Review: Land Abounds

July 1st 2022

Exterior of Ngununggula image by Tamara Dean, 2021

  • Abdul Abdullah and Abdul-Rahman Abdullah :: Interview with Victoria Hall
This is a collaboration you will not want to miss!
Land Abounds showcases a dynamic trio of leading contemporary artists, featuring brothers Abdul Abdullah and Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, alongside the iconic Tracey Moffatt. The exhibition is at Ngununggula, a gallery space named after the Gundungurra word for ‘belonging’. Excitingly, Ngununggula is the first regional gallery in the Southern Highlands, opening its doors back in October 2021.
Originally an old dairy at Retford Park, the building has been lovingly transformed into a vibrant gallery space with a heritage-sensitive redesign by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer. The gallery is surrounded by rolling hills and as you move through the building you can sneak glimpses of the beautiful scenery outside. I found the tranquillity of the location gave space to digest and absorb the experience of the exhibition.

Land Abounds tackles confronting topics, unpicking collective memories and experiences. The works in the collection explore the role contemporary art plays in storytelling, as well as preserving culture, knowledge, and tradition. The exhibition features newly commissioned works, whilst revisiting some familiar works, and some pieces that I am very excited to see in real life.

Brothers Abdul Abdullah and Abdul-Rahman Abdullah are extremely interesting creatives in their own rights. Within their individual processes, the brothers explore common themes of identity, society, and culture. Both brothers draw heavily from their Malay/Indonesian and Australian heritage and Muslim faith, however, the brothers bring different approaches and perspectives to these topics. Abdul works across multiple media, including painting, photography, and portraiture, whilst Abdul-Rahman works in hyper realistic sculpture and installation. Land Abounds is a rare opportunity to experience the brothers’ works together.

Tracey Moffatt is considered one of Australia’s most renowned artists. Using photography and film to explore Aboriginal identity in her work, she has been a prominent creative influence for both Abdul and Abdul-Rahman.

Curator Megan Monte has subtly integrated Tracey Moffatt’s videos work titled Love, Doomed, Other and Revolution into the show, allowing the video works to add new narratives and layers to the exhibition. There is something rather special in the threads that connect the works of these three artists, energizing the whole experience.

Land Abounds, image by Zan Wimberley, 2022

The hero space within Land Abounds holds Abdul-Rahman’s Dead Horse (a very appropriate name for a life-sized wooden carving of a dead horse), Tracey’s video work Other and Abduls 10-meter multi-panelled painting Legacy Assets. This powerful tryptic of work packs quite a punch. The two large works by the brothers for this space were commissioned specifically for this show, responding directly to the landscape of the Southern Highlands. Abdul’s provocative painting Legacy Assets takes a contemporary look at the classical Eurocentric approach to landscape. The work also includes text challenging historical perspectives, sparking a wider discussion.

Abdul-Rahman’s Dead Horse is a contrast to the energy of Abdul’s confrontational statement. The hyper-realistic sculpture of a lifeless horse is an emotive work, bringing a weight and stillness to the space. The sculpture contemplates the relationship of humanity and horse, considering the ethics of ownership. The rural and agricultural setting of the gallery makes this all the more relevant, continuing the conversation with the audience into the landscape around them.

Land Abounds, image by Zan Wimberley, 2022

Land Abounds also includes existing works by both brothers, that excitingly have never been seen before in NSW. This includes the Abdul-Rahman installation The Dogs, an energetic work which features three carved wooden dogs running full speed through beaming extravagant chandeliers, snarling and snapping their teeth. This work is high-pace, hyper realistic and be prepared to be stopped in your tracks.

Land Abounds, image by Zan Wimberley, 2022

Visiting Ngununggula is a brilliant day trip destination, offering challenging art to get your teeth into, and the opportunity to soak up the beautiful surroundings whilst sitting back and enjoying some nourishing food at on-site café, Hearth. Land Abounds is an ambitious show and it makes me very excited to see what the future holds for Ngununggula.

To hear more about Land Abounds from brothers Abdul Abdullah and Abdul-Rahmans themselves, check out our Culture Guide chat up top.

WHO: Abdul Abdullah, Abdul-Rahman Abdullah and Tracey Moffatt
WHAT: Land Abounds
WHERE: Ngununggula, 1 Art Gallery Lane, Bowral NSW 2576
WHEN: 28 May – 24 July 2022
HOW MUCH: Free entry, more info here


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