Christopher Bassi’s ‘Monuments to the South West Waters of a Great Ocean’ in Primavera 2023: Young Australian Artists
10 Sep 2023
The much-anticipated Primavera 2023: Young Australian Artists is now open to view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Curated by Talia Smith, this year’s annual Primavera exhibition presents the works of early-careers artists from across Australia, featuring Tiyan Baker, Moorina Bonini, Nikki Lam, Sarah Poulgrain, and Truc Truong, and Yavuz artist Christopher Bassi. The current iteration of Primavera explores themes encompassing protest, resilience, identity, and history, with Bassi presenting his Monuments to the South West Waters of a Great Ocean series.
The artist, known for his contemplative self-portraits and recurring tropical imagery, presents a series of paintings in his preferred tonal palette of hazy ambers, sienna and umbers that represent a multitude of meanings, from the process and pure delight of creating to the history of painting within the western art canon, its relationship with colonialism and the subsequent attitudes that followed. In his creations, the Bassi encapsulates the very essence of this desire. Monuments to the South West Waters of a Great Ocean derives its name from the Arafura Sea, which lies to the west of the Torres Strait and Waiben/Thursday Island—Bassi’s mother’s native land. Within this title, ‘monuments’ alludes to the Arafura Sea’s storied past in fishing, pearl harvesting, and shell trade. As the subjects of his work, these everyday props become epic through the detail and care the artist takes in rendering them. Such paintings are a means of storytelling and a method for exploring the artist’s connection to the country.
Primavera 2023: Young Australian Artists is on view until 4 February 2024 at the MCA.
Image: Installation view of Monuments to the South West Waters of a Great Ocean in Primavera 2023: Young Australian Artists at MCA. Photographed by Zan Wimberley. Courtesy of the artists and MCA.