Ramesh Nithiyendran: Mud men at the National Gallery of Australia
- When 30 Jul 2016 - 26 Feb 2017
Parkes Place, Parkes, Canberra ACT 2600
Five specially commissioned large-scale sculptures by artist and UNSW Art & Design MFA graduate, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, will soon be installed in the Contemporary galleries at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in Canberra.
Nithiyendran's career trajectory has been spectacular. He was a finalist in the Blake Prize (2013) and the John Fries Award (2014) and was awarded the 2014 NSW Visual Arts Fellowship (emerging) administered through Arts NSW. In 2015 he was the recipient of the Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Art Award worth $50,000, which is considered the premier national award for artists working in ceramics.
According to Nithiyendran, Mud Men is his most ambitious project to date, representing the culmination of years of research and experimentation. To produce this challenging new installation he has worked closely with P&S Design and Construction to engineer new forms and display devices in order to present such large-scale ceramic works.
The sculptures are informed by the symbolic significance and context of Australia’s national visual art institution and collection. As a result, Mud Men is a series of ‘new age idols’ that consider the politics of globalisation, identity, colonialism, the monument, and idolatry.
According to Senior Curator of Contemporary Art Practice at the NGA, Jaklyn Babington, Nithiyendran's sculptures “appear to strut and shout, Look at me! I’m raw and garish. I’m atheist, Hindu, Christian, feminist, queer and gender fluid. I’m exotic and everyday.” In fact, according to Babington, Nithiyendran's art elicits a wide range of reactions from viewers, from “fits of giggles, wonderment and critical celebration to rankle and disgust”. In provoking these responses, he has repositioned ceramics in the spotlight of the ‘now’; off-sided the purists; and forced an expanded discussion of Australian contemporary art.
Babington further notes “With the five sculptures that comprise his NGA installation, Nithiyendran embodies the complex identity of a ‘future’ Asian art collection. By playfully referencing the framing of Asian art in collecting institutions such as the NGA, Nithiyendran provides us with his version of what a contemporary collection from the region might look like at the other end of this Asian century.”
Ramesh Nithiyendran is delivering a free public artist talk at the NGA at 2pm on Saturday, 30 July.
Mud Men is on display from 30 July 2016 to 26 February 2017.