GUAG exhibition explores Brutal Truths

Vernon Ah Kee, 'brutalities' (triptych) 2014, acrylic on canvas Three panels, 180 x 150cm each. Photo: Carl Warner. Courtesy: The artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.

Opening at Griffith University Art Gallery today (Thursday), Brutal Truths presents preeminent voices in contemporary Australian art, each with substantial international profiles — Vernon Ah Kee; the late Gordon Bennett; and collaborative artists Destiny Deacon and Virginia Fraser.

According to Angela Goddard, Director of Griffith Artworks and co-curator, the free public exhibition Brutal Truths, opening 19 November, showcases three major installations of provocative and politically engaged works.

“These works deploy images and texts bearing witness to Indigenous Australian subjectivities while harnessing artistic and personal agency across cultures,” she says.

“Grounded in debates relating to Australia’s Indigenous history, the works are also resonant with contemporary global contexts of displacement and oppression.”

The earliest works in this exhibition are by the late Gordon Bennett, who has been at the forefront of contemporary Australian art for the last three decades, known for his interrogation of identity, culture, history and language.

The exhibition brings together Bennett’s seminal video work Performance with Object for the Expiation of Guilt (Apple Premier Mix) from 1995 alongside installation elements.

Gordon Bennett 'Performance with Object for the Expiation of Guilt' (Apple Premier Mix) (still) 1995, solour video, sound, 185 minutes, looped. Collection: The Estate of Gordon Bennett. Courtesy: Milani Gallery, Brisbane and Sutton Gallery, Melbourne © The Estate of Gordon Bennett
Gordon Bennett ‘Performance with Object for the Expiation of Guilt’ 1995, colour video.
Collection: The Estate of Gordon Bennett. Courtesy: Milani Gallery, Brisbane and Sutton Gallery, Melbourne © The Estate of Gordon Bennett

Ms Goddard describes this as “a rare performance in which Bennett himself takes on a role of dominant oppressor.”

Co-curator Naomi Evans says provocative interrogations of racism, ideologies and politics are recurrent in Vernon Ah Kee’s works, which have encompassed drawings, paintings, text works, videos and installations – three new works will be seen in Brutal Truths.

“The incisive art of Ah Kee draws upon history and contemporary situations,” she says.

“Ah Kee’s series brutalities looks beyond specifically Australian contexts – as exemplified in his paintings that featured recently in the 14th Istanbul Biennial.

Destiny Deacon and long-time collaborator Virginia Fraser present an immersive installation where the gallery is wallpapered with images of towering public housing flats in Melbourne. Titled Snap out of it, the work includes Deacon’s signature photographic vignettes with dolls and family members against an environment of brutalist architecture that has become synonymous internationally with failed utopian ideals and disadvantage.

Destiny Deacon 'Snap out of it (A)' 2014, Hahnemuhle photo rag, 43 x 33cm. Courtesy: The artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.
Destiny Deacon ‘Snap out of it (A)’ 2014, Hahnemuhle photo rag, 43 x 33cm. Courtesy: The artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.

Visitors to Brisbane for the opening weekend of The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8) will also have the opportunity to view the exhibition during Griffith University Art Gallery’s extended opening hours: 9am-6pm on Saturday 21 November and Sunday 22 November 2015.

Free entry. Griffith University Art Gallery. Queensland College of Art
226 Grey Street, South Bank
11am – 4pm, Tues – Sat.

Media Contact: Lauren Marino, 0418 799 544, l.marino@griffith.edu.au