The doors have just closed on a stunning exhibition. I was able to hear about the inside story of its creation so I am going to share with you some of its highlights.
This is the 7th Asian Pacific Exhibition and it was the most ambitious to date. It featured 75 artists from from 27 different countries in this area. There was a major focus on Papua New Guinea, but also some stunning pieces from India, Indonesia and Vietnam.
We had the opportunity to hear about the preparation and commissioning of the works from Papua New Guinea from the curator of the exhibition, an anthropologist and a PNG architect. The challenges and the logistics were enormous. The goals were exceptional and no effort was spared to realise them including bringing the artists over to Australia to create these wonderful works of art. Putting it all up and presenting it was monumental. We heard fascinating insights into PNG architecture, the importance of the spirit houses which are often used for male initiation ceremonies and their costumes which are used for these festivals and celebrations. The theme of the exhibition was to talk about and exhibit the ephemeral.
The intricate paintings on one of the spirit houses of painted wood and woven sago palm
The crocodile costume made with sago palm and notice the shell for an eye
One of the many masks and costumes of the exhibition
Some of the totem poles painted by individual language groups and clans
The roof the the house in the background made by painting individual pieces which are then all joined together. This is normally suspended over the totem poles.
This massive bright yellow structure was created by a whole team of volunteers who stuck and painted IKEA cardboard boxes to produce this ephemeral structure, the brainchild of Richard Malloy a New Zealand artist.
The amazing creations of Raqib Shaw who I have seen previously exhibited in India with references to Javanese Mythology and mythical creatures. He uses the most intricate painting method with enamel paint and diamante pieces which create a three D effect and which is so elaborate a process it can take years to complete. Seemingly idyllic at a distance on closer consideration the animals and persons can be quite ferocious.
The exhibits will now be taken down and stored except for those ones which are so ephemeral that they will be dismantled. IN PNG of course these costumes and spirit houses are left at the mercy of the weather which gradually returns them to the earth from where they came.