Kangaroo Story at Wantapi

 

Kumantje Jagamara OAM (b.c.1946-2020) was one of the foremost champions of the Western Desert painting movement and a deeply respected Warlpiri/Luritja Elder and senior cultural leader of the broader Papunya community. He was a dynamic innovator of Papunya’s second wave of painters known for creating evocative new forms to portray his ancestral inheritance.

In both life and art, Kumantje held true to his jukurrpa: his Warlpiri law, its interconnected cultural knowledge system and dreamings. His Country, Pikilyi, is an important ceremonial site at the intersection of a number of the dreamings represented in his works — Possum, Snake, Two Kangaroos, Flying Ant and Yam — alongside lightning, rain, shields and sacred sites.

Kangaroo Story at Wantapi 1988 (illustrated) on display in the Australian Art Collection at the Queensland Art Gallery was painted a year before Kangaroo and Rain Dreaming 1989 (illustrated) in which the central area also represents Wantapi, west of Mt Singleton.

The tracks in Kangaroo Story at Wantapi show an old kangaroo sitting looking at the kangaroo ‘milk guts’ which are depicted by the central circle. The roundels are the camps of the kangaroo ancestors whose spears, shields and stone implements are featured. The central section of the work, the large central circle, the smaller ones and the kangaroo tracks are designs used during the men’s ceremonies associated with the site of Wantampi, close to Mt Singleton. In each corner of the painting the artist has shown the Wild Fig Dreaming. The trees on which this fruit is found grow in the hills1.

Kumantje Jagamara ‘Kangaroo Story at Wantapi’

Kumantje Jagamara, Warlpiri/Luritja people, Australia, b.c.1946-2020/ Kangaroo Story at Wantapi 1988/ Synthetic polymer paint on linen / 213 x 228cm / Gift of Robert Bleakley through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation 2017. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Estate of Kumantje Jagamara

Kangaroo Story at Wantapi is a classic work by Kumantje Jagamara, with great energy being generated through an intense field of almost camoflage pattern-like field of differently coloured dotted blocks packed against each other, jostling for attention across the picture plane.

On top of this background the narratives associated with the Kangaroo Story unfold through an arrangement of objects and icons used in both the narrative and the ceremonies commemorating and continuing this Dreaming. All of these elements are married in a near-perfect symetry prized by artists from the Luritja, Warlpiri and Anmatyerre school or style of painting within the Western Desert movement.

Endnote
1 Artist Statement, Papunya Tula Artists certificate

Kumantje Jagamara ‘Kangaroo and Rain Dreaming’

Kumantje Jagamara, Warlpiri/Luritja people, Australia, b.c.1946-2020/ Kangaroo and Rain Dreaming 1989 / Synthetic polymer paint on canvas / 141 x 186cm / Purchased 1990 with funds from ARCO Coal Australia Inc. through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Estate of Kumantje Jagamara

Kangaroo Story at Wantapi can be viewed as part of the Gallery’s Australian art display in Galleries 10, 11, 12 & 13 (Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Galleries) Queensland Art Gallery.

Acknowledgment of Country
The Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Gallery stands in Brisbane. We pay respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present and, in the spirit of reconciliation, acknowledge the immense creative contribution First Australians make to the art and culture of this country.

It is customary in many Indigenous communities not to mention the name or reproduce photographs of the deceased. All such mentions and photographs on the QAGOMA Blog are with permission, however, care and discretion should be exercised.

#QAGOMA

30 000 butterflies & moths migrate to GOMA

 

Carlos Amorales’s Black Cloud 2007/2018 (illustrated) is a sublime and surreal gathering of 30 000 black paper butterflies and moths in sculptural formations. Alighting on the walls, ceiling, and light fittings at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) during the exhibition ‘Air’, the flight of insects is both wondrous for its unexpected arrival in the Gallery and foreboding in how it darkens and crowds the space. Moments of concentrated intensity are balanced by smaller, sparser groupings creating a teeming mass which rises to envelop the viewer.

Air | Timed tickets on sale
GOMA, until 23 April 2023

Watch our time-lapse

Take a peek at ‘Air’

The installation Black Cloud 2007/2018 brings the raw beauty of untamed nature into GOMA, taking inspiration from the grand annual migration of the Eastern monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), which travels up to 4025 kilometres from the United States and Canada (where they breed) down to the mountainous forests of central Mexico (where they hibernate). Although the monarch’s migratory pattern is one of the most highly evolved of any species, it is under threat from climate change. The darkened forms of Amorales’s butterflies in Black Cloud raise the spectre of their extinction, referred to by the artist as a ‘plague’, the butterflies’ uncanny beauty suggests a fragile ecosystem profoundly out of whack.

Black Cloud is a careful and labour-intensive production, with each laser-cut iteration of the 30 species folded and glued by hand. During the installation process, the butterflies and moths are loosely dispersed along lines to create an organic swarm. Affixed at different heights and orientations, thousands of winged insects encircle viewers in an experience that fluctuates between evoking a sense of calm and intimating a looming calamity.

With its striking visual language and eerie beauty, Carlos Amorales’s Black Cloud invites us to confront the escalating devastation of invertebrate populations due to climate change, the butterflies’ charred wings a dire portent of things to come.

Edited extract from the accompanying exhibition publication Air available at the QAGOMA Store and online.

Carlos Amorales, Mexico b.1970 / Installation view of Black Cloud 2007/2018, ‘Air’ GOMA 2022 / 30 000 black laser-cut and handfolded paper butterflies (30 different butterfly and moth species in five sizes with a wave wing pattern), ed. 1/3 (+ 1 A.P.) / Purchased 2022 with funds from Tim Fairfax AC through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Carlos Amorales / Photographs: M Campbell © QAGOMA

Air’ / Gallery of Modern Art, Gallery 1.1 (The Fairfax Gallery), Gallery 1.2 & Gallery 1.3 (Eric and Marion Taylor Gallery) / 26 November 2022 to 23 April 2023

#QAGOMA #AirGOMA

Joe Furlonger: Where sea meets land & sky

 

Queensland artist Joe Furlonger’s practice is informed by his early years in semi-rural Samford, on the north-west outskirts of Brisbane, which profoundly influenced his career as an artist by instilling in him a love of the outdoors. At 17 years of age, he went to work as a deckhand on commercial fishing boats, periodically returning to that ocean-going life over the subsequent 15 years. It was out there — where sea meets land and sky, forming infinite horizons — that Furlonger first learned to think in paint.

Watch: Joe Furlonger’s story

The sea and beach

The sea and beach are recurring themes that feature in Furlonger’s early work. The figures depicted in a series of Bathers (illustrated) are powerful and monumental in the way they inhabit the composition. Furlonger says of the ‘Bathers’ series:

The Bathers paintings are a part of a series that evolved from a more definite return to life drawing to reinvest observation and realism into my painting… I felt I wanted to counter any reductivist processes by going back to drawing where form and subject matter both play a part. So I have chosen my bathers to combine realism with form and with contemporary things — maintaining a dialectic with history through the common subject of the figure.1

Joe Furlonger ‘Bathers’

Joe Furlonger, Australia b.1952 / Bathers 1987 / Oil on canvas / 236 x 280cm / Gift of the Moët & Chandon Australian Art Foundation Fellows Collection through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2000. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Joe Furlonger
Joe Furlonger, Australia b.1952 / Bathers 1987 / Oil on canvas / 201 x 290cm / Purchased 1988 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Joe Furlonger

For his large figurative ‘Bather’ paintings, Furlonger immersed himself in the styles and techniques of Picasso and Matisse, learning from their example and adapting those lessons to his own purpose. The artist is quick to acknowledge them:

I laboured on the Picassoid thing — you are aware of these influences, but there is no use just playing around the perimeters of these things. You may as well just wade in — go through it rather than around it. I was drawn naturally to the major figurative painters so naturally there’s going to be versions of Leger, Picasso and Matisse.2

What makes these figurative works unique is that, despite their impressive size (some roughly two and a half by three metres each), they carry a deep sensitivity to the subject, evolving, Furlonger says, ‘from a more definite return to life drawing to reinvest observation and realism into my painting’.3 Each figure powerfully, monumentally, inhabits their evocative beachscape, with the ever-present sea in the background.

Joe Furlonger ‘Bathers’

Joe Furlonger, Australia b.1952 / Bathers 1987 / Watercolour over pencil on wove paper / Triptych: 44 x 32cm (each) / Purchased 1988. Andrew and Lilian Pedersen Memorial Prize for Drawing 1987 (winning entry) / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Joe Furlonger
Joe Furlonger, Australia b.1952 / Bathers (detail) 1987 / Watercolour over pencil on wove paper / Triptych: 44 x 32cm (each) / Purchased 1988. Andrew and Lilian Pedersen Memorial Prize for Drawing 1987 (winning entry) / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Joe Furlonger

Joe Furlonger ‘Beach with lighthouse’

Joe Furlonger, Australia b.1952 / Beach with lighthouse 1989 / Colour lithograph / 56.5 x 76.5cm / Purchased 1991. Andrew and Lilian Pedersen Trust / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Joe Furlonger

Joe Furlonger ‘Deposition on the beach’

Joe Furlonger, Australia b.1952 / Deposition on the beach 1990 / Soft ground etching / 56.7 x 76.4cm / Purchased 1991. Andrew and Lilian Pedersen Trust / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Joe Furlonger

Excerpt text drawn from the QAGOMA exhibition publication Joe Furlonger: Horizons, published with the generous support of the Gordon Darling Foundation.

Endnotes
1 Joe Furlonger, quoted in ‘Joseph Furlonger: Moët & Chandon Fellow’, Moët & Chandon Australian Art Foundation Travelling
Exhibition 1988 [exhibition booklet], Moët & Chandon Australian Art Foundation, Sydney, 1988, unpaginated.

2 Tracy Cooper, ‘The good ideas are simple’, in Tracy Cooper and Louis Nowra (eds), Joe Furlonger: Survey 1982–1999 [exhibition pamphlet], Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Qld, 1999, unpaginated.
3 Furlonger, in Moët & Chandon Australian Art Foundation Travelling Exhibition 1988 [exhibition booklet].

The limited-edition hardcover publication Joe Furlonger: Horizons is available for purchase from the QAGOMA Store and online.

‘Joe Furlonger: Horizons’ / Gallery 14 and the Kenneth and Yasuko Myer Gallery (Gallery 3), Queensland Art Gallery / 27 August 2022 to 29 January 2023.

#QAGOMA

Concrete is an unlikely home to an ecosystem of plants

 

Jamie North develops his living sculptural forms around the contrast between nature and industry, growth and decay, progress and collapse, in Portal 2022 (illustrated) currently on display in the exhibition ‘Air’, two circular concrete columns composed of cast concrete with aggregates of industrial remains open up to an emergent tree habitat, offering an unlikely home to a number of plant species indigenous to Brisbane. In their crevices and cavities, an ecosystem of native plants appears, slowly and against the odds, to be taking hold.

Air | Timed tickets on sale
GOMA, until 23 April 2023

Jamie North Installating ‘Portal’

Jamie North Installating Portal 2022, ‘Air’ GOMA 2022 / Photograph: M Campbell © QAGOMA

Over time, the natural and man-made elements of the sculptures become entwined as the plants seek out natural growth lines and explore their partially eroded, post-industrial surroundings. Against the monumentality and rigid geometries of the concrete columns, the gradual, encroaching growth of the indigenous plants performs a tentative re-greening. Creeping vines and lithophytes (plants that grow on rock) climb the towering structures, offering moments of lush growth cradled by the cracked and crumbling forms. It creates what North refers to as ‘a living sculptural system’, one which, when tended with water and light, evolves continuously and in unplanned ways over the duration of the exhibition.1

Jamie North ‘Portal’

Jamie North, Australia b.1971 / Installation view of Portal 2022, ‘Air’ GOMA 2022 / Cement, ash, slag, expanded clay, graphite, organic matter and plants native to Queensland / Two columns: 290.9 x 60cm (each), plus plants / Courtesy: Jamie North and The Renshaws, Brisbane / © Jamie North/Copyright Agency / Photograph: M Campbell © QAGOMA

The frequent presence of plant matter in North’s work is the result of a childhood affinity with the natural world, a relationship that the artist describes as ‘communicative’: ‘From an early age I have observed plants in an intense way, and my childhood memories are filled with very specific thoughts around them’.2 In bringing organic and inorganic materials together in a rich, unpredictable dialogue, North has commented on how his ‘redemptive re-use of the waste generated by human activity sits alongside that most definitive of regeneration processes: the succession of nature’.3 North also draws on a third element — the viewer — who he invites into a symbiotic relationship with the work.

As we interact with the plant life embedded in the twin sculptures, we participate in the reciprocal exchange of gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide) that is the singular, sustaining feature of our interdependent relationship with the natural world.

Endnotes
1 Jamie North, artist proposal for Portal 2022, QAGOMA Curatorial files, p.2.
2 Jamie North, quoted in Serena Bentley, ‘Jamie North Rock Melt 2015’, National Gallery of Victoria, 18 March 2015, <ngv.vic.gov.au/essay/jamie-north-rockmelt-2015/>, viewed May 2022.
3 North, artist proposal, p.52.

Edited extract from the accompanying exhibition publication Air available at the QAGOMA Store and online.

Jamie North, Australia b.1971 / The Infiltrators (Wattle Street, Ultimo) 2009 / Giclée print on archival silver rag paper / 42.27 x 28.18cm / Courtesy: Jamie North and The Renshaws, Brisbane / © Jamie North/Copyright Agency

Air’ / Gallery of Modern Art, Gallery 1.1 (The Fairfax Gallery), Gallery 1.2 & Gallery 1.3 (Eric and Marion Taylor Gallery) / 26 November 2022 to 23 April 2023

#QAGOMA

Lloyd Rees: The process of observation & composition

 

Brisbane-born Lloyd Rees (1895–1988) is known for his fluid, light-saturated paintings of the Australian landscape in which the human figure and built environment harmonise with trees, cliffs and bodies of water. The artist is also remembered for his expert drafting skills honed over a lifetime of close observation and drawing, with a selection currently on display in the exhibition ’Air’.

Air | Timed tickets on sale
GOMA, until 23 April 2023

Lloyd Rees ‘Bamboos near corner of Park and River Roads; Trees in Milton’

Lloyd Rees, Australia 1895–1988 / Bamboos near corner of Park and River Roads; Trees in Milton c.1915–16 / Pencil on sketch paper / 28.6 x 19.5cm / Gift of Alan and Jan Rees through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation 2014. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Alan and Jancis Ress/Copyright Agency

Lloyd Rees ‘Moreton Bay Fig at Milton, figure under tree’

The Gallery holds a large group of Rees’s early Brisbane sketches, including studies of trees, gardens and foliage that hint at humanity’s close connection to our environment. In Moreton Bay Fig at Milton, figure under tree c.1912–17(illustrated) the twin trunks of a fig reach upwards, supporting a beautifully articulated canopy. A small figure sheltering in the shadows below looks into the distance.

Lloyd Rees, Australia 1895–1988 / Moreton Bay Fig at Milton, figure under tree c.1912–17 / Pencil on paper / 11 x 17cm / Gift of Alan and Jan Rees through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation 2014. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Alan and Jancis Ress/Copyright Agency

In Moreton Bay Fig at Milton, figure under tree, a vast, open space of free-floating potential is perfectly represented by the empty white of the artist’s paper. Rees observed:

From quite an early age I was overwhelmed with the fact of endlessness . . . Planetary systems can blow up, but the universe is endless, and our little life is set in the midst of this, and everything in it has a beginning and an end . . . [This] gives to life a sense of mystery that is always with me.1

The artist’s humble pencil studies remind us of how vital it is to explore, learn about and come to understand the world in our own way. Rees began this group of studies when he was a young man, aged only 17, who loved to draw and was training his hand and eye.

Rees lived to 93 and, as his sight faded, he was forced to abandon the great precision of line he had perfected. His late landscapes — The sunlit tower 1986 (illustrated) — became increasingly abstract and concerned with tracing the effects of light and atmosphere.

Endnote
1 Renée Free and Lloyd Rees, Lloyd Rees: The Last Twenty Years, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1990, p. 166.

Edited extract from the accompanying exhibition publication Air available at the QAGOMA Store and online.

Lloyd Rees ‘The sunlit tower’

Lloyd Rees, Australia 1895–1988 / The sunlit tower 1986 / Oil on canvas / 107 x 122cm / Gift of Alan and Jan Rees through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 1996 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Alan and Jancis Ress/Copyright Agency

Air’ / Gallery of Modern Art, Gallery 1.1 (The Fairfax Gallery), Gallery 1.2 & Gallery 1.3 (Eric and Marion Taylor Gallery) / 26 November 2022 to 23 April 2023

#QAGOMA

Large-scale globe casts Earth in an emergency-red glow

 

Currently on display in the exhibition ‘Air’ at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Mona Hatoum’s large-scale globe Hot Spot 2006 maps the continents in startling red neon, casting viewers in an emergency-red glow. Hot Spot is at once a map and model of the Earth: an underlying structure laid bare; an energy system; and a stainless-steel cage measuring just over two metres in circumference.

Air | Timed tickets on sale
GOMA, until 23 April 2023

Mona Hatoum ‘Hot Spot’

Installation view of Hot Spot (detail) 2006, ‘Air’ GOMA 2022 / Photograph: J Ruckli © QAGOMA

‘Hot spots’ are often understood as distant conflict zones that are seen as ‘other’ or isolated. By extending a sense of heat across the entire globe, Hatoum complicates this sense of distance, suggesting that geopolitical conflict affects us all. Hatoum proposes our whole planet is a hot spot, constantly redefined by the struggle for power: whether through war, disease, social unrest or structural inequity. Hatoum seeks to bring the experiences of those suffering or living without freedom into the gallery, creating a space of shared social consciousness.

Throughout human history, globes have symbolised travel, freedom and discovery but Hot Spot conveys a world that is wired, dangerous and overheating. With global warming affecting every region on Earth, today the work assumes a new environmental urgency as a sizzling omen of change to come.

Edited extract from the accompanying exhibition publication Air available at the QAGOMA Store and online.

Mona Hatoum, Lebanon/United Kingdom b.1952 / Installation view of Hot Spot 2006, ‘Air’ GOMA 2022 / Stainless steel and neon tube / 230 x 223 x 223cm / The David and Indrė Roberts Collection / Courtesy: The Roberts Institute of Art, London / Photographs: M Campbell © QAGOMA

Air’ / Gallery of Modern Art, Gallery 1.1 (The Fairfax Gallery), Gallery 1.2 & Gallery 1.3 (Eric and Marion Taylor Gallery) / 26 November 2022 to 23 April 2023

#QAGOMA