Interrogating Colonial Narratives at National Gallery of Australia | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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Interrogating Colonial Narratives at National Gallery of Australia

“The conciliation” (1840) Benjamin Duterrau, Oil on canvas,
(Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Purchased with assistance from the Friends of the Museum Fund and the Murray Fund, 1945)

The National Gallery of Australia in Parkes is hosting an exhibition of works “The National Picture: The Art of Tasmania’s Black War,” which looks at Tasmania’s history and the colonial art produced in that period. The show runs through July 29.

On display are works by Tasmanian Aboriginal people of the time in dialogue with contemporary artists of today. The show looks at the representation of the Tasmanian Aboriginals from the British settler’s point of view. “The result is a revelatory reconsideration of a key element of Australia’s colonial past,” the museum says. Aboriginal oral history are placed alongside artworks from the 20th and 21st centuries together with colonial portraits of Aboriginal people, shedding light on events that are of national and international significance.

The exhibition focuses on the colonial artist Benjamin Duterrau, an under-examined figure in art history but of significant importance. According to the museum, “the show focuses on the controversial ‘Conciliator,’ George Augustus Robinson; and the Tasmanian Aboriginal people he attempted to ‘pacify.’ It spans the commencement of the ‘Black War,’ which led to the declaration of martial law in Van Diemen’s Land in 1828, the beginnings of Robinson’s ‘Friendly Mission,’ to Duterrau’s death in 1851.”

“It is vital that we, as a nation, revisit colonial imagery in the context of this traumatic and violent period in Tasmania’s history,” said Franchesca Cubillo, NGA Senior Curator Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art. “While we can never right the wrongs of the past, we can work towards understanding our shared history with respect, patience, and humility.”

“The National Picture: The Art of Tasmania’s Black War” runs through July 29, 2018, at National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Pl E, Parkes ACT 2600, Australia.

For details, visit:

Click on the slideshow for a sneak peek at the exhibition.

Founder: Louise Blouin