Media Release: March, 2010. 

New Deane Gallery exhibition brings indigenous Australian artist Tony Albert to Wellington

Alongside City Gallery’s current main gallery exhibition roundabout°, the Deane Gallery is running a pair of exhibitions by young indigenous Australian artists which deal specifically with the contentious issue of race relations in Australia.

Following Vernon Ah Kee’s solo project, the Deane Gallery is excited to host Brisbane-based artist Tony Albert’s confrontational exhibition PAY ATTENTION (20 November 2010–16 January 2011). Both of these exhibitions focus on the racial division of post-colonial Australia and the often antagonistic relationship between indigenous and settler societies in this country.

Albert’s exhibition comprises large letters fixed to the gallery’s walls, which spell out a demanding expletive. Albert has worked collaboratively to produce this work, enlisting 25 of his close friends to work on the letters. Each has created a thoughtful, individual work which collectively questions the problematic notion of “authenticity” in contemporary Aboriginal art and how the work of young Aboriginal artists is valued and interpreted in the art world.

Two of the letters painted by Tony Albert himself are copied directly from children’s colouring books popular in Australia in the 1980s. These cartoon-like images were intended to depict colonial Australia as a happy and inclusive country. Albert’s pointed appropriation of these images, as well as other works in this confrontational series, questions the veracity of such histories.

These issues will also be teased out in a series of important public programmes around this exhibition, including a panel discussion with the artists and a screening of the proppaNOW documentary which profiles the work of many of Albert’s collaborators.

Tony Albert (b. 1981) is of the Girramay people from Cardwell, North Queensland, Australia. In 2004 Albert completed a degree in Visual Arts majoring in Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art. In 2007 he was awarded the Sunshine Coast Art Prize in Queensland. His work is held in several major public collections including the National Gallery of Australia, Queensland Art Gallery–Gallery of Modern Art and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.


Deane Gallery, City Gallery Wellington

20 November 2010–January 16 2011