ReDot Fine Art Gallery is honoured to present, An Unconfirmed Number, an exhibition of recent paintings by Australian artist, David Kelly. The work is the culmination of his Master of Visual Art degree through the University of South Australia and presents a powerful visual exploration of Australia’s colonial past. Developing from a residency with the Gija people of Warmun Art Centre in 2012, Kelly examines his non-indigenous ancestry as it relates to the colonisation of Australia and the largely untold stories of the violent conflicts that marked the era. The significance of ‘place’ and his relationship to the landscapes in which he has lived and travelled has been a recurring theme in Kelly’s work over more than thirty years as a practicing artist. In this series he extends on the reference to political themes associated to place, first addressed in his ‘Tuol Sleng – silent walls’ series, related to the Khmer Rouge rule of Cambodia.
In a similar way to that body of work, the artist presents in this new exhibition, highly charged images drawn from harrowing histories that use visual devices of beauty by contrast. Within the stark black and white lines of several canvases, sit subtle grey textures which invite closer consideration. In other works, the boldness of the Australian forest landscape is conveyed with the burnt sienna hues of eucalyptus trunks and the scorched black texture of wattle tree bark. While used as metaphors to convey his message, Kelly avoids literal reference to the landscape, rather alluded to in gesture, texture and palette.
Drawing on experiences as a teacher and artist in South Australian Adnyamathanha and Narungga communities, Kelly has used his more recent relationship with Gija painters to share a story not often told with a non-indigenous voice. He has set out to create what he terms a ‘memory initiative’ rather than a memorial, which promotes discussion, honest reflection and a positive view to the future. While acknowledging a difficult past, the work is equally a celebration of what transcends all human histories; the captivating qualities of the Australian landscape. These paintings provide an opportunity to reflect and consider the stories they reference, or simply to immerse oneself in the aesthetic experience of earthen forms, rich palette and dramatic composition.
In his comments on the exhibition, Dr. Ian Greig, of the National Art School, Sydney, Australia, wrote ‘(this work) effectively articulates the capacity of painting to act as a transformative event in the experience of memory’ and ‘(in it) we have a context in which painting can perform a redemptive, therapeutic engagement with the world – painting as a vehicle of transcendence’.
The exhibition begins on Wednesday 3rd August and runs until Sunday 28th August 2016. It will be attended in person by David Kelly for the official opening on Wednesday 17th August 2016 at 6:30pm.