Ngununggula presents works by artists Abdul-Rahman Abdullah and Abdul Abdullah alongside Tracey Moffatt

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Ngununggula presents works by artists Abdul-Rahman Abdullah and Abdul Abdullah alongside Tracey Moffatt
Tracey Moffatt, Doomed (still), 2007, from the series Montages, DVD, Screening Format: DVD (colour, sound), duration 10 minutes, continuous loop, Edition of 499. Courtesy line: Courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.

BOWRAL.- Ngununggula, the Southern Highlands’ first regional art gallery, will present ambitious new and existing works by leading contemporary artists and brothers Abdul-Rahman Abdullah and Abdul Abdullah in dialogue with four significant video installations by one of their greatest influences, Tracey Moffatt AO. For the exhibition, titled Land Abounds, the Abdullah brothers will each present a new large-scale commissioned artwork responding to the Southern Highlands’ landscape and the complexity of our shared history, as well as existing works never before exhibited in NSW. Presented free to the public from 28 May - 24 July 2022, the exhibition draws on collective memory and experience, unpacking how the representation and perpetuation of culture, knowledge, and tradition can be transferred through storytelling.

Director of Ngununggula Megan Monte said: “As a centre for art and culture in the Southern Highlands, we’re excited to bring three of Australia’s most compelling artists to the region with works that encourage thought and discourse. The opportunity to show Tracey Moffatt alongside the Abdullah brothers allows us to uncover new contexts and unseen connections between the artists’ practices, the exhibition working to reframe pervasive cultural perspectives.”

Land Abounds is woven together by the artists’ personal connections to one another. Rarely presented side-by-side, the Abdullah brothers share a visual language through their artistic practice and identify Tracey Moffatt as an important influence and mentor throughout their careers.

Artist Abdul-Rahman Abdullah said: “I think it's really important that my brother and I share a platform. We overlap in so many different ways, and our work is like an ongoing conversation we're having about the worlds we're experiencing. Tracey Moffat is an iconic figure to both of us. She holds a mirror up to a social landscape that we all understand, exposing the dynamics of power that we consume and enact. The ways in which our works engage and respond to each other creates a multi-layered dialogue that always seems to come back to ideas of perception and power. What dictates our perceptions of the world, how are we perceived and how do we participate in that equation with autonomy. Land Abounds asks some fundamental questions and it's going to be very interesting to see what sort of answers we get.”

Artist Abdul Abdullah said: "It's a privilege for both my brother and I to work alongside Tracey Moffatt. Her ongoing contributions to the critical discourse have defined how we understand and consume contemporary art in Australia. In terms of a cultural and critical legacy we both owe her so much. I believe my brother and I have inherited a shared sense of humour when engaging serious subject matter, and taking a page out of Tracey's book, we have used it to carve out our own place in the conversation."

Presented together in one gallery space will be the two newly commissioned works by Abdul-Rahman and Abdul Abdullah, created by the artists as a result of direct and personal encounters with the landscape in the Southern Highlands. On one wall, Abdul Abdullah’s 10-metre-wide multi-panel painting titled Legacy assets depicts a bird’s-eye view of the landscape of Berrima. Taking a contemporary perspective on traditional Euro-centric understandings of the landscape, the work retraces the vantage points and sightlines in the Southern Highlands of 19th and 20th century painters like Arthur Streeton and Joseph Lycett. Compiling visual references to create one vast landscape, the work is vandalised and mutated by overlaid text that looks to challenge historical perspectives and claim space in the ongoing discourse.

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah’s new work titled Dead Horse, featuring a life-size wooden carving of a horse, will lie on the floor in front of his brother’s painted vista. An animal familiar to the Southern Highlands and often perceived as a trophy of privilege, the work reflects on the violence of ownership and audiences are invited to contemplate whether the horse is lifeless or sleeping.

Never before seen in NSW, existing works by the brothers on display include Abdul-Rahman Abdullah’s installation The Dogs, which features three carved wooden dogs positioned underneath a group of hanging chandeliers, and a series of large-scale machine embroidered tapestries of hands by Abdul Abdullah titled Breach, Reach, Together 1 and Together 2.

Enhancing and enriching the Abdullah brothers’ works, four video installations by Tracey Moffatt titled Love, Doomed, Other and Revolution will be presented throughout the gallery space. These significant montage films interrogate the nature of representation, stitching together excerpts from iconic Hollywood films, telemovies and arthouse cinema to create highly charged compositions that reveal the ways in which common stereotypes in popular cinema come to inform our collective cultural imagination.

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