Lowanna by Wayne Quilliam
Aboriginal Artist of the Year A/Professor Wayne Quilliams ‘Lowanna’(Beautiful Woman) series of art nudes will feature in one the most exclusive collection of Indigenous artworks ever to leave Australian shores when it opens at the Black Olive in Melbourne and then in Italy in 2011.
Wayne Quilliam radically alters the perception of Indigenous art as he emotionalises the bond between humans and the spirits of the earth. Quilliams world and iconography is replete with irreverent metaphors exploring spirituality and sublime nature with a profane point of view. By manipulating the human form with abstract images he seemingly impregnates his photographs with an essence of life and spirituality.
He analyses and deciphers images of the nude female form and landscapes to engage the viewer. By deconstructing the myth of vulnerability and nudity,Quilliam’s opulent abstraction seduces the subconscious to ponder the hidden. The artist covers, hides and camouflages his works to deconstruct, create and recreate a naked reality. Encapsulated by the spirituality of nature, the artist deliberately covers and exposes photographs to reveal tensions between the act of representation and reality.
This work attempts to humanise the sensuous spiritual connection to Mother Earth, and because sensuality is an instinct that evolves through touch and sight the artwork becomes a living entity. The textured essence of a wilting leaf can be felt as it envelops itself around the soft warm skin of the body in one image as the hard jagged rocks permeate penetrate another. The tough yet brittle skin of the paperbark tree transforms the female form into a living canvas that breaths the trees spirit.
Whilst creating these artworks Quilliam contemplated creation, belonging and love, exploring his humanity and what it means to be an Aboriginal man, why he was chosen to create these images, what is the purpose. He finds an unexplainable and compelling need to immerse himself in his passion, to tell a story, to explain his vision, to highlight the beauty of our earth and the role we play. The creation of this work has been a unique journey; each piece has a story, an experience that is as intriguing as the artwork itself. The images are born of the earth and the spirits that inhabit it, the influence from a benevolent higher power is embedded within the artwork at every level.
Traditional Aboriginal stories and tales have influenced the artist's work to become increasingly intense, mysterious, and probing. Quilliam explains, “To interpret my work is akin to demystifying the link between myth and reality, the process of covering and uncovering the human element of nature; to find depth, meaning and perhaps even a revelation that we are the vision of a ‘creator’. I am intrigued by the differing perceptions of nudity and the role it plays in modern society”.
“I am in a unique position; my professional career has a distinct influence on my creative energy. When working in rural and remote areas of Australia and overseas I have the opportunity to experience the intricate designs ‘Mother Earth’ has created for us and the many stories behind them. Quilliam also discusses how his relationships with the women who pose for the work have influenced the natural design of the artwork. “I began creating this style of work over twenty years ago, setting up small darkrooms in any space I could find and developing black and white images that would be toned with ochres and natural bush dyes that I would collect in my travels. The images are still very important to me as they are all one off’s, they could never be duplicated because the natural materials used changed each time they were used”. “It is the same with the women who allow me to explore the beauty of the female form; each individual has a unique personality that influences how the artwork is formed.
Wayne Quilliam is considered one of Australia’s most prominent Aboriginal photographic artists with more than 130 solo and group exhibitions in Australia, Europe, Asia and the USA including the National Gallery, Artistry/Nellie Caston/ Rushcutters Bay/ Grenfell galleries and the Sydney Opera House, Parliament House(Canberra) and several Australian and International Festivals.
‘Lowanna’ features in exhibitions in Japan, Germany and Russia is many works are included in the permanent Australian Embassy Collections in several countries. He travels the globe as an Australian Art Ambassador most notably at the Cumbre Tajin Festival in Mexico and recently in Guam and Indonesia. Quilliam and his wife Jodie travelled to Europe with two alternative series of ‘Lowanna’ exhibitions presenting his most anticipated collection of spiritual nude works which went on show at Art Centre Berlin and Alexanderplatz, Germany. The exhibition was extended by 4 months due to the public demand. ‘Lowanna Emergence’ was opened by the European Union Ambassador at the Museum of Young Art in Vienna, Austria as a part of the ‘Global Art’ series, Quilliam was the only Australian artist invited to participate.