“The Fleurieu Art Prize is a testament to the growing importance of the Prize, with so many significant artists entering this year,” said returning international judge, Nigel Hurst, Director of London’s Saatchi Gallery, who led this year’s judging panel.
“We chose Tony Albert’s work for its deft and playful, yet considered interpretation of his homeland. His use of something so every day as playing cards to create this exquisite, visually arresting and pertinent work exemplifies the skill and talent of this deserving Fleurieu Art Prize winner.”
Albert’s winning work, The Hand You’re Dealt is a wall piece comprised of a suite of vintage playing cards, whose placement weaves references to Western popular culture and Australian Aboriginal culture. These intricate pieces which comprise the overall installation are superbly crafted by Albert through cutting, collage and construction techniques, work to displace traditional Australian Aboriginal aesthetics and accepted national stereotypes.
This seamless blend of the kitsch and classic speaks in a contemporary voice about the Australian landscape. In interrogating his immense collection of ‘Aboriginalia’ (a term the artist coined to describe kitschy objects and images that feature naive portrayals of Aboriginality), Albert asks us to engage with the Australian landscape: tangible, social and political.
“Tony Albert is a most worthy winner and we’re especially pleased to award this prize to an indigenous artist during National Reconciliation Week 2016,” said Erica Green, Director Samstag Museum of Art.
Tony Albert has exhibited his work at many international venues, including the Musée d’Aquitaine, Bordeaux, France; the Singapore Art Museum; the National Museum of China, Beijing; and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel. He was also included in the 10th Biennial of Havana, Cuba, and the 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Dark Heart. In 2014, he won both the $100,000 Basil Sellers Art Prize, and the prestigious $50,000 Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award.
His work is also well represented in exhibitions and collections of institutions within Australia, including the National Gallery of Australia, the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of Western Australia and Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art/Queensland Art Gallery.
Tony Albert who is represented by Sydney’s sullivan+strumpf, is currently working with the family of famed Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira in Alice Springs and said this prize ($65,000) will help continue work with the Namatjira family and towards the development of a Namatjira Foundation.
This year marks the Prize’s relocation from the Fleurieu Peninsula and presented to city audiences for the first time at the Samstag Museum of Art in Adelaide. Over 750 entries were received, with the 58 shortlisted works judged by Nigel Hurst, Director Saatchi Gallery London; Suhanya Raffel, Deputy Director and Director of Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales; and Erica Green, Director Samstag Museum of Art.
Since its establishment in 1998, the Fleurieu Art Prize has been staged eight times. Now valued at $65,000, the non-acquisitive prize has garnered an international reputation. Former winners include Fiona Lowry (2013), Ken Whisson (2006), Elisabeth Cummings (2000) and Robert Hannford (1998).
These works will be on display at the Samstag Museum of Art until Friday 29 July 2016. For more information, visit: www.unisa.edu.au/samstagmuseum for details.
Image: Tony Albert, The Hand You’re Dealt, 2015. Vintage Aboriginal playing cards, dimensions variable. Represented by sullivan+strumpf, Sydney. Photograph by Sam Noonan, courtesy Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art, University of South Australia.