Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). Two galleries with one driving aim – to connect art & people. Follow our profiles on Australia, Asia and the Pacific. Visit us at www.qagoma.qld.gov.au. Brisbane, Australia
Art in colonial Australia | The gallery displays Australian art from the colonial period, highlighting the influence of European traditions on the visual culture of the colonies. Throughout the nineteenth century, European settlers in Australia became increasingly at home in their surroundings and their art reflects this changing relationship with their environment. During the century, Indigenous Australians interacted with settler artists, the weaponry on display is evidence of a rich Indigenous material culture. The Tasmanian Double-ended sofa c.1830-40 is the earliest item of colonial furniture in the gallery’s Collection. It is an exceptional example of the Neo-Grec style which fascinated society during the latter part of the eighteenth century.
In The World Turns, Michael Parekowhai casts a small native water rat, the kuril, in the role of hero. Along with the traditional Aboriginal custodians, the kuril is one of the caretakers of the land upon which QAGOMA and this sculpture stand. The kuril is intrinsically linked to the mangroves that weave around the Kurilpa Point shoreline, which feed it and provide it with shelter, and that these trees, with their strong tentacle-like roots, are the source of nourishment for a diverse ecology. Here, the kuril is planted firmly on the ground, going about its business, even though it has shifted the world – represented by a large, upturned elephant – from its axis. The chair is an invitation to sit and contemplate this remarkable feat.
The World Turns reminds us that history is often recorded to highlight specific moments, but, as the world turns, there are many other stories – and these are central to our understanding of history.
[APT7 COUNTDOWN] The work of senior Tongan-New Zealand artist Sopolemalama Filipe Tohi elegantly and literally unpacks the ancient Pacific lalava, the lashing traditionally used for joining and binding everything from seafaring vessels to buildings. In the absence of writing, Tohi says, pattern is the language of the Pacific. Ancestral stories and genealogies are encoded in the lalava. For APT7, he has translated the complex patterns of the lashings into drawings that reveal the intricacy concealed inside normally tightly-wound lavala, with each drawing representing one of many layers. This two dimensional representation is then extruded into a woollen relief that reveals the depth of a pattern that transforms as it is viewed from different angles. One particular pattern, the fakalava or cross, is then extracted further into three dimensions, depicting in balsa wood the lalava as it appears from 45- and 60-degree angles.
As he transposes the same patterns across different forms, Tohi manipulates and exposes the complexity of memory and space. On his website, the artist writes: “I believe lalava patterns were a mnemonic device for representing a life philosophy… By changing the scale of lines I seek to intrigue the viewer with a manipulation of space and pattern, introducing them to a ‘first level’ and creating a desire to discover more about what they see.” | The Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT7) is on view until Sunday 14 April.
[APT7 COUNTDOWN] Richard Maloy experiments with audience experience by using industrial materials to create structures and images in playful, sometimes awkward dialogues. Maloy’s massive installations draw viewers into gallery spaces, where they find themselves immersed in an unexpected environment, carefully built with cardboard, tape, plastic bags and wood. His gigantic work for APT7 uses cardboard boxes held together with tape and painted vivid colours, transforming them into a vibrant, amorphous structure. Thirty metres in length, the work encompasses most of the available space in the room, its brightly coloured angular shapes creating new visual and spatial possibilities for the audience | On view until Sunday 14 April.