DANIEL MUDIE CUNNINGHAM
Assistant director, head curator, Artbank
Daniel Mudie Cunningham has followed Adrienne Doig’s work since 2007, when they were both residing in the Blue Mountains. “I was immediately drawn to the way her work often responded to that environment, but in a way that set her work apart from her peers. Adrienne’s witty form of portraiture depicts self through personas that are both domestic and glamorised; almost like she is an unassuming quotidian superhero stitched on kitschy found objects like Australiana tea towels depicting national flora and fauna.”
The tea towels were used as a backdrop in one body of work, over which Doig’s figure strikes a highly urbane pose amid the cliches of Australian fauna (cockatoos, kangaroos, koalas). Mudie Cunningham curated these works in to an exhibition for MOP in Sydney in 2007 and subsequently acquired them for Artbank’s collection, where they have proven popular with clients.
“Adrienne’s self-portraiture is interesting to me because the serial depiction of self is playfully narcissistic, but without sucking up all the oxygen in the room with a pathological mantra of ‘me-me- me’,” says Mudie Cunningham. “People who enjoy her work probably see the artist as representing a very common human longing for transcendence from banality – the desire to be able to imagine ourselves wilfully inserted into whatever archetypal fantasy, landscape or scene of choice. The irony is that Adrienne upsets the visual tropes of the dominant western culture through the inherent feminist and political commentary. Her work retains a freshness and irreverence in its ability to impart a powerful message while endearing itself to whimsy and play.”
Director, Martin Browne Contemporary
Martin Browne had followed Adrienne Doig’s work for a number of years before offering her a commercial solo exhibition in 2012. “I’ve always been taken with the sly and self-deprecating humour in Adrienne’s works and their clever sense of irony,” he says. In that 2012 show, AD in Arcadia Ego, Doig playfully engaged with Australian art history, embroidering images of local Blue Mountains flora and fauna onto commercially-made tapestries of European forest scenes (themselves woven in China) that she had bought in a market while on a residency in Paris. “In so doing, Doig recalled the European vision of Australia so popularised in the early landscapes of Eugene von Guerard, John Glover, and W.C. Piguenit while at the same time including scenes of her own daily life channelled through iconic images by everyone from Fragonard to Marilyn Monroe.”
Adrienne’s portrayal of self has since shifted ground, evolving with her ideas and vision. The development has continued into an embrace of landscape, both her local environment and the art historical antecedents. “The new works for Look Out! are increasingly about the here and now and the future. Adrienne has always had a very distinctive vision in which her figure is central to the work, but in such a way as she is standing in for the everyman. In the latest work, particularly, she examines the possibility of an apocalyptic future in which she stands in for every Australian.”
Collectors of Doig’s work include Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton and in recent years she has developed an increasing profile amongst institutions.