Queensland’s Art Gallery is well known for its collection of Aboriginal art. But when we visited it on a day stop in Brisbane what attracted us was a special free exhibition of contemporary Papua New Guinea artists called Kin, reflecting the close relationships among the country’s painters.
It celebrated the work of Mathias Kauage and more recent painters and was a riot of vibrant colours and political messages touching on issues like refugees now right at the heart of debate in Britain. It included a remarkable painting of Captain Cook looking down on residents of Papua New Guinea – see above.
The paintings don’t shy away from tackling political issues particularly on the red hot issue in the UK and Australia on asylum seekers and refugees. A particular striking picture praises Jacinda Arden accepting and helping refugees.
One wonders how the painters would portray Suella Braverman and Rishi Sunak -both brown British politicians deporting largely brown and black asylum seekers from the shores of the UK. Perhaps the UK’s leading art gallery Tate Britain should commission them to paint a series to counteract the baleful influence of Right wing Aussie politician Tony Abbott on stirring up hate and resentment in this country.
Two other striking paintings by the group stand out. One is a painting of the Left v Right Australian general election where the combatants are portrayed as Aboriginal chiefs.
Another is of refugees kept in a holding camp in Papua New Guinea similar to the UK plan for one in France.
Two other striking exhibits in-the exhibition including a remarkable sculpture representing people literally getting under other peoples skins and an amazing collage by an Iranian born artist now living in America using decorative images used by Pakistani lorry drivers to beautify their vehicles .