Held in parallel with Art Basel Miami Beach, we are delighted to present new paintings by two of the most compelling visual artists of the Asia-Pacific region for ‘OVR: Miami Beach’; Australian-artist Abdul Abdullah (b. 1986) and Singaporean-artist Alvin Ong (b. 1988).
As a seventh-generation Muslim Australian of mixed ethnicity who grew up in suburban Perth (an ‘outsider amongst outsiders’), Abdullah’s multi-disciplinary practice is motivated by a longstanding concern on the complex feelings of displacement and alienation associated with histories of diaspora and migration. Providing a voice to these rarely told topics, he creates carefully crafted political commentaries that speak of the ‘Other’ and the experiences of marginalised communities. While the fraught dynamic of Muslim experiences have provided the initial framework, Abdullah has consciously expanded his practice to include a broader sense of marginalisation, and the disjunctures between perception/projection of identity and the reality of lived experience. Identifying as a Muslim and having both Malay/Indonesian and convict/settler Australian heritage, Abdullah occupies a precarious space in the political discourse that puts him at odds with popular definitions. He sees himself as an artist working in the peripheries of a peripheral city, in a peripheral country, orbiting a world on the brink. Abdullah’s works intersect between popular culture, contemporary conflicts and personal experience, renegotiating histories to create space for alternative possibilities and new conversations. Grounding his outlook with an expansive cultural geography that belies reductive boundaries of nationality, Abdullah represents a new face of emerging artists from the Asia-Pacific region.
Ong is known for his intimate works that capture quotidian moments of our contemporary world in surreal bodily compositions, playfully combining diverse visual vocabularies alongside his own lived experience of hybridity and distance across a variety of spaces, physical and virtual. Through vignettes of everyday life, the vocabulary of the mundane is transformed into a site of spectacle, a cabinet of curiosities in which audiences are implicated as flaneur and voyeur. Characterised by fluid compositions and surrealist forms, these dreamy, introspective paintings draw from the artist’s lived experience, as well as his own fertile imagination. Oscillating between restlessness and desire, the figure is presented as a site of metamorphosis: distorting and colliding with one another, as though wrought by internal conflict. Flowing forms fuse the external with the internal, accentuating the relationship between the mind and body, capturing the ephemerality of a collective psyche.
ABOUT THE ARITSTS
Abdullah has exhibited internationally extensively across Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea and Germany. Recent curated exhibitions include: Un/learning Australia, Seoul Museum of Art, South Korea (2022); Monster Theatres, Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia (2020); Stories We Tell To Scare Ourselves With, Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, Taiwan (2019); and DIASPORA: Exit, Exile, Exodus of Southeast Asia, MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand (2018). His work is collected by numerous institutions including: the National Gallery of Australia; Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (Australia); Museum of Contemporary Art (Australia); Murdoch University (Australia); and MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum (Thailand). In 2019, he was awarded the inaugural Australian Muslim Artist Art Prize. He is also a five-time Archibald Prize finalist and five-time Sulman Prize finalist, the most prestigious art prizes in Australia, a rarity for an artist of his years.
Ong is a graduate of the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford, UK (2016) and the Royal College of Art, London, UK (2018). He was awarded a residency in 2017 with the Royal Drawing School, as well as the 2018 Chadwell Award. He is the newest artist-in-residence at the prestigious Eton College, the first Asian artist to have been granted this residency. His works have been exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum (2007, 2012, 2013), Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore (2010), Peranakan Museum, Singapore (2015), Northampton Contemporary, UK (2017), National Portrait Gallery, UK (2018), and Royal Academy of Arts, UK (2019). His works are collected by the ILHAM Gallery (Malaysia); X Museum (China); the Ingram Collection (UK); and the Victoria & Albert Museum (Print Collection) (UK).