Brutal Truths

Vernon Ah Kee brutalitiesPresenting preeminent voices in contemporary Australian art, Brutal Truths features the work of Vernon Ah Kee; the late Gordon Bennett; and collaborative artists Destiny Deacon and Virginia Fraser at the Griffith University Art Gallery until 9 April 2016.

“These works deploy images and texts bearing witness to Indigenous Australian subjectivities while harnessing artistic and personal agency across cultures,” says Angela Goddard, Director of Griffith Artworks. “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. 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,” says Evans. “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.

Brutal Truths
Griffith University Art Gallery, 226 Grey Street, South Bank (Brisbane)
Exhibition continues to 9 April 2016
Free entry

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Image: 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.