exhibition to Bunjil Place Gallery in Melbourne from 3 April–13 June 2021.
Discover more about miffy & friends at the QUT Art Museum website.