Cool Hunter Predictions: Zaachariaha Fielding

The artists to watch in the year ahead.

Words: Claire G. Coleman

Zaachariaha Fielding is a legend and a pop-star, the charismatic lead singer of the electronic pop band Electric Fields. He started painting only recently, in 2020, and his work is already highly regarded by many.

His move to visual art was, in his own words, “a Covid-19 silver lining story”. He continued, “My US tour was cancelled because of Covid-19 so I thought that I would connect with the APY studio in Adelaide. I didn’t realise when I first connected, the door which was opening for me.”

When I look at Fielding’s work, I am struck by both its classicality and its modernity. I think of the classical art of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, where Fielding grew up, and of the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat, of remote communities and of the urban landscape of roads, concrete and street art. “I felt an intense, immediate connection to my visual arts practice,” Fielding says, “very much the same connection I have with my music and performance. I love it, my visual arts practice is so important to me. The studio space is an inspiring place. It’s home.”

In Fielding’s work we are reminded that Aboriginal culture is a living culture, the culture of the Aboriginal people who are still the same people, regardless of where we live. Fielding forces us to understand that modern urban Aboriginal culture is still Aboriginal culture, that we live and learn and change and adapt to all challenges that we face. While I don’t know whether he is taking Mimili to the city or the city into the culture of the APY Lands, I don’t think it matters. In the same way it doesn’t really matter if his art is modern or classical. It’s Pitjantjatjara. “The world, my culture, my state of being it’s all there,” he says. “Making art is a therapy. I need it to try and understand the world.”

If somehow you have never heard him sing, I recommend you make the effort, if you have never seen him on stage, you will not be disappointed, if you have not seen his paintings, just look, you need to look.

Featured image above: Zaachariaha Fielding, 405-21AS, 2021. Acrylic on Belgian linen, 300 x 200cm. Courtesy: the artist and APY Gallery, Adelaide.

Featured image below: Zaachariaha Fielding, Untitled, 2020. Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 197 x 151cm. Courtesy: the artist and The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 99, January-March 2022. 

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