Drawing together the work of 12 artists from The Holmes à Court Collection, ARTISTS IN FOCUS – Iconography: traditions and influence looks at the iconography that cross-references indigenous and non-indigenous art.
There is a specific focus on the notions of appropriation (both accidental and intentional) that occurred during the 1980s through collaborative projects between artists such as Imants Tillers and Turkey Tolsen Tjupurrula.
The fluid lines in Ian Fairweather’s drawings respond to his affinity with Aboriginal art and have parallels in the early works of Emily Kngwarreye and Tim Leura Tjapaltjarri’s paintings.
Tony Tuckson’s gestural, geometric paintings have interesting relationships to the paintings of Rover Thomas, Peter Skipper, and the later works of Kngwarreye, and Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri.
Appropriation and collaboration are intrinsic to Imants Tillers practice as in his use of the dynamic circles and lines that represent meeting places and journeys, drawn directly from the icons of Aboriginal art as in the Papunya paintings of Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and Anatjari Tjakamarra.
Collaborative projects between artists from diverse cultural backgrounds produced some challenging work that acknowledged that cultural boundaries existed. Gordon Bennett and Tim Johnson’s collaboration in 1989 resulted in two individual canvases Creation I & II, each artist emphasising this division through incorporating the iconography of the other in their separate works.
The selection of artists in this exhibition have in some instances contributed significantly to the development of contemporary art practice in Australia. Cross-cultural collaborations have raised challenging issues that often evolved into long term working relationships between artists. However, appropriation continues to be a subject of contention when icons of cultural identity are subsumed into imagery that denies the original context it derived from.