Until 30 January
Three new works from one of Australia's most provocative painters reference ocean, land and fire in a collective denunciation of ruling class hypocrisy.
Born into a Muslim family, Abdul Abdullah uses the outsider status that framed him after 9/11 to take on the myths and power dynamics that shape personal and national identities in a global sphere. Poetic and provocative, his work combines a punchy, graphic presence that elicits strong emotional and intellectual responses with an ambiguity that maintains a nagging, unsettling force.
AGWA presents three of Abdullah’s paintings. Titled after a Billy Joel song, We didn’t start the fire speaks to the repetitive nature of human struggles between individuals and groups. Summing up the feeling tone of the current zeitgeist, the track-suited males with split-brand loyalties (Adidas and Nike) tussle over minor differences against an ocean that symbolises an obstacle one wouldn’t tackle unless it was utterly unavoidable.
Issues of enforced occupation are at the heart of And the Portuguese and the Dutch, a painting that tweaks the Irish rebel song “Go On Home British Soldiers” into a more general smack back against the transgressions of peace-keeping and colonial occupations. Can’t see the trees for the fires is a hymn to the 2019 – 2020 bush fires, and a critique of our willingness to ignore threats we know are coming for us, from global warming to more personal ones.
“The through line of my work has always been a criticism of that political class, the hypocrisy of it.” — Abdul Abdullah, The View From Here 2021