State Collection | WA Premiere
Until 13 February
A tiger pelt and two monkeys hand-carved from wood act as a portable chamber of power that references migration, colonial inquest and this artist's family heritage.
Abdul-Rahman Abdullah’s work explores the collisions and ellipses between lived and imagined experiences of cultural identity, belonging and un-belonging through the lens of his Muslim heritage. Throneroom (2021) is a strange and lyrical study in realistic poetics: the animation of objects into magical forms and bonds that hold and unleash memory and longing, avoiding a simple reading.
Connection to the artist’s ancestral homeland in South Sulawesi, Indonesia, is at the fore in Throneroom. Abdullah was born in Port Kembla, New South Wales, and grew up in Perth, the son of an Anglo-Australian father and a Malay mother who migrated from Malaysia to Australia in 1971. Her family line stems from old Bugis nobility originating in Sulawesi.
In 1662, Abdullah’s family was banished from the island in scandal, and when he travelled there to trace his roots in 2015, he became the first person in his bloodline to return to their ancestral homeland — 13 generations later. That trip inspired Throneroom.
“This tiger skin, wherever it [is], … describes a throne room, an aspirational space; you could put it down in any room and it becomes the throne room.” — Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, The View From Here 2021
Abdul-Rahman Abdullah (b. 1977) is an artist living and working on Wadjuk Nyungar country, in the Peel region of Western Australia. His practice explores the different ways that memory can inhabit and emerge from familial spaces. Drawing on the narrative capacity of animal archetypes, crafted objects and the human presence, Abdul-Rahman aims to articulate physical dialogues between the natural world, identity and the agency of culture. Working primarily in sculpture and installation, his work has been described as magic realism, creating poetic interventions with the space it occupies. While his own experiences as a Muslim Australian of mixed ethnicity provide a starting point, Abdul-Rahman foregrounds shared understandings of individual identity and new mythologies in a cross-cultural context. Living and working in rural Western Australia, he provides a unique perspective across intersecting and disparate communities.
A 2012 graduate of Curtin University, Abdul-Rahman exhibited most recently at John Curtin Gallery with a large scale solo show titled Everything Is True as part of the Perth Festival 2021. In 2019 he participated in The National: New Australian Art at the Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2017 he participated in Dark Horizons at Pataka Museum + Art (NZ) and in 2016 was included in Magic Object: The Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia. In 2015 Abdul-Rahman and his brother Abdul Abdullah presented the first WA Focus exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia and in 2018 the Abdullah brothers were shortlisted for the 58th Venice Biennial.