Complex connections between humanity and the natural world are celebrated and reconceived in ‘Sugar Spin: you, me, art and everything’. The exhibition plays with ideas of abundance, dizziness and disorientation in five contrasting chapters. We continue our profile on the exhibition themes with ‘Soaring’.

Imagine the earth falling away
beneath you, a sensation of lightness
The land below is all pattern and
rhythm, a dappled skin

We don’t need wings to soar. We fly also when we stretch our thoughts, our imaginations. We soar when we discover new patterns and insights. From Tobias Putrih’s arch of cardboard boxes to Gabriel Orozco’s suspended skeletal wing, and the undulating rhythms of Doreen Nakamarra Reid’s vision of her country, this chapter of ‘Sugar Spin’ brings together many different patterns: in landscapes, on the skin, through genes and generations.

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Tobias Putrih, Slovenia b.1972 / Connection 2004 / Cardboard on plywood / Purchased 2008 with funds from Tim Fairfax, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Tobias Putrih / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA

The profound and sustaining connections between land and body are explored in the graphic rhythms of Dhuwarrwarr Marika’s painting connecting the form of the waterhole with the fontinel of a newborn. Familial lines animate Vernon Ah Kee’s charcoal portraits of his daughter and great-grandmother and adjacent to the media gallery Judith Wright’s consideration of the breast and the links between mother and child.

These patterns of continuity and the tender relationships between generations are disrupted in Gordon Bennett’s The Shooting Gallery 1989, as what initially appears to be a more traditional dot painting resolves into the scene of a massacre. Pattern can both reveal and hide deeper truths. These works ask us to train our eyes and think deeply of this place, the broader world, creation and destruction. Cai Guo-Qiang brings all of these factors into a form of cosmology in his sinuous drawing created with gunpowder explosions.

Vernon Ah Kee’s Annie Ah Kee 2008 and Bella Ami 2008 on display during ‘Sugar Spin’ (far right) / The James C Sourris, AM, Collection. Gift of James C Sourris, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2012. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA
Cai Guo-Qiang, China b.1957 / Nine Dragon Wall (Drawing for Dragon or Rainbow Serpent: A Myth Glorified or Feared: Project for Extraterrestrials No. 28) 1996 / Spent gunpowder and Indian ink on Japanese paper / Nine sheets / Purchased 1996 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Cai Guo-Qiang / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA

An understanding of the structures that underpin our society is vital to its evolution and growth. Soaring includes Finau Mara’s delicately woven mat for a small baby; Sandra Selig’s threaded intersecting trajectories; Carl Warner’s studies of the concrete underside of bridges; and Rivane Neuenschwander’s world map marked out in honey, slowly being consumed by ants. Nourishment and knowledge exist in tension with the potential for over-consumption; tenderness and care coexist with devastation.

On view at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in ‘Sugar Spin: you, me, art and everything’ until Monday 17 April 2017

Sandra Selig, Australia b.1972 / mid-air 2003 / Nylon thread, Styrofoam / Purchased 2004 with funds from John Potter and Roz MacAllan through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Sandra Selig / Photograph: Natasha Harth © QAGOMA

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