Hand Carved ink on Hahnemulhe
140 x 110 cm
Throughout my artistic career the focus has been on the question of belonging, not only our sense of belonging to a place in indigenous terms, but also the effect upon the natural environment due to global warming. Equally is this work about the Diaspora of human kind, whether this is caused by natural disasters or human injustice like oppression related to religion, race, gender or sexuality, the work is in search for a modern Utopia.
The topic of diaspora and climate change have been the focus of my art practice for over a decade. Due to the inaction governments on climate change I started a protest whereby I request galleries to cover my artwork during the exhibition (#climatecoverup), in hope that my voice is heard on the issue of Climate Change as an artist and resident of Australia.
Underneath the cover the viewer can find the artwork suggesting the quiet moments during the destruction caused by global warming, questioning the survival of human kind or as we attempt to survive and assimilate in a new world. The overall composure of the protagonist (self-portrait) is gentle or passive, and at times this mood is contrasted by intense strain, highlighting the condemnation of disasters causes by humanity. The sombre colouring are a metaphor for of mental health caused by climate change, as oppressive monotone greys and blacks are dominant beside the naked body and skin tones.
While the image may translate into a landscape, the essence is about what is added, altered, or removed. By scraping back the layers I hope to highlight not only the foreigner or its composure, but also the concept of memory and cultural belonging. These etchings pay homage to artists working within the Symbolism genre, as well as early Dutch landscape artists. The photographic element is inspired by allegory themes with strong references to Renaissance painting and sculpture. The male figure sometimes appears integrated into the landscape, while other times alienated from his surroundings, metaphorically questioning the preconceptions concerning issues of contemporary displacement.
Currently with the artist
Entered in the 2020 National Works on Paper
Photo by Mark Sherwood