2022 | Abdul Abdullah | 2mx10m | oil on linen
The initial intention of this work was to celebrate the aesthetic brilliance of 19th and early 20th century Australian landscape painters, while at the same time interrogating and challenging their political context, and the colonial language of frontiers, exploration, and discovery – the language of ownership. To me the rhetoric regarding taming, conquering, and capturing the Australian landscape reflects a desire to possess it. So often they presented a utopic vision that erased pre-colonial history. As my research developed, I became increasingly interested in our modernists of the second half of the 20th century and the language they used to describe the landscape. As I absorbed official and unofficial biographies, memoirs, and diaries I became more and more frustrated with the personalities described. The projection of genius on deeply flawed individuals was used to justify and obfuscate abhorrent behaviour. I thought to myself if any of my contemporaries behaved in such a way, I would refuse to support them, and in many cases it would be a matter for the police. In my reading the language of entitlement and authority expanded to include ideas, histories and bodies. I asked myself why would we continue to lionise, celebrate and uplift these practices and what contribution to the visual discourse was so essential that we owe these legacies anything?
- Abdul Abdullah