26 May – 10 September 2017
Defying Empire features Australian contemporary art by 30 established, mid-career and emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists from each state and territory. This major exhibition will enable Australian Indigenous art to be showcased on a national and international level, highlighting the continued excellence and diversity of Indigenous practice today.
The exhibition looks at the ongoing resilience of Australia’s Indigenous people since first contact with the British Empire, through to the fight for recognition in the 1967 Referendum and ongoing activism to the present day. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of this pivotal event, the exhibition is the largest survey show of Indigenous art yet presented by the NGA. Focusing on issues relating to identity, history, politics, connections to Country and community, the exhibition demonstrates the impressive and deeply interesting range of contemporary Indigenous art practice.
Defying Empire will include works encompassing painting on canvas and bark, sculpture, weaving, new media, works on paper including prints and photography, metalwork, glasswork and installation work. The works selected not only create an exhibition of outstanding quality but also critically reference this significant milestone.
Karla Dickens Assimilated Warriors 2014. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 2016
Yhonnie Scarce, Kokatha/Nukunu peoples, Thunder Raining Poison 2015. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 2016. Photo: Janelle Low