Tony Albert flips the script on race and representation with his Visible exhibition
Real talk – white Australia’s treatment and representation of its Aboriginal population is inexcusably bad. There’s no skirting around the fact that things need to change, but the nature of these issues is harrowing, heavy and can be hard to navigate. Someone adding a touch of humour to this poignant topic is Tony Albert, the award-winning Indigenous Australian artist who has carved his own unique path in our country’s cultural landscape. His latest exhibition Visible is coming to Queensland Art Gallery from June 2 to bring a different perspective to the conversation surrounding race and representation.
When it comes to Australia’s art scene, Tony Albert is one of the most exciting names floating around. Since graduating from the Queensland College of Art in 2004, he has established an unmistakable and nationally recognised style that goes above and beyond to get people thinking (and talking). Tony’s practice questions Aboriginal representation through a mixture of humour and heart, but don’t get it twisted – he’s not going to skirt around the big issues of race in Australia. It’s a formula that has seen his work shown in major international, national and private collections, as well as collecting awards and accolades.
Tony Albert: Visible draws upon the artist’s work all the way back to 2002 up until the present, collating a truly outstanding display across mediums including found object-based collage, painting, photography, video and installation. The exhibition was developed by Bruce Johnson McLean, Curator of Indigenous Australian Art at QAGOMA, to showcase the artist’s most vital and incisive pieces from a career full of highlights. If you’ve never heard the term ‘Aboriginalia’, it’s time to get acquainted – it describes Tony’s lifelong passion and practise of collecting decorative items of kitsch ‘Australiana’ featuring Aboriginal people and motifs, then flipping the script by working them into sculptural, text-based installations which directly address the racial histories embodied in the objects.
Tony Albert: Visible opens at the Queensland Art Gallery from June 2 – you can check it out for free until it finishes up on October 7.
Image one: Tony Albert / Girramay/Yidinji/Kuku Yalanji peoples / Australia QLD/NSW b.1981 / Sorry 2008 / Found kitsch objects applied to vinyl letters / 99 objects: 200 x 510 x 10cm (installed) / The James C. Sourris Collection. Purchased 2008 with funds from James C. Sourris through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation
Imagine two: Tony Albert / Girramay/Yidinji/Kuku Yalanji peoples / Australia QLD/NSW b.1981 / Mid Century Modern (series) 2016 / Pigment prints | 24 works: 100 x 100cm (each)
Image three: Tony Albert / Girramay/Yidinji/Kuku Yalanji peoples / Australia QLD/NSW b.1981 / Headhunter 2007 / Synthetic polymer paint and vintage Aboriginal ephemera / 110 x 370cm / Purchased with funds provided by the Aboriginal Collection Benefactors’ Group 2007
Image four: Tony Albert, David C Collins, Kieran Smythe- Jackson, Aziah Smythe and Braidan Reid / Warakurna – The Force is with us #4 2017 / Archival pigment print, ed. of 3 + 2 AP / 100 x 150cm / Collection: The artist. Courtesy: Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney
Image five: Tony Albert in his Carriageworks studio, Sydney, 2018 / Photographed by Mark Pokorny