Australian artist Adnate is the subject of a solo exhibition at the Nanda/Hobbs gallery in Sydney titled ‘Tomorrow’s Past’. The artist has garnered an international following for his portrait works that celebrate the flourishing indigenous cultures of Australia both in the bush and urban cityscapes. The gallery exhibition marks a departure for the street artist whose large scale works can be seen in the streets of many metropolitan cities across the world including New York and his hometown, Melbourne. Despite the artist’s reputation on the street, his extensive exhibition history that stretches back to 2006, including features in the Miami Art Basel in 2014 and group exhibitions in Sydney, place him in the top tier category for street artists across the world.
Adnate’s current exhibition continues his respectful celebration of the Aboriginal people, which has been a strong theme throughout his artistic career, where his latest works combine striking profiles of indigenous people with his vibrant and abstract, creative aesthetic. By putting such personalities under the gallery halls spotlight, Adnate’s art plays a critical role in representing the rich and diverse cultural experience of contemporary Australia. Despite the artists optimistic portrayal of Australia, Adnate and other Australian artists remain insistent, through their works, that there is still a ways to go in regards to understanding and righting the wrongs of the often-forgotten marginalized people of Australia.
In this way Adnate’s work is not a simple portrayal of Australian citizens, but rather an ode to the cultures and landscapes of Australia that have lived on from long before the colonial birth of the country in 1901. This is done through the artist’s adaptation of the Renaissance painting technique of chiaroscuro (shadowing – light and dark) that assists him in creating a narrative that catalogues the Aboriginal people’s strong heritage and affiliation to the land. Respectfully working with a cultural advisor, Adnate uses physical features such as the eye of a young Aboriginal to reflect the hot desert environment, as a means to to portray the way that an Indigenous identity can be understood through their relationship to the landscape of Australia.
This can be seen in many works displayed as part of the exhibition at Nanda/Hobbs, including ‘All That You Knew’ a large portrait of a young aboriginal child decorated with the face paint that has been continued as a tradition from his ancestors. The young child seems to stare directly at its audience, as his bright and wide eyes reflect his cultural upbringing and place in Australia. Meanwhile the strong yellow and green of the background, symbols of contemporary Australian patriotism, are a testament to the significance of his place as an Australian citizen of the 21st century.
Make sure to visit the exhibition in Sydney’s CBD from 25 May to 9 June, to view this painting and others from Adnate’s latest body of work.