Entitled On the Way to The Airport – New Keepsakes, the latest solo exhibition by local contemporary artist, Anurendra Jegadeva, also known as Anu, showcases a series of 35 portraits. Painted on the actual pages taken from The Picturesque Atlas of Australasia, a vintage London based publication from the 1880s.
Taking into account the meanings of the words and the illustrations as well as charts that accompany them – the pages serve as the backdrop for the artist’s own painted diary of contemporary Australian life.
This ironic juxtaposition of contemporary notions of the world around us with the descriptions and depictions of a Victorian Australia is especially important to the artist’s intentions.
The artist explores notions of change in the face of the yearning for the way things used to be. He does it with his usual play of irreverence, humor, cynicism, hope, love, despair and of course, an unhealthy obsession with current affairs and Trump.
Each page of the diary is exhibited in the locked cabinets reminiscent of the notice boards in government schools anywhere in the world. They seem to allude to the fact that while we may be older and experienced, we are nevertheless still the same. And we still need to be schooled.
After spending more than 10 years back in Malaysia, he decided to return to live in Australia; a country that is now different, yet very much the same. The artist has come from a Malaysia, affected by the changes brought by the political ramifications of 1998 – and yet faced with the same issues that plagued us then – perhaps – even more profoundly today.
A vast majority find themselves longing for what was; wanting that elusive, idyllic pre-internet past, where social and political constructs and knowledge were safely contained within their time-honored compartments.
This exhibition will be accompanied by the launch of a new 300-page tome, documenting 30 years of the artist’s illustrious career. Notable mentions of the artist’s achievements include the acquisition of his installation entitled MA-NA-VA-REH – Love, Loss and Pre-Nuptials in the Age of the Great Debate by the Singapore Art Museum for their permanent collection, which was thereafter, exhibited in the iconic After Utopia: Revisiting the Ideal in Asian Contemporary Art exhibition to commemorate SG50 in 2015. His Yesterday in a Padded Room….installation featured at Art Basel Hong Kong 2015 followed by a later feature in the Asian Art Biennial 2015 at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts from September to December 2015.