All of my work is about, and starts with who I am, and they (my ancestors) are part of who I am.
– Daniel Boyd
Kukje Gallery is pleased to present Treasure Island, a solo exhibition of the Australian contemporary artist Daniel Boyd on view from June 17 through August 1, 2021. The exhibition will be Boyd’s second solo presentation with the gallery following Recalcitrant Radiance, which was held at the gallery’s Busan space in 2019, and also marks the artist’s first exhibition in Seoul. Installed across the gallery’s K1 and K2 spaces, Treasure Island will present new paintings and multimedia works. Through his art, Boyd has continuously questioned the hegemonic Western gaze in interpreting Australian history and has challenged typical notions of perception. Comprised of approximately 25 new works, Treasure Island continues to develop the artist’s practice of reinterpreting the world’s order across different temporalities and borders, through literature, cinema, and history.
Treasure Island alludes to the eponymous novel by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). Boyd first began referencing the novel early in his artistic career, as part of his No Beard series (2005-2009) in which he depicted famous figures in Australian colonial history such as Captain James Cook and Sir Joseph Banks, but using piracy as a way to reframe these historical icons. Two works, Untitled (FAEORIR) and Untitled (TIM), directly touch on the novel; the former paints a portrait of the author and the latter depicts the map of Treasure Island. The exhibition also showcases a series of new paintings inspired by personal objects once owned by Stevenson which are now held in the University of Sydney’s Chau Chak Wing Museum collection. In particular, Boyd draws inspiration from a colorful dinner plate Stevenson once used and owned. Using this reference as a starting point, the artist explores different ways in engaging with Treasure Island and touches on his interest in collections and institutions, and the ways in which objects accumulate associations as they move between contexts. Boyd’s research-based commission entitled Pediment/Impediment (2020) is currently on view at the Chau Chak Wing Museum until June 27, 2021.
Several works in the show reference the mutiny on the HMS Bounty in 1789, a significant historical event that ties together the history of the South Pacific and its cinematic representations. In Untitled (POMOTB), Boyd paints the poster image of the MGM blockbuster Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), which tells a fictionalized story of the historical mutiny. The artist had previously worked with imagery depicting the actress Tarita Teri'ipaia from the movie in Untitled (TBONSSWM) (2020), questioning the cannoned notion of “beauty” and the authority behind such designation of value in popular culture. The work also ties in with Untitled (AMMBGWWFTB), a unique vinyl and mirror piece that is framed by redwood from the bow of an HMS Bounty replica, which is portrayed in the painting Untitled (FFITFFF). In exploring these themes, Boyd pointedly shows the ways in which Eurocentric views have controlled historical narratives and perspectives through cinema, literature, and popular culture.
The exhibition also engages with the artist’s personal roots, expanding and reframing the narrative through depictions of his family and ancestors who had been marginalized in Western historical narratives. Untitled (GGASOLIWPS) depicts his great-grandfather, Harry Mossman, on the Great Barrier Reef Expedition with Paul Sexton, circa 1928. Mossman was a part of the Stolen Generation, during which Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families by the government. In another powerful image, Untitled (TDHFTC), Boyd’s sister is shown getting ready for a traditional dance performance, which had been passed down with visible and invisible changes throughout colonial history. By sharing these personal images, Boyd connects his personal experiences and heritage to his ongoing interest in recalibrating the historical lens through which we view dominant history.
Boyd continues to cover much of his paintings with clear, convex dots of glue applied directly onto the canvas, which act as “lenses” through which one views the world. The artist explains that they are “about perception and how we collectively understand something… about plurality or multiplicity.” Each dot conveys and visualizes the calculated information between black and white, darkness and light. The opaque, negative space in between implies a lost history or knowledge; in this way, the viewer understands the work in actively connecting the domains between the positive and the negative, and realigning the viewpoints between the past and present. Boyd’s works connect time and space, wherein the viewer must recognize the space and relationship between him/herself and others, and explore multiplicity by acknowledging these differences.
Boyd translates this signature technique into video form, presented for the first time in Korea. Entitled RIVERS, the video is accompanied by sounds developed in collaboration with Leo James, a producer and DJ based in Melbourne. The video, also consisting of numerous dots, relates to his paintings through his continued exploration of the ideas of light, space, and darkness. As the artist explains, “The video works look at dark matter as a metaphor to… how we as humans relate to time and space, or acknowledging that connection to the expansion of the universe.” As such, the work relates back to the French philosopher Édouard Glissant, a noted figure in Boyd’s oeuvre who had once said, “The experience of the abyss is inside and outside of the abyss.” This highly symbolic exhibition will provide an opportunity to fully engage with the artist’s practice in challenging our own ideas of perception, historical narratives, and the collective consciousness of humanity. By sharing his own identity and recalling collective memory, Boyd’s works speak a new narrative that transcends the historical boundaries of Australia, adding universality and touching upon his deep contemplation on our relationship to the universe.
About the Artist
Daniel Boyd (b. 1982, born in Cairns, Australia) is based in Sydney and has exhibited his work nationally and internationally since 2005. He has participated in major biennales and exhibitions including Mondialité, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Asad Raza at the Boghossian Foundation, Villa Empain, Brussels (2017); and All the World's Futures, the 56th Venice Biennale (2015) curated by Okwui Enwezor. Last year, Boyd unveiled a series of three major video installations for his solo presentation VIDEO WORKS at Carriageworks, Sydney’s largest multi-arts urban cultural venue. He was the recipient of the 2014 Bulgari Art Award, and For Our Country (2019), a memorial designed in collaboration with the Melbourne-based architecture studio Edition Office, received accolades at the 2020 ACT Architecture Awards by winning across four different categories. His works are in the collections of the Natural History Museum, London; Kadist Collection, Paris; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; as well as numerous private collections.