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Art Gallery WA Media Release
Frederick Garling, View across the coastal plain

dissenting voices

Social issues, cultural concerns and politically driven events given a voice through art.

20 August 2016 - 31 January 2017 | FREE

Dissenting Voices is an exhibition concerned with how artists respond to political events and social issues and how they challenge cultural values.

Selected from historical, Indigenous and contemporary artworks in the State Art Collection, the works in the show explore themes of socio-political engagement, personal and national identity politics and resistance to acts of authoritarian control and aggression.

Many of the works, including installation, photography, sculpture, video and painting, are being shown for the first time together, along side a few new acquisitions, such as those by Raquel Ormella and Marco Fusinato.

The exhibition’s curator Jenepher Duncan, said, "These artists’ works will offer insights to viewers about the nature of political art, its varied purpose and potential meaning, from dissent and disturbance to contestation and condemnation."

Central to the exhibition are four large canvases by Tom Nicholson, Leon Golub and Peter Kennedy alongside several major paintings on loan from the Kerry Stokes Collection.

Goya’s 19th century depictions of the horrors of the Napoleonic war contrast with Tony Coleing’s representations of recent wars from the Falklands to Afghanistan. As a contemporary history painter, Golub has defined the role of painting as ‘bearing witness’, creating work to articulate the point of mediation between power and resistance.

On the other hand, Tom Nicholson’s banners are directly embedded in the action itself, having been marched through the streets of Berlin as a collective performance, while Mike Parr’s performative documentations offer his own body as the cathartic point of social commentary.

Quote attributable to AGWA Director Stefano Carboni
“This exhibition eloquently demonstrates the rich resources of the State Art Collection and offers a timely reflection on the disruptive political issues and events of contemporary society.”

In conversation | FREE
1-2pm, Sunday 18 September
John Mateer, poet, writer, curator, considers the work of Tom Nicholson in the context of the Dissenting Voices exhibition, with AGWA curator Jenepher Duncan.

About John Mateer
John Mateer curated In Confidence: Re-orientations in Recent Art for Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts and developed a project with the Cocos-Malays of Katanning for Spaced2: Future Recall, Western Australian Museum, Perth, 2015. He has given talks at the School of African and Oriental Languages (London), the Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology (Vienna) and at the Institute for the History of Art (Lisbon). His exhibition Invisible Genres includes contemporary art from the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and Bali to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first European landing in Western Australia and will take place at Curtin University Gallery, Perth from 19 September 2016.

Further information

For more information, interviews and imagery please contact Tanya Sticca on 9492 6692 or email

Annual Sponsors

Principal Partner

Wesfarmers logo

303 MullenLowe, Singapore Airlines, Audi, Smartbots, Alex Hotel, Juniper Estate, Gage Roads Brewing Co.

Leon Golub White Squad III 1982. Synthetic polymer paint on linen, 309 x 440 cm (sight). State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased through the Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 1997. Tom Nicholson Fragments from Melancholia (Documents after five actions, Berlin) 2001-2002, Berlin, Germany, Melancholia (Banner 4) 2002. Oil on linen, with sewn Hessian loops, 307 x 270 cm (irregular). State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Gift of John McBride, 2010.

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