Christian THOMPSON, Untitled #8 [red kangaroo paw] Enlarge 1 /1

Christian THOMPSON

Bidjara people

Gawler, South Australia, Australia born 1978

  • 1996-98: Queensland 1998-99: Melbourne

Untitled #8 [red kangaroo paw] 2008
Collection Title: Australian Graffiti
Place made: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Materials & Technique: photographs, C-Type print

Dimensions: 100.0 h x 100.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2009
Accession No: NGA 2009.2.8
Subject: Australia, Plants
Image rights: Courtesy of Michael Reid, Sydney

Through self-portraiture Thompson conveys a strong sense of identity and a flair for theatrics.The Australian graffiti series features 12 photographic self-portraits and a film (featuring a close-up of his father’s face while he slowly, mesmerisingly, twirls his moustache). The portraits are handsome, androgynous, clean-cut faces—a coy look here, a slight smile there—that hint at an unshared secret or simply show the pleasure of the pose. The artist is resplendent in frontal pose, adorned with different native floral carnival-like crowns, eyes shaded, obscuring both his and the viewer’s vision, forcing Thompson to peer through or under his foliage. This unwavering glare is challenging us to maintain contact, has us searching for his eyes and asking is he curious about us, is he hiding, is he questioning our gaze? Thompson’s stately poses, like those in oil paintings of aristocrats of the past, are enlivened through his photographs.

The clash of references in the remaining photographs in the series—traditional culture, the regal poses and retro disco 1980s fashion, resplendent with glitter, shimmery tassels and sequins juxtaposed with native floral crowns—hint at the different worlds Thompson seamlessly moves between, those of contemporary pop culture and traditional culture. The odd portrait of a brooding, Triffid-like figure, posed almost like a police mug shot, with black gum leaves and flowers erupting out of a black hoodie, is somewhat out of place amongst the glamorous others. This juxtaposition captures our imagination and, although slightly devilish, engages in a fascinating way with each image, evoking a different reaction, a different wonderment at what is being played out, at what is being told.

Tina Baum


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Franchesca Cubillo and Wally Caruana (eds) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art: collection highlights National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2010

Untitled  8 [Red Kangaroo Paw] is one of 12 photographic self-portraits comprising Christian Thompson’s Australian Graffiti series, which also includes a film (featuring a close-up of his father’s face while he slowly, mesmerisingly, twirls his moustache). The portraits are handsome, androgynous, clean-cut faces—a coy look here, a slight smile there—that hint at a secret, or simply show the pleasure of the pose.

Adorned with different native floral carnival-like crowns, Thompson’s eyes are shaded; his vision (and the viewer’s) is obscured. Peering through or under the foliage, his unwavering glare challenges us to maintain contact, has us searching for his eyes and asking is he curious about us, is he hiding, is he questioning our gaze?

The stately frontal poses, like those in paintings of past aristocrats in their finery, are enlivened through Thompson’s strong sense of identity and flair for theatrics.

The clash of references in the series—native flowers, regal poses and retro 1980s disco outfits—hint at the different worlds Thompson seamlessly moves between, those of contemporary pop and traditional culture. This juxtaposition of images, although slightly devilish, engages in a fascinating way; each one evokes a different reaction, a different wonderment at what is being played out, at what story is being told.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014

克里斯蒂安·汤普森(Christian Thompson)
《无题第8号》(Untitled #8)
[红袋鼠爪] [red kangaroo paw] 2008年
收藏标题:澳大利亚涂鸦
澳大利亚维多利亚州墨尔本
摄影,照片,C型打印
100.0 (高) x 100.0 (宽)厘米
2009年购买
收录号:NGA 2009.2.8
由艺术家与Gabrielle Pizzi画廊提供

通过自画像,汤普森表达了一种强烈的认同感和戏剧演出方面的天赋。《澳大利亚涂鸦》系列有12张摄影自拍照片和一张胶片(一个呈现他父亲面部的特写镜头:他慢慢地、认真地捻弄胡须)。照片上的面庞性别特征不明显,俊朗清秀,这张面容羞涩,那张莞尔一笑,暗示了独享的秘密或仅仅表现姿势的乐趣。艺术家的额头造型十分华丽,装饰有用澳洲本土植物制成的嘉年华花冠,遮蔽住双眼,模糊了他和观赏者的视线,迫使汤普森透过植物或从植物下方凝视。他坚定的目光挑战我们保持眼神接触,迫使我们找寻他的眼睛,不禁要问,他对我们感兴趣吗?他是在躲藏吗?他在质疑我们的注视吗?汤普森庄严的姿势,就像过去贵族油画肖像中的姿势一样,通过他的照片获得生机。

系列中其他照片的参照冲突:传统文化、庄严姿势和复古迪斯科,1980年代华丽的时尚,亮闪闪的流苏与亮片结合当地植物编成的花冠,暗示汤普森应对不同世界游刃有余,即当代通俗文化和传统文化。一张沉思状、看似巨型植物的人物照有些古怪,看姿势很像警察面部照片,从黑色的风帽衣喷发出黑色的桉叶和桉花,与其他迷人的照片有点格格不入。这样的并列抓住了我们的想象力,尽管略显异常,却以有趣的方式与各肖像相得益彰,唤起不同的反应,不同的惊叹,上演了什么,讲述了什么。

Tina Baum
蒂娜·鲍姆


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra