Yavuz Gallery is proud to announce its first participation in the 2020 edition of the Armory Show. Located at Booth P9, the gallery will debut a solo presentation by critically acclaimed Australian-artist Abdul Abdullah at the Presents Section.
Titled Custodians, the presentation consists of one large-scale and multi-panelled painting that spans over 11 metres in length. The work depicts an extensive, continuous scene of raging seas, overlaid with numerous figures rendered in Abdullah’s distinctive cartoon familiarity. It is one of the artist’s most ambitious project to date.
Custodians employs a raging sea as metaphor for the difficult journey that people are unwilling to take. Dark and treacherous, the sea roars as a vast obstacle between where they are and where they want to be. Whether the literal obstacle of a person crossing an ocean to seek refuge from war, or seas swallowing the coasts as a result of environmental crises, it speaks to personal journeys people undertake every day to overcome the immense challenges that stand between them and their goals. Custodians takes recent environmental crises as its starting point:
“Regardless of religion, ethnicity or nationality; we as a species are responsible for the ongoing care for the planet we live on. We have an obligation to our children and the generations that come after us to endeavour to leave this place no worse off than how we found it. As Australia burns, as island nations in the Pacific start to disappear, and as the polar ice caps melt, it feels now more than ever we need to come together as a global community to combat the disastrous effects of a climate crisis” – Abdullah
The symbolic figures overlaying the seascape are evocative and embedded with contemporary references. They interweave from an intersection of real and imagined popular culture, political affairs, personal experience and observations. The figures fight and fornicate in an uninhibited tableau – either the pin-balling thoughts of an unhinged artist, or depictions of society gone mad, regardless of its consequences upon future generations.
As a seventh-generation Muslim Australian of mixed ethnicity who grew up in suburban Perth (an ‘outsider amongst outsiders’), Abdullah’s multi-disciplinary practice is motivated by a longstanding concern on the complex feelings of displacement and alienation associated with histories of diaspora and migration. Providing a voice to these rarely told topics, he creates carefully crafted political commentaries that speak of the ‘Other’ and the experiences of marginalised communities. While the fraught dynamic of Muslim experiences have provided the initial framework, Abdullah has consciously expanded his practice to include a broader sense of marginalisation. Intersecting between popular culture, contemporary conflicts and personal experience, Custodians embodies the trajectory of his works that renegotiate histories and create space for alternative possibilities and new conversations. Grounding his outlook with an expansive cultural geography that belies reductive boundaries of nationality, Abdullah represents a new face of emerging artists from the Asia-Pacific region.