‘Kudusur’ translates as ‘poling with elbow’. This work is Alick Tipoti’s interpretation of the spiritual ancestors, Thoegay and Kang, know to his people as the Zugubal. Thoegay and Kang are two brothers, who extend their elbows and use them as paddles for their canoe. Keen-sighted Thoegay sits at the front, and Kang is blind and sits at the back, Kang is always chewing on a medicine plant.
Tipoti was born on Waiben (Thursday Island) in the Torres Strait. As a young man he developed a passion for the stories of his ancestors, particularly those of Badhu (Badhu Island), and continues the Islander storytelling tradition through dance performances, printmaking, sculpture and large murals. Tipoti is inspired by the ancient artefacts of the Torres Strait Islands, which he has seen in universities and museums, and from the traditional stories handed down and recorded by his father and the recognised elders of the Torres Strait.
Tipoti explains that this mural depicts the brothers summoning the winds to blow, because they wish to sail to another island. Four spiritual figures appear from the sea through whirly-winds. These are ancestral spirits – the ancient Zugubal. They have come to present the winds of different directions or seasons that blow in the Torres Strait Islands, so that the brothers can the choose one blowing towards their destination. Left to right, they read as: Naygay (dry season); Sager (trade wind season); Kuki (monsoon season) and Zey (transitional period).
Thoegay and Kang are spiritual super-humans, masters of witchcraft and other kinds of island magic. At the bow of the canoe, they place a skull of another ancient ancestor, so that they can communicate with the spirit world through it.
Between the brothers in the canoe is a Bu (trumpet shell) which has been rubbed with leaves from a sacred plant. The sound from the Bu clears the skies at night, exposing only the stars that will guide the brothers to their destination. The stars Tipoti refers to are those that came before what we see today – the ones we see today are now Thoegay and Kang themselves.
For more than fifty years, German artist Gerhard Richter has proven his remarkable command of almost every style and genre of painting. Here we have listed 5 reasons for you to see ‘Gerhard Richter: The Life of Images‘ currently on show at GOMA.
To be amazed
… at how gerhard Richter can paint an exquisite object of beauty such as an orchid as well as ‘tragic’ abstract paintings.
Gerhard Richter’s Orchid 1997 is a small painting of exceptional delicacy and skill. Some seventeen years later he returned to a subject that had haunted Richter since the 1960s. Photographs taken from inside the Birkenau concentration camp were a harrowing account of the extermination of Jewish prisoners. He used them as the basis for the four-panel work, Birkenau 2014 which are sombre and dark and very powerful. Strangely, these two works define the way in which Richter oscillates between beauty and tragedy.
… how history returns and informs our world.
A skull is a traditional symbol of death and the passing of time. Known as ‘memento mori’ (remember death) such paintings occur frequently in the history of art and often appear in periods of uncertainty or upheaval. Gerhard Richter has explored the subject on a few occasions and reminds us that, even in the contemporary world, mortality is one of the few certainties in our lives.
… what we understand photography to be.
When Gerhard Richter first started painting over photographs in the early 1990s he realised that these small works summarised much of what he was trying to achieve on a larger scale. By adding thick paint to the seamless ‘perfect’ surface of a photograph, the integrity of something we take for granted and habitually accept as representing reality, is compromised and thrown into question.
… things that are invisible.
Gerhard Richter’s abstract paintings often appear similar at first glance. Only when we have the opportunity to see several together, do we begin to see the subtle nances and often radical differences between them. Shine 1994 is a work that appears to be largely white … or is it grey … or peach. Actually there are many slight shifts in tone and colour in this work if we take the time to look – a little like the light at dusk or dawn.
… about painting as a language.
Gerhard Richter has said on many occasions that he distrusts the world as it is represented through photographs, the media, religion and ideologies. For him painting provides the means to apprehend the world through a language not made of words but of acts of looking, thinking, gestures, doubt and hope. Painting has a language of its own and can only be understood through resisting the temptation to describe it with words.
These featured videos were recorded during QAGOMA’s exhibition lecture series and opening weekend Symposium. Hear from experts and curators as they highlight aspects of German artist Gerhard Richter’s practice. Visit the ‘The Life of Images’ website to find related events within our ongoing program.
Over more than half a century, Richter has demonstrated a remarkable command of diverse art forms, in particular painting. ‘The Life of Images’ on show at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) until 4 February 2018 is the first major Australian exhibition of works by Richter, who is widely considered one of the world’s most influential living artists.
take a peek at our exhibition
In his career-long exploration of the relationship between painting and photography, Richter reveals the potent currency of the reproduced image. His works encompass realism based on photographs and magazine cuttings, large-scale abstracts produced by dragging layers of paint across the canvas, Romantic landscapes and overpainted photographs. This willingness to experiment marks him as a significant force in the revitalisation of painting in contemporary art.
Richter has responded to traumatic events in history – including World War Two and the horror of the Holocaust – and has invested all manner of images, both public and private, with a deeply personal visual language. ‘The Life of Images’ profiles an artist whose sustained and influential practice has both rejected and embraced tradition, at the same time as confirming painting’s mystery and durability as an art form. View the Gallery’s special events to gain a greater understanding of the artists work.
Richter’s landscapes are often interpreted as evoking 18th and 19th century German Romanticism and the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840). The lens of Romanticism both enables and complicates our understanding of Richter’s landscapes.
Looking at both figurative and abstract aspects of Richter’s images, condiser how Richter makes a sustained and persuasive visual argument for a broader and more meaningful conception of the ‘photographic’ as functioning outside the medium of photography.
Dietmar Elger, Director, Richter Archive, Dresden, Germany, talks about what it is like to work in the archive of one of the world’s most successful and influential living artists.
During the opening weekend of ‘The Life of Images’ our Symposium provided a platform for Richter scholars to present new research and lead discussion on the artist’s artistic practice. Presented in partnership with Queensland College of Art, Griffith University and Brisbane Consortium for the Visual Arts.
The Gallery welcomed a record 1.73 million visitors in 2016-17, the largest annual attendance in its history, and is forging ahead with another busy year profiling the work of leading international and Australian artists and culminating in APT9 from 24 November 2018, the ninth chapter of the Gallery’s flagship Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art series.
As with previous Triennials, APT9 will be expansive in its scope and geographic reach and it will be presented across both QAG and GOMA. It will include significant projects from Australia, China, Hawaii, India, Iran, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Pakistan, The Philippines, Turkey, PNG and other parts of the Asia Pacific, with works by more than 80 senior, mid-career and emerging artists. For the first time it will include a project co-commissioned by us and Singapore Art Museum, and major works developed in partnership with Tjibaou Cultural Centre, New Caledonia and Dhaka Arts Centre, Bangladesh.
APT9 will have a strong representation of Australian artists and among the many highlights will be two major projects undertaken with Pacific artists – The Bougainville Women’s Wealth Project, which extends to the Solomon Islands, developed with Sana Balai, independent curator and active member of the Pacific Islander community in Australia and the Pacific, and the newly developed Marshall Islands Project. Following the presentation of projects by Patricia Piccinini and Tony Albert, the Children’s Art Centre will open APT9 Kids from 15 September 2018.
Watch our time-lapse as we install Gerhard Richter’s ATLAS compendium comprising some 400 panels personally selected by the artist from thousands of clippings, photographs and source images.
As we announce the 2018 program we look forward to strong attendances all through summer, with our two major exhibitions focused on senior contemporary artists Gerhard Richter and Yayoi Kusama at GOMA, and the return of Kusama’s much-loved, interactive installation The obliteration room at the Children’s Art Centre.
From 2 December 2017 view ‘Picasso: The Vollard Suite’, a National Gallery of Australia exhibition which focuses on the rare complete set of a hundred etchings and engravings created by Picasso in the 1930s and named after art dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard. The works explore themes much favoured by Picasso including the artist and his model. This iconic suite of prints will be shown alongside selected works from the QAGOMA Collection.
From 9 December 2017 the Children’s Art Centre presents ‘Me, Myselfie and I’, an exhibition focused on multiple representations of self, featuring works from the international, Asia and Pacific, and Australian collections, as well as hands-on and multimedia artist projects.
‘Patricia Piccinini: Curious Affection’ opens from 24 March 2018. Exclusive to GOMA, this will be the Australian artist’s most ambitious project to date and includes major new commissions contextualised with works from the past 15 years. It will occupy GOMA’s entire ground floor as well as a dedicated Children’s Art Centre space, where an interactive project Piccinini has developed for children will draw young audiences into an immersive environment filled with soft sculptural creatures.
An exhibition chronicling the development of Indigenous Australian artist Tony Albert opens from 2 June 2018. ‘Tony Albert: Visible’ features works from 2002 to the present, including the artist’s epic appropriations and re-appropriations of kitsch ‘Aboriginalia’, text-based installations and the award-winning photographic series ‘Brothers’. Albert is one of the most exciting Australian artists working today. His work interrogates representations of Aboriginal people through a mix of humour and poignancy, while tackling issues of race and representation head-on. ‘Tony Albert: Visible’ continues the Gallery’s commitment to presenting major exhibitions of contemporary Indigenous art. It will be a showcase of an early to mid-career artist in his prime. Albert’s large-scale project for children and families will also be presented at the Children’s Art Centre, GOMA, from 19 May 2018.
In 2018 QAGOMA will tour ‘A World View: The Tim Fairfax Gift’, an exhibition celebrating a decade of international artworks acquired through the support of a single generous benefactor, Tim Fairfax AC.
A career-spanning survey of work by leading contemporary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama opens at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) from Saturday 4 November until 11 February 2018. ‘Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’ profiles the significant contribution of this much-loved contemporary artist. QAGOMA has enjoyed a long standing relationship with Kusama – dating back to 1989 – and over that time the Gallery has developed substantial holdings of the artist’s work.
‘Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’ is presented in five thematic chapters and explores recurring motifs in the 88-year-old artist’s oeuvre. Delve into Kusama’s world with its seamless integration of Pop, Surrealism, Minimalism and psychedelia, using her trademark motifs of nets, dots, eyes and pumpkins, and a vocabulary of obsession, obliteration, accumulation, aggregation and infinity.
The free exhibition includes early painterly experiments, soft-sculpture and assemblage, performance documents, iconic ‘infinity rooms’ as well as large-scale installations including the eye-catching, polka-dotted inflatables. Figuring prominently are the ‘net’ paintings that have appeared consistently in Kusama’s practice since the late 1950s; and 24 brightly coloured paintings from the My Eternal Soul series which has been ongoing since 2009.
Other highlights include I WANT TO LOVE ON THE FESTIVAL NIGHT 2015, an immersive hexagonal installation with external and internal mirrors and a floor of multi-coloured flashing lights and THE SPIRIT OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED TO THE HEAVENS 2017, a mirrored cube installation visitors can peer into where the internal reflections create the impression of a vast field of luminous gourds.
Also included are major artworks acquired by QAGOMA since 2002 – the infinity mirror room Soul under the moon 2002, the large sculpture Flowers that bloom at midnight 2011 and The obliteration room2002-ongoing, an interactive installation that has toured to more than 20 venues in 15 countries and been viewed by more than 5 million people.
Tickets are on sale now for Summer Up Late, from 5.30pm-10.00pm on Friday 19 January 2018. Surrounded by GOMA’s summer exhibitions – Summer Up Late will feature DJs, talks, bars, and live music from acclaimed Michigan-born, Berlin-based electronic producer and performer Laurel Halo, and independent Sydney-based producer and songwriter Lupa J. Summer Up Late tickets include exhibition entry to ‘Gerhard Richter: The Life of Images’ and ‘Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’.
‘Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow’ has been co-curated by Reuben Keehan, Curator, Contemporary Asian Art, QAGOMA; Russell Storer, Deputy Director (Curatorial and Collections), National Gallery Singapore; and Adele Tan, Curator, National Gallery Singapore. Funding for insurance for the exhibition has been provided through the Queensland Government Exhibition Indemnification Scheme.
Feature image: Yayoi Kusama’s THE SPIRITS OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS 2015
William Dobell is an artist recognised for his portraits and for often embellishing his sitter’s appearance to draw out their most distinctive traits. The model for The Cypriot 1940 was Aegus Gabrielides, a Greek Cypriot waiter who worked in a London café frequented by Dobell and his fellow Slade School students in the 1930s.
Go behind-the-scenes with Anne Carter, QAGOMA Paintings Conservator, and watch as she delves into the secrets once hidden behind The Cypriot. There is a lot more to the painting than meets the eye – all hidden from view under the surface – until the Gallery x-rayed the painting.
Go behind-the-scenes with Anne Carter, QAGOMA Paintings Conservator
William Dobell returned to Australia in 1938 with a number of sketches of Aegus Gabrielides, described by the artist as a ‘very quiet sort of chap, well mannered, very lazy, harmless individual’. Yet, in this final version of the portrait, painted in Sydney, Dobell has given Gabrielides an intense and determined presence. Dobell’s choice of title and the transition from the sketches to the final painting shift the focus from the individuality of the sitter to his Greek heritage and Cypriot nationality. Painted before the period of post-war immigration from Europe, a time when the blue of a Mediterranean ‘five o’clock shadow’ was still unfamiliar to many Australians, The Cypriot is as much a depiction of cultural difference as it is a portrait of an individual.