Words: Thomas Kusturin
N.Smith Gallery this week announced the representation of Sydney-based artist Joan Ross.
Since the late 1980s, Ross has oscillated between a number of mediums, from drawing, painting, photography and sculpture to installation, video, and virtual reality.
Ross’ imagery demolishes the Romantic mirage of settler-Australian aesthetics; short-circuiting the flat-screen, rebooting a gilt framed illusion, her practice averts an easily digestible relationship with nativity and landscape by placing it under construction.
Notable recent projects include ornamenting the hoarding of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ Sydney Modern expansion and illuminating the façade of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra during the 2021 Enlighten Festival.
The artist’s trademark use of fluorescent yellow and high-visibility clothed figures aggressively marks the eye-sore of colonial intervention. Like animals caught in the headlights, Ross sharpens the audience’s visual acuity on the stakes of claim that guide our collective understanding of home since the first pastoral renderings of an alien nation.
Tacking through themes of property, persecution, power and fluffy pets, Ross’s work comically distinguishes the toxic spillage of Imperial legacy as it manifests in contemporary digital and popular culture. Debunking the rhythm and rhyme, the bad jokes, bed time fictions and popular go-to’s that structure our sense of place, Ross checks White Australian identity against the backdrop of an indigenous people and a First Nation forlorn.
Ross’s debut exhibition with N. Smith Gallery, Sydney opens 2 to 27 November 2021.
This article was originally published 8 July 2021.
Image: Artist Joan Ross in front of her mural at Barangaroo, Sydney. Courtesy: the artist and N.Smith Gallery, Sydney.