NewQuay Art Blends Indigenous Design and Modern Execution
The latest addition to the curated collection of public artwork in NewQuay is Untitled 2016, by artist Reko Rennie in collaboration with art delivery studio UAP. Untitled 2016 is installed for public enjoyment at the base of the Aqui Promenade development, in NewQuay Central Laneway. Discover the vibrant artwork and the artist behind it.
About the Artist
Reko Rennie is a multidisciplinary artist who explores Aboriginal identity through contemporary media in installations across the world.
Rennie grew up in Melbourne, but traces indigenous heritage to the Kamilaroi people of northern NSW. Rennie’s full-time career as an artist began in 2009, when he left behind a career as a journalist after coming to see that, in his pursuit to bring Aboriginal culture to the forefront of Australian conversation, art offered more power than journalism.
Drawing on a youth coloured by street-art, his work aims to broaden ideas of contemporary Aboriginal art and self-expression, recognising that Aboriginal identity can be explored as much through present-day references as traditional symbolism. The marriage of these elements is visible in the hallmarks of Rennie’s work, which often includes traditional Kamilaroi iconography brought to life through the juxtaposing use of distinctly urban mediums like graffiti, neon lighting and projections.
By merging these two worlds, Rennie takes on the immense responsibility of staying true to the complexities of Aboriginal culture, while championing its relevance to contemporary urban environments.
A prolific producer of work, Rennie’s most iconic national works include the Songlines projections onto the Sydney Opera House for Vivid Sydney 2016, the Federation2 projections onto Federation Square in Melbourne for White Night 2016, and Always Was, Always Will Be (2012), also in Sydney, which wrapped the façade of a prominent Taylor Square building in painted geometric patterning, referencing traditional Kamilaroi markings.
Rennie’s work has featured in major exhibitions, public commissions and installations in cities across the globe including Berlin, Paris, Jakarta, Shanghai, Hong Kong, New Delhi, New York City, Santa Fe, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, in addition to showings at the Venice Biennale and the Biennal de Cuenca, Ecuador. His work is also held in major national collections including the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales and Art Gallery of Western Australia.
He is a winner and repeat finalist of the Victorian Indigenous Art Awards, a finalist for the 2012 Archibald Prize, and in 2015 was awarded the Australia Council for the Arts fellowship.
About the Work: ‘Untitled 2016’
Produced in collaboration with UAP, Rennie’s work in NewQuay, Untitled 2016, continues his exploration of Aboriginal iconography in the urban environment.
Installed in NewQuay Central Laneway at the base of the recently completed Aqui Promenade development, the artwork is a vibrant panelling comprised of a painted aluminium surface intermittently emblazoned with neon light. The radiant lighting and bold colouring enliven the space, welcoming residents home with a gleaming entryway, while also representing the original indigenous guardianship of the land.
A spirited example of Rennie’s characteristic symbolism, the work uses geometric patterning in pink, blue, black and neon to reference the diamond motif customary of the Kamilaroi tradition. Back-dropped by the metropolitan NewQuay precinct, the artwork creates a connection between Aboriginal culture and the modern landscape, provoking reflection on these co-existing faces of modern Australia. The dynamism of the artwork is an embodiment of the dynamic personality of Melbourne, mirroring our energy and diversity and projecting it back to us.
Untitled 2016 joins a carefully cultivated collection of public artworks in NewQuay that includes sculptures, murals and installations commissioned from leading Australian and international artists and architects.
A distinctive asset to the NewQuay precinct, the provision of public art is consistent with MAB Corporation’s design and development philosophy, reflecting a core commitment to vibrant communities and the integration of art and public space.
Image credit: Dianna Snape
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