Brook Andrew

Brook Andrew, artist news, exhibitions and artworks

THE PUBLIC BODY .02, Artspace, Sydney

leave a comment »

Please join us for the opening of THE PUBLIC BODY .02
Thursday 27th July, 6 – 8 pm
Artspace, Sydney

ThePublicBody2_Invitation_mediumres.104357Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 15.12.04.png

1_Brook Andrew_2009_Even a failing mind feels the tug of historyEven a failing mind feels the tug of history, 2009
from the Danger of Authority series 2009
woodblock print on handmade Japanese paper
76.0 x 61.0 cm (block), 97.0 x 67.0 cm (sheet)
2_Brook Andrew_2011_FlowChart
Flow chart, 
neon, offset-photo lithographs, sapele (Entandrophragma cylindricum)
283.0 x 449.5 x 8.5 cm
Installation view, Brook Andrew: The Right to Offend is Sacred, the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
Photo: Dianna Snape

43 – 51 Cowper Wharf Road
Woolloomooloo NSW, 2011
Gallery Hours: 11am – 5pm, Mon – Fri. And 11am – 6pm Sat & Sun

Written by brookandrew

July 17, 2017 at 1:21 PM

Ian McLean on ‘The Right to Offend is Sacred’

leave a comment »

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 12.08.27
Brook Andrew: The Right to Offend is Sacred

Ian McLean
Published in Artlink: 28 April 2017
Accessible online here.

The point is not that I am a collection of identities, but that I am already an assembly, even a general assembly, or an assemblage.[1]

Brook Andrew is a transdisciplinary rather than cross or inter-disciplinary artist. By this I mean his art is not a conversation between mediums or styles or disciplines, like some Socratic dialogue. Rather he moves between these things in ways that blur traditional disciplinary boundaries. Like Fred Astaire, Andrew seems to know all the moves but like a collective line of cabaret dancers, the various media and stylistic tactics combine into a coherent collaborative voice that is greater than any single one. This trans mode is on full display in the carnivalesque survey of his work at the NGV, The Right to Offend is Sacred. Its transaesthetic along with its transcuration is the most effective channeling of the contemporary trans zeitgeist you are likely to see for some time.

By trans I don’t mean its current derivation from transgender – though those looking for issues of gender will not be disappointed – but a more general trend apparent in nearly all fields in which the desire seems to be collapse traditional hierarchies and binary relations into what I have called elsewhere a trans Ideal – a perpetual openness without closure.

Brook Andrew, dhalaay yuulayn (passionate skin), 2004, enamel paint on anodised aluminium and wood, neon. Collection: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Purchased with funds from the Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2005  © Brook Andrew, courtesy Tolarno Galleries,

Brook Andrew, dhalaay yuulayn (passionate skin), 2004, enamel paint on anodised aluminium and wood, neon. Collection: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Purchased with funds from the Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2005  © Brook Andrew, courtesy Tolarno Galleries

If for some time Andrew has been a leading practitioner of the trans, in The Right to Offend is Sacred not everything melts into the airy realm of the trans Ideal. This is because its wild mixings are grounded in the legacy of colonial culture: the memories and traumas of colonialism hold the delirium of imagery in various orbits. Further, these memories read like dreamscapes, as if the exhibition is a projection of their mixing in Andrew’s unconscious. In this respect The Right to Offend is Sacred is a Dantesque journey through the centre of Andrew’s unconscious world except he doesn’t emerge at the antipodes to find paradise and rejoin his beloved Beatrice. Staying in the underworld, he inhabits what Gordon Bennett, whose legacy Andrew can here surely claim, called a “psychodrama”.

Like Bennett, Andrew has a sharp sense of design and movement, and with recontsructed recontextualised appropriations moves between existing text and imagery as if they are the same thing – which they are in the media world. But the results of Andrew and Bennett’s transaesthetic could not be more different. Bennett’s work has an existential weight – even its humor is black – whereas Andrew’s work has a lightness of being even in its darkest themes. In this respect, Andrew seems to draw as much if not more from the transaesthetic psychodramas of Tracy Moffatt and Destiny Deacon – and one might add Juan Davila and Rea. Echoes of their different practices resonate in The Right to Offend is Sacred, as if they comprise of a hidden personal archive of spirit dancers that Andrew choreographs.

More than almost any artist I can think of today, Andrew takes the transaesthetic to a new level of intensity. As with Bennett and these other artists, the transaesthetic is a cure for an original loss or expulsion. Rather than seek to regain paradise or innocence, Andrews embraces the freedom of the trans as a gift:

There’s a thing about being mixed blood. I think we are special in this full-on black against white hardline dispute. I just woke up one day and thought to engage in a world as I do as an artist; it is important to acknowledge that we come from mixed ancestries.[2]

While ostensibly a survey of his work, it is much more. The success of this exhibition rests less with the presence of individual works – which nevertheless is fabulous – and more in its curation. For someone who doesn’t know his work it would be easy to mistake the exhibition for an installation. Indeed, it would not be a mistake, as curation propels all his work – even that made 25 years ago – into the singular present moment and scene of the exhibition, as if it is some vast transfiguration machine that breathes its own life into things, including his previous work.

In The Right to Offend is Sacred Andrew’s transaesthetic becomes a curatorial imperative in the Enwezor manner.[3] Quoting Judith Butler (see the beginning of this essay) Anthony Gardner aptly called Andrew’s works “assemblages”. Many are in a quite literal sense in that they assemble all manner of documents and objects in vitrines and on walls. But Gardner means more than this. As if caught in some fractal geometry, these assemblages transmutate across the galleries like cells continuously dividing and multiplying into a larger assemblage.

Installation view of Brook Andrew: The Right to Offend is Sacred, Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, 2017

Installation view of Brook Andrew: The Right to Offend is Sacred, Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, 2017. Photo: Wayne Taylor

What grounds the reifying effects of this transfiguration is that this assembling never becomes an abstract movement in its own right. They are assemblages of archives, histories, ideologies, cultures, materials, designs, media, motifs, concepts, memories and forgettings. And, as Gardner points out, of viewers – sweeping them all up into some vast impossible translational exercise. Impossible because translation can never be true to the original but at the same time the original, which always abides in that foreign country called the past, can only speak to the present through translation.

This sense of an inevitable deferral or interruption is built into the structure of the assemblages. While they have an underlying sense of order, their potential hegemony is never quite complete or realised. “This isn’t always”, Gardner says, “a harmonious exercise”.[4] There is a failure, or more accurately refusal, to get to the essence. Something spills over, and there is invariably an excess, a clash, not to mention undertows and dangerous crosscurrents that pull us back to earth, in this case, to the archive and its reverberations of the past in the present.

Installation view of Brook Andrew: The Right to Offend is Sacred, Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, 2017

Installation view of Brook Andrew: The Right to Offend is Sacred, Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, 2017. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Andrew’s transits through the archives of colonialism are not aimed at setting things straight or establishing a new order, but at discovering a postcolonial ethic. The large number of archival portraits of people from across the world, all images of people now dead who lived in places and times that are foreign to us stare back from their place and time at us as if refusing to be buried – “as the dead surround the living, their stares can feel more like reproaches than attractions”. Their very number, lined up in rows across the centre of the central room demands says Gardner, quoting Butler, “a politics of alliance … an ethics of cohabitation”.[5]
But more, this very excess of colonial witnesses pulls us into an undertow of forgotten and repressed histories. This immersive transspace, which rides a thin line between spectacle and carnival, continuously pushes us against the cultural differences and historical traumas of colonial cultures, not in recrimination but like Walter Benjamin compelled by a duty to “wrest tradition away from the conformism that is about to overpower it.” To “have the gift of fanning the spark of hope in the past”, Benjamin wrote, requires you to be “convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins.”[6]

Installation view of Brook Andrew: The Right to Offend is Sacred, Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, 2017

Installation view of Brook Andrew: The Right to Offend is Sacred, Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, 2017. Photo: Wayne Taylor​

  1. ^ Judith Butler quoted in Brook Andrew: The Right to Offend is Sacred, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2017, p. 90. 
  2. ^ Quoted in Judith Ryan, ‘Aesthetics/Medium/Process’ in Brook Andrew: The Right to Offend is Sacred, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2017, p. 6. 
  3. ^ See Ian McLean’s review ‘Postwar: Art between the Pacific and the Atlantic 1945-65’, published 14 November 2016:
  4. ^ Anthony Gardner,
  5. ^ Anthony Gardner,
  6. ^ Benjamin, Walter, ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’ in Hannah Arendt (ed), Illuminations, Bungay, Suffolk: Fontana, 1982, p. 257. 

Ian McLean is Hugh Ramsay Chair of Australian Art History at the University of Melbourne and Senior Research Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Wollongong. He has published extensively on Australian art and particularly Indigenous art. His books include Indigenous Archives The making and Unmaking of Aboriginal Art (with Darren Jorgensen); Rattling Spears A History of Indigenous Australian Art; Double Desire: Transculturation and Indigenous art; How Aborigines Invented the Idea of Contemporary Art; White Aborigines Identity Politics in Australian Art; and The Art of Gordon Bennett (with a chapter by Gordon Bennett).

Written by brookandrew

May 9, 2017 at 10:13 AM

“SPIN” at Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne

leave a comment »

Installation view 1 Brook Andrew SPIN_cropped.Installation view 4 Brook Andrew SPIN

Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne 
Until 20th May, 2017 

In recent years, Brook Andrew has respectfully placed his personal archive centre stage, creating installations that challenge conventional ideas about history, identity and race.

The Right to Offend is Sacred, his current solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, is, he says ‘an entire installation’ incorporating books, magazines, objects, photographs and postcards from his archive.

SPIN is different. It’s my hand in all the works. My drawings, paintings, pastings, movement … It has connections to some of the works at the National Gallery of Victoria but is, once again, defending the rights of alternative or invisible histories and narratives.’

Embracing what he sees is an ongoing repetition of dominant narratives, Brook Andrew’s SPIN has an urgent and forceful rhythm. It asserts itself across nine new works in sweeping metallic brush strokes, theatrical draping, neon, fluorescent colours and bleeding, weeping paint. Images and fragments from his archive are circled, underlined and woven into very physical works signalling a new ‘hands on’ direction in his art.

Press release courtesy of Tolarno Galleries.
Published in Ocula.

Written by brookandrew

April 24, 2017 at 3:10 PM

Posted in 2017, Exhibitions News

Print Release: ‘The Right to Offend is Sacred’

leave a comment »

Custom Nametrent1825

The Right to Offend is Sacred

This is a limited edition series of 3 screenprints printed in 6 colours from 6 stencils. Printed in collaboration with Negative Press

Available unframed for individual sale at $800 incl. gst or as a set for $2,100 incl. gst
Each 75.5 x 92.5 cm. Printed in editions of 20. 

Based on collages made during an ISCP residency in New York City in 2009, Brook Andrew’s The Right to Offend is Sacred revisits, and extends upon, the artist’s extensive print series Danger of Authority. The edition shares its name with Andrew’s incredible, concurrent exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria.

The prints are currently on display at Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne for the duration of Andrew’s solo exhibition SPIN, until 20th May.

Contact Negative Press for further information and to purchase.

Custom Nametrent1827Custom Nametrent1826

Written by brookandrew

April 24, 2017 at 3:02 PM

21st Biennale of Sydney: March 2018

leave a comment »


I am delighted to be participating in the 21st Biennale of Sydney directed by Mami Kataoka. The Biennale will be presented over twelve weeks from 16 March – 11 June next year. 

“The Japanese curator, who has been chief curator at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo since 2003 and is the biennale’s first Asian artistic director, said she was interested in the history of colonisation in Australia, and drew a parallel between the colonisation of Asian regions, highlighting the complexity of the competing ideas about land ownership throughout history. “I had been looking into the idea of nature from a Japanese perspective for quite a long time. But I think there is a beautiful resonance with [Australian] Indigenous culture, and how that would speak with western, modern idea of nature,” she told Guardian Australia.”

Stephanie Convery, more information in The Guardian, here

The preliminary lineup also includes: 
Eija-Liisa Ahtila (Born 1959 in Finland, lives and works in Helsinki)
Ai Weiwei (Born 1957 in China, lives and works in Beijing)
Oliver Beer (Born 1985 in England, lives and works in Paris and London)
Anya Gallaccio (Born 1963 in Scotland, lives and works in San Diego and London)
Laurent Grasso (Born 1972 in France, lives and works in Paris and New York)
N.S. Harsha (Born 1969 in India, lives and works in Mysore)
Mit Jai Inn (Born 1960 in Thailand, lives and works in Chiang Mai)
Kate Newby (Born 1979 in New Zealand, lives and works in Auckland and New York)
Noguchi Rika (Born 1971 in Japan, lives and works in Okinawa)
Nguyen Trinh Thi (Born 1973 in Vietnam, lives and works in Hanoi)
Ciara Phillips (Born 1976 in Canada, lives and works in Glasgow)
Koji Ryui (Born 1976 in Japan, lives and works in Sydney)
Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman, born 1973 in England, and Joe Gerhardt, born 1972 in England, live and work in Brighton)
Yasmin Smith (Born 1984 in Australia, lives and works in Sydney)
George Tjungurrayi (Born c. 1943 in Australia, lives and works in Kintore)
Nicole Wong (Born 1990 in Hong Kong, lives and works in Hong Kong)
Wong Hoy Cheong (Born 1960 in Malaysia, lives and works in Kuala Lumpur)
Yukinori Yanagi (Born 1959 in Japan, lives and works in Hiroshima)
Haegue Yang (Born 1971 in South Korea, lives and works in Berlin and Seoul)
Jun Yang (Born 1975 in China, lives and works in Vienna, Taipei and Yokohama)

Biennale of Sydney website.

Written by brookandrew

April 13, 2017 at 10:56 AM


leave a comment »

Bildschirmfoto 2017-03-13 um 12.19.55.png

Sovereignty is an exhibition focusing upon contemporary art of First Nations peoples of South East Australia, alongside keynote historical works, to explore culturally and linguistically diverse narratives of self-determination, identity, sovereignty and resistance.

Taking the example of Ngurungaeta (Elder) and Wurundjeri leader William Barak (c.1824–1903) as a model – in particular Barak’s role as an artist, activist, leader, diplomat and translator – the exhibition presents the vibrant and diverse visual art and culture of the continuous and distinct nations, language groups and communities of Victoria’s sovereign, Indigenous peoples.

Bringing together new commissions, recent and historical works by over thirty artists, Sovereignty is structured around a set of practices and relationships in which art and society, community and family, history and politics are inextricably connected. A diverse range of discursive and thematic contexts are elaborated: the celebration and assertion of cultural identity and resistance; the significance and inter-connectedness of Country, people and place; the renewal and re-inscription of cultural languages and practices; the importance of matriarchal culture and wisdom; the dynamic relations between activism and aesthetics; and a playfulness with language and signs in contemporary society.

Sovereignty provides an opportunity to engage with critical historical and contemporary issues in Australian society. The exhibition takes place against a backdrop of cultural, political and historical debates related to questions of colonialism and de-colonisation, constitutional recognition, sovereignty and treaty. Sovereignty is conceived as a platform for Indigenous community expression, and will be accompanied by an extensive program of talks, forums, screenings, performances, workshops, education programs and events.

Curators: Paola Balla and Max Delany
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne
Until March 26, 2017

Image: Installation view Sovereignty, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne. Photo: Andrew Curtis

Written by brookandrew

January 23, 2017 at 11:35 AM

‘Erewhon’ touring with NETS Victoria

leave a comment »

Images: Harvest, 2015 and The Memory Archive, 2015 in Erewhon.
Installation view Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne University, 2016.
A NETS Victoria touring exhibition. Photography by Christian Capurro.

Erewhon touring with NETS Victoria
Artists: Brook Andrew, Mikala Dwyer & Justene Williams, Tony Garifalakis, Claire Lambe, Clare Milledge. Curated by Vikki McInnes. 
Asialink and NETS Victoria.

Erewhon is the (almost) return of Neverwhere, an exhibition that travelled to Istanbul last year, commissioned by Asialink as part of the ‘Australia in Turkey’ cultural festival. Neverwhere presented the work of eight contemporary Australian artists to disturb distinctions between our real and imagined selves, and between the authentic and the proposed. Narratives were informed by external – and often mysterious – forces, both seen and unseen; the exhibition shifted registers between sincerity and satire although its propensity was to shadowy psychological turns. And it is farther in this direction – towards the darker, more charged imaginings – that the work in Erewhon leads.

More correctly, of course, Erewhon is the (not quite syntactically correct) return of ‘Nowhere’ and title of a novel by Samuel Butler, first published anonymously in 1872. Erewhon was set in a fictional eponymous country – though one that strongly resembled the south of New Zealand in which Butler lived as a young man. The story provided a satire (and philosophical exploration) of various aspects of Victorian society, most notably crime and punishment, religion and science. For example, according to Erewhonian law, offenders were treated as if they were ill, whereas ill people were looked upon as criminals. Another feature of Erewhon was the absence of machines due to the widely shared belief by the Erewhonians that they were potentially dangerous. These ideas – among others (the effects of colonisation, technological progress, the impossibility of utopias, discipline and punishment) – form both the thesis and the point of departure for the exhibition Erewhon.

Margaret Lawrence Gallery
1 September – 1 October 

Horsham Regional Art Gallery
19 November – 29 January

Warrnambool Art Gallery
11 February – 12 June

Benalla Art Gallery
22 September – 26 November

Latrobe Regional Gallery
16 December 2017 – 11 March 2018

Review by Nadiah Abdulrahim in Art Guide Australia.

Written by brookandrew

November 22, 2016 at 12:03 PM