Mossenson Galleries at Sydney Contemporary

Settler artists have long recognised the work of their Indigenous fellows – in the 1960s Australia sent a collection of Indigenous bark paintings to the Sao Paolo Biennale; and, of course, the Papunya Tula acrylic paintings, first shown in the next decade, brought Indigenous imagery on canvas into the wider public imagination.  I remember the excitement of that first Papunya show, and consequently have been very interested in the work of Indigenous artists engaging with the contemporary artworld and today’s society. As Diane Mossenson, co-director of Mossenson Galleries remarked, this is “sophisticated, contemporary work born out of their perceptions of the world as they saw it today.”

I’m looking forward to being with Brian Robinson’s Banks’ Bounty: Exotic Cargo at Mossenson Galleries’ Sydney Contemporary exhibition.  I’m using the phrase being with to emphasise the experience: one looks at a two-dimensional work, but a good sculpture requires it share’s one’s space. Robinson’s work will be asking a lot of questions of the people with whom it is sharing.  The other sculpture the Mossensons will bring to Sydney is Peter Zappa’s Oscillaters 3 PZ00075. It’s a paperweight: perhaps an ironic bridge to the other work they’ll be presenting; all works on paper.

These are made by a really interesting selection of Western Australian artists.  Visitors to Sydney Contemporary will be delighted by Brian Robinson’s prints as much as his sculpture; contemplating the effect of Bank’s and Solander’s visit with Cook, his prints focus on the threat to endangered fruit bat in far north Queensland. Monika Lukowska and Nada Murphy also ask us to think about the catastrophic effect on this continent of European interference in landscape and habitat. Monika thinks about endangered stromatolites, while Nada tells us about endangered Grevillia.

Tyrown Waigana’s depicts humans as destructive as asteroids, making the viewer confront the waste and thoughtlessness underlying attitudes to food, fashion, even cleaning products that pollute the oceans.  By contrast, there is endless tenderness and understanding of endless country in the work of Omborrin, who said of his vivid images of Wandjina, trees and landscape “I am not a read and write bloke, but painting lets me to put my history on canvas for people to see and think about.”

Col Jordan’s colours will challenge his fellow artists at Mossenson; his hard-edge optical paintings demonstrate years of commitment to exploring this genre, I’m very interested in how Diane and her team will present this eclectic group of artists, which also includes the Clarkes – father and son – who work together, father supporting son and thinking about the issues involved in his own life, Matthew depicting his, with great energy warmth and affection.

David Brown’ original landscapes entice me: I’m looking forward to seeing how the on-screen images, never quite enough, give way through his tantalising interaction of ochres, they seem as if they will gleam.  And again a contrast and a tribute to the Mossenson’s commitment to quality rather than to imposing a style on their gallery or their artists, Kaye Guthrie Adonis’ lively fluid work encourages us to come on her journey as she explores the notions of difference and change implicit in her Scottish/Nigerian heritage and how her world, and the world in which we all now live, changes.

Sydney Contemporary 
7 – 10 September 2023 
Carriageworks, Sydney 

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