Ryan Presley

Ryan Presley’s new series of paintings is the fruit of one month spent in Tweed Regional Gallery’s Nancy Fairfax Artist-in-Residence Studio.

Born in Alice Spring and based in Brisbane, Presley audits and critiques his locale to mount a larger interrogation of the politics of power. Moving through a variety of artistic mediums and expressions – including print-making, oil painting, sculpture and new media – his approach involves a questioning and negating of historical and contemporary contexts. The artist draws from experiences central to his own mixed heritage – his father’s family is Marri Ngarr originating from the Moyle River region in the Northern Territory, while his mother’s family were Scandinavian immigrants – to contribute alternate insights into the sociocultural nature of colonial Australia, past and present.

Presley’s new work explores the deeply embedded links between religion, economics, and power that have existed for centuries in colonial, and postcolonial, societies of the ‘West’. Engaging with the religious vehicle of icon painting, he focuses on how these connections have manifested in Australian society and are evident in many facets of our everyday lives, highlighting their impact the lives of Aboriginal Australians. The artist reflects, ‘During my residency I wanted to learn more about the rise of the sugar cane industry that is a prominent part of the landscape around Wollumbin … As I was not familiar with the Northern Rivers region, I was keen to learn more about the colonial histories there to better understand the dispossession scenarios that took place in the area.’ The works reflect elements of distinct Tweed histories that continue to have a legacy in the Northern Rivers region, exploring ‘the imposition of incompatible political value systems of colonial enterprise.’

Ryan Presley | For What It’s Worth (Not for Sale)
3 August – 25 November 2018
Tweed Regional Gallery, NSW


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