'Diaspora' 1992 oilstick, gouache, synthetic polymer paint Collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa | 
'Izkliede' 1994  gouache, synthetic polymer paint From the Gene and Brian Sherman Collection | 
'Farewell to reason' 1996  oil and oil stick, synthetic polymer paint on prepared canvas boards Collection of the National Gallery of Australia

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The 1980s bringing the periphery centre stage

In the 1980s Imants Tillers’ art received considerable national and international recognition and in 1986 he was selected to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale. Tillers’ approach of re-creating visual art images from reproductions and transforming them in his Canvasboard System is linked with his interest in debates around centres and peripheries. In particular he was interested in finding ways of bringing so-called peripheral cultures like Australia and New Zealand into dialogue with more dominant cultures on the world stage.

Tillers’ interest in combining Australian, German and Latvian images also relates to his familial background, having grown up as the child of Latvian refugees who migrated to Australia from a displaced persons camp in Germany in 1949. His experiences growing up as part of two cultures has informed his interest in identity and displacement, loss and chance encounters across cultural divides. The possibility of chance meetings and coincidence is a vital aspect of the work. For example, although he may start off with a plan around a particular subject, Tillers is continually open to surprising parallels or synchronicities that occur while he is working on a painting, adding to the vitality of the whole.

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