Coogee Is Everywhere

Nanda\Hobbs, Sydney

August 15 -24, 2019

I am very excited to be making a return to developing contemporary figurative paintings, my first and deepest interest in art. This new work takes my love of Coogee Beach, its forms and its people as a basis for the exploration of my relational themes plus my ultimate interest in meditative states.

The work would be best described as an interplay between these two key ‘spheres’. On the one hand there are the things meaningful to me in the relational, relative world, the world of people and relationships, the beauty of the environment and spaces, the richness of the simplest experiences in the world as they present themselves. This is also the world of racial inequalities and structural biases, of who gets to control and inhabit spaces and how, questions around the country we live on and our continued amnesia around colonialism and dispossession, and my primary wish that our First Nations people take their rightful place as central to our national life. Fundamentally, I want to ask a question, how does one reconstitute oneself as a white man/white person post Reni Eddo-Lodge and her paradigm-exploding book ‘Why I No Longer Talk To White People About Race’? For the many non-white people in my life, I feel to truly love and understand them I must make every possible attempt at seeing how the world actually is for them. As it is said, when you want to know what your society is really like, simply ask any marginalized person.

The other important and in a sense ultimate ‘sphere’ for me is that of operating in a permanent meditative state of pure intuition and equivalent phenomena, everything comes from this place and (unlike my relational themes) has absolutely no hierarchy. This is symbolized by the silver metallic expanses in the works. I don’t see the world in single states of being, single views or vistas, but rather I’m more interested in the actual continuum of mind as it really works. This means that objects, places and presences can come in and out of awareness simultaneously and in any order or combination whatsoever, this is absolutely not a process of intellect or conscious arranging. Nor is it just random, as I’m not at all interested in creating studied artifice. Rather, there is a kind of ‘intuitive messaging’ that naturally arises from familiarity within this meditative state.

For me it’s important to understand the interplay between these two spheres and the seeming paradox between them. Though everything that might form the nature of my relational subject matter ultimately relies on this ‘intuitive messaging’.

Another important aspect informing my work is my lifelong interest as a musician and percussionist in African and African diaspora music and culture; from having studied drumming in Ghana in my early 20s, from being a member of various multi-racial bands, from studying percussion and Kora with a Guinean griot family, through to my close connections to the Sydney Congolese community with their music and emersion in the fashion culture of Sapologie. In this way my entire life has been devoted to this zone or interface between black and white culture, and articulating and celebrating a shared space. I am interested in creating work that explores and helps to open this space further.

Music is a fundamentally important element operating in my work (central to ‘intuitive messaging’) in terms of animating certain states and primary emotional impact; visually expressed in strong colours, rhythms, vibrations, dissonant clashes and certain types of violent energy. Music and musicality is transmuted as a guiding visual principle.

August, 2019

Instal and instal shots by Anthony Hodgkinson

Click this link to be redirected to the full exhibition catalogue at Nanda\Hobbs

Traveling (Delta Lady) (2019, 183x138cm, oil on linen)

Traveling (Delta Lady) (2019, 183x138cm, oil on linen)