Sunday, 3 March 2013

GUEST POST: Elizabeth Little tackles the APT - Part I

The 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT7)
Gallery of Modern Art(GOMA)and Queensland Art Gallery (QAG): December 8, 2012 —  April 14, 2013

APT7 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Asia Pacific Triennial. The exhibition includes work from more than 75 artists or artist groups from 27 different countries, and has taken over all of Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art and part of the Queensland Art Gallery. When I think of Asia, I tend to think of South East Asia, the APT however has included artists from the wider Asian continent including Turkey, the Middle East, Iran and India as well as Japan, Vietnam, China etc.

One of the things I really like about the APT is that it doesn’t try to come up with some all encompassing and vague curatorial theme. It’s quite happy to be what it is – a survey show of contemporary art from the Asia Pacific region. That said, this year does include 3  smaller shows titled 0 – Now: Traversing West Asia; The 20 Year Archive and a special focus on the art of Papua New Guinea.

Two things stood out for me at this year’s APT. The tendency in contemporary art to make things really really big (or to make lots of something); and the high levels of skill involved in the creation of many of the artworks.

A couple of weeks after seeing the show these are the artworks that I am still thinking about. 
Raqib Shaw, The Last Horse King

Raqib Shaw, The Last Horse King (detail_

Raqib Shaw’s (India/United Kingdom) paintings are large. His largest canvas on display The Last Horse King (2001-2012) is 274.3cm wide and took ten years to paint. It’s a detailed landscape scene that covers night and day, and is full of animals and part human mythic beasts. It’s a seemingly benign & brightly coloured utopia, where pink cherry blossoms softly drop their petals against a blue and purple sky. The attractive jewel like colour of the painting belies the violent imagery that is contained within it, where birds attack horses and peck their eyes, leopards claw at deer, bears claw at monkeys, and snakes twist around branches poised to strike.
Michael Parekowhai

Tiffany Chung

Tiffany Chung
Michael Parekowhai (New Zealand)’s outdoor sculpture The World Turns, commissioned specially for the APT. The sculpture is located at Kurilpa Point, on the Brisbane River, just outside GOMA. It consists of an upended life size elephant, a kuril (native water rat) and a chair, supposedly for the viewer to sit and contemplate the two statues (although on the day I was there, this was cordoned off so the public couldn’t get too close.) The sculpture draws attention to the small, the overlooked, the forgotten, in the form of the kuril who has managed to overcome the might of the elephant. Kurils are indigenous to this specific area of the Brisbane River mangroves, although apparently not many people know this. Huang Yong Ping (China) has installed a giant snake / dragon skeleton in the Queensland Art Gallery’s Water Mall. Ressort (2011) spirals from the ceiling to the floor, metaphorically linking sky and water. And Richard Maloy’s enormous cardboard structure Big Yellow (2012) is squeezed into an end gallery in GOMA, which made it hard to see properly – but perhaps that was the point. In contrast is Tiffany Chung (Vietnam/Unites States of America), who also focuses on the motif of animals. In Exodus she has brought together 4000 hand blown glass animals, each no taller than about 10 cm and arranged them what could possibly be a migratory pattern. These are animals on the move, but whether they are fleeing from something or towards something is not clear. 
Huang Yong Ping

Richard Maloy

Elizabeth Little has a B. Art Theory (Hons)and M Art Admin, COFA UNSW. She lives and works in Sydney.

All images supplied by the writer.
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