Exploring the New Frontier
hand embellishment on vintage paper
109 pieces, dimensions variable
Images courtesy of the artist and Sullivan+ Strumpf
TONY ALBERT b. 1981
Tony Albert’s art practice interrogates contemporary legacies of colonialism in a way that prompts the audience to contemplate elemental aspects of the human condition. Mining imagery and source material from across the globe and drawing upon personal and collective histories, Albert questions how we understand, imagine and construct difference. Certain political themes and visual motifs resurface across his oeuvre,
including thematic representations of the ‘outsider’ and Aboriginalia (a term the artist coined to describe kitschy objects and images that feature naive portrayals of Aboriginality).
Albert’s technique and imagery is distinctly contemporary, displacing traditional Australian Aboriginal aesthetics with a kind of urban conceptuality. Weaving together text appropriated from popular music, film, fiction, and art history, the artist presents a tapestry of ideas that makes us question the flimsy line that inscribes and ascribes ‘difference.’
Albert has exhibited his work at many international venues, including the Musée d’Aquitaine, Bordeaux, France; the Singapore Art Museum; the National Museum of China, Beijing; and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel. He was also included in the 10th Biennial of Havana, Cuba, and the 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Dark Heart.
He is also well represented in exhibitions and collections of institutions within Australia, including the National Gallery of Australia; the Australian War Memorial, Canberra; the Art Gallery of New South Wales; the Art Gallery of Western Australia and Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art—Queensland Art Gallery. In 2013 Albert was commissioned to create an artwork for the Sydney Hyde Park War Memorial, installed in Hyde Park South on Anzac Day 2015 to commemorate indigenous soldiers. Tony Albert presented his first major institutional solo exhibition at the Queenland Art Gallery of Modern Art in June 2018. Albert has also been invited to participate in the 2018 Gold Award at Rockhampton Art Gallery. The invitation Biennial Painting Award offers a major prize of $50,000.
Albert was a finalist in the inaugural Ramsay Art Prize in 2017, an award for Australian contemporary artists under 40. In 2016 he was the recipient of the Fleurieu Art Prize and a finalist in the Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Albert was awarded both the prestigious $100,000 Basil Sellers Art Prize and the
$50,000 Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Awar
Exploring the new frontier is an ongoing studio project looking at ideas of exploration, travel and the great beyond. Each of the papers draws from the artist’s own collection of Aboriginalia as well as representations of Aboriginal people sourced from vintage comics, children’s books, science fiction and academic texts. Is this happening now? Is it thousands of years in the past or thousands of years in the future? Who are the Astronauts? Are they male or female, young or old, Aboriginal or Alien? “I feel like this work is more about asking questions than answering them. I’m not sure where it’s going or if it will ever be finished, but for the moment it continues to grow and expand; actions I also associate with the idea of “the new frontier”…”