Past Exhibitions at Kluge-Ruhe

Damien Shen: On the Fabric of the Ngarrindjeri Body


Damien Shen, Self-Portrait #2, 2014.
September 9 – December 18, 2016

On the Fabric of the Ngarrindjeri Body is an exhibition of drawings, prints and photographs by artist Damien Shen (Ngarrindjeri, Chinese). Shen began unearthing stories of his Aboriginal ancestry after the death of his grandmother. While researching historical records, he discovered that the skeletal remains of more than 500 Ngarrindjeri people had been stolen by an Australian coroner and sent to a scientist in Scotland for the purpose of comparative anatomy. Shen has drawn portraits of both men, along with that of Boorborrowie, a Ngarriindjeri man whose remains were later repatriated to Australia. Through these works, Shen exposes this buried history and questions the acclaim given to men of science.

Believing that the removal and scientific analysis of human remains divorces the body from its spirit, Shen uses his art practice to “reintroduce the spirit.” The exhibition takes its title from an etching in which Shen has superimposed customary Ngarrindjeri body paint designs onto a figure drawn in the style of 16th century European anatomical drawings. In drawing these designs, which are also shown in the photographs of Shen being painted for the first time, the artist celebrates the unity of the spirit and body in Ngarrindjeri culture.

Shen explains, “My family has had incredible struggles but there is also the other side of the spectrum in terms of triumphs and role models.” He has drawn portraits of his role models: his mother, his grandmother, artist Tony Albert, and public figure Gwoya Jungarai, also known as “One Pound Jimmy.” These are the personal, everyday heroes that inspire Shen as an Aboriginal man.

While Shen’s portraits uncover devastating histories, they also demonstrate the resilience and dignity of Aboriginal people.

Damien Shen grew up outside of Adelaide and holds a Bachelor’s of Visual Communications in illustration from the University of South Australia and a graduate certificate in Management from the Australian Institute of Business. His work has been in over thirty exhibitions around Australia and he has won multiple accolades: the South Australian NAIDOC Artist of the Year Award (2014), the Prospect Portraiture Prize (2015) and the 64th Blake Prize for Emerging Artists (2016).

Damien Shen’s exhibition and residency are presented in partnership with Australia Council for the Arts and MARS Gallery.

Yimardoowarra: Artist of the River


May 13 – August 21, 2016

Yimardoowarra: Artist of the River is a career survey of the Aboriginal Australian elder Loongkoonan. At 105 years of age, Loongkoonan is one of Australia’s oldest living contemporary artists. Her paintings are intricate depictions of her homeland in remote Western Australia. She is an important matriarch of the Nyikina people and one of the last speakers of their critically endangered language. Her paintings are important chronicles of the unique Aboriginal Australian understanding of place. This exhibition charts the extraordinarily dense late-life career of an Indigenous woman who has brought a century of memory, tradition, and spirituality to her art practice.

Loongkoonan was born around 1910 at Mount Anderson Station near the Fitzroy River in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. In 2004, at age 95, she began painting at Manambarra Aboriginal Artists, an arts workshop in Derby. Her shimmering depictions of bush foods and land around the Fitzroy River received immediate acclaim, being exhibited in every state and territory of Australia. In 2006 Loongkoonan was awarded first prize in the Redlands Art Award, and in 2007 she received the Indigenous Award at the Drawing Together Art Awards at the National Archives of Australia. Her works have inspired a new generation of Nyikina artists, and are held in the collections of Australian Parliament House, Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Berndt Museum of Anthropology at the University of Western Australia, Macquarie University and the Department of Indigenous Affairs in Canberra.

Click here to see the exhibition online.

Bianca Beetson: Being Human

Bianca Beetson, Selfie Series, 2014.

February 12 – May 1, 2016

Being Human was an exhibition by Aboriginal artist Bianca Beetson (Kabi Kabi) that featured twenty-nine photographic self-portaits that explore many facets of the artist’s contemporary urban Indigenous identity. Beetson states, “I am a woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter, an aunt, a sister, an artist, an activist, a teacher, a leader, a student, a cook, a cleaner and a nurse… an Aboriginal way of being is deeply imprinted on my DNA.”

Click here to download a copy of the brochure that accompanied the exhibition.

Presented in partnership with Australia Council for the Arts.

older »