September 21-26, 2011
COEX, Seoul

KIAF/11 Guest Country Australia

Participating Galleries:
Total of 17 Galleries
65 Artists
Australian Commercial Galleries Association
Supported by:
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Australian Trade Commission
Australia Council for the Arts
Australian Embassy in Korea

For further information on KIAF/11, visit
KIAF/11 Guest Country, Australia

SEY ARTNET worked as a publicist of the Australian Guest Country program for KIAF/11. 
The Korea International Art Fair (KIAF 2011) provided the opportunity for the public to learn about contemporary Australian art. As Australia was designated as KIAF/11’s guest country, 17 Australian galleries presented 65 artists from the nation. This was the largest representation of contemporary Australian art at any international art fair to date and the significance is great as 2011 marked the 50 year anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Australia. The support from the Australian government has been openhanded and the participating artists for the guest country program comprise only of Australians. Among the 65 artists, 15 visited Korea to be present at KIAF/11 and this include high-profile artists such as Ben Quilty, Robert Owen, Idris Murphy and many others.

About Australian Contemporary Art at KIAF
1. Indigenous Australian Art
The word ‘Aborigine’ refers to the native people who lived in Australia since tens of thousands of years ago. When the European explorers first discovered Australia in the 17th century, there were approximately a million Aborigine people. Today only 2% of the entire Australian population, consists of Aborigine people, the number has decreased to less than 0.4 million. Yet in spite of the decrease in population, the art form belonging to this indigenous people takes up some 30% of the Australian art market proving its popularity among collectors. Furthermore in the eyes of western people it is recognized as being the oldest form of art on Earth, while visually presenting a new style that appeals to them. Indigenous Australian Art has been researched for many decades and through such studies it has built an international reputation. There were some 300 tribal races in Australia and each race had their own individual styles in art using a variety of different materials, developing each of their methods. Yet today, their representational form is ‘dot painting’ – the use of the ‘dot’ as the basic unit creating a hallucinative abstract expression. In terms of the context, the paintings focus on primitive religion relating to ‘dream-time’[1], and they contain a spiritual importance associated with myths and totems connected to this religion. Interestingly, they also lend contemporary feeling as the artistic style is somewhat similar to 20th century abstract painting.
Some acclaimed names working in this art genre include the 87 year old great artist Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori (represented by Alcaston Gallery), whose work is collected extensively by many art museums; Gunybi Ganambarr (Annandale Galleries), who paints on strips of wood bark; Kuruwarriyingathi Bijarrb Paula Paul (Alcaston Gallery); Gladdy Kemarre (Mossenson Galleries); these are some of the artists representing Indigenous Australian Art at KIAF/11.
2. Natural Landscape Paintings of Australia
Different natural landscapes consisting of deserts, primeval forests, open fields and blue seas, are important inspirational resources for artists in Australia. The most notable of all the artists working in this genre is Imants Tillers represented by Arc One Gallery, who is a painter, a curator and a writer. His artworks are internationally recognized and he represented Australia at the San Paolo Biennale (1975), Kassel Documenta (1982) and Venice Biennale (1986). Images of Australian landscape layered with writings and symbols are depicted on connected canvas boards. The works concentrate on contemporary discourses such as the center and the periphery, migration and diaspora, showing his introspection.
There are also paintings in this genre created by artists such as Richard Dunlop (James Makin Gallery) and Idris Murphy (King Street Gallery).
3. High-profile Artists in the Australian Contemporary Art World
The artists belonging to this category are household names in Australia, who have been recognized by art critics and built an international reputation through biennales and museum exhibitions. Their artworks have been collected extensively and many of them have received prestigious awards.
Born in 1937, Robert Owen (Arc One Gallery) has worked for 40 years in minimal painting and sculpture and taught at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology as a professor of sculpture. In 2002, he received an Australian Council Emeritus Award for life-long service to the arts. In 2004, a special exhibition dedicated to the artist, ‘Robert Owen: Different Lights Cast Different Shadows’ was organized by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. His sculpture is on display within the open grounds of the Olympic Park.
A 38-year-old-Sydneyite, Ben Quilty (Jan Murphy Gallery) is a popular star in the Australian art world, often connoted with adjectives such as ‘HOT’, ‘SEXY’. He became famous for his portrait paintings using bold and energetic brush strokes capturing the distinct features of people. His series on famous Australians attracted much public attention. In 2011 he was awarded with the oldest and most prestigious art award in Australia, the Archibald Prize. Jan Murphy Gallery’s exhibition at KIAF/11 is comprised only of the works by Ben Quilty showing confidence in this young artist’s talent.
Some other artists include Ken Whisson (Niagara Gallery), who is planning a retrospective exhibition at the Australian Contemporary Museum of Art next year; Godwin Bradbeer (James Makin Gallery), who already has a number of collectors in Korea; Noel McKenna (Niagara Gallery), who depicts ordinary space in a unusual way; Elizabeth Cummings (King Street Gallery), selected by the Australian Art Collectors’ magazine as one of the fifty most collectible artworks, and of course there are many others ranking high in the art world.
4. Emerging Artists with Strong Experimental Tendencies.
If you are curious about the future of Australian contemporary art, attention should be given to artists such as Giles Ryder (Annandale Galleries), Justine Khamara (Arc One Gallery), Grant Nimmo (Anna Pappas Gallery), Julia Davies (Conny Deitzschold Gallery), Colin Duncan (Conny Deitzschold Gallery), Victoria Reichelt (Dianne Tanzer Gallery + Projects), Debra Dawes (Gallery Barry Keldoulis), Joan Ross (Gallery Barry Keldoulis).

[1] It is referred to as being ‘oneiric’, dreamlike. This is the main subject associated with the Indigenous Australian culture, and it indicates the period before and during the creation of Earth. (Wikipedia)