Have A Go is a powerful exhibition combining two separate bodies of work, with each informing the other, from renowned street artist and Archibald Prize finalist, Luke Cornish (aka ELK), who originally hails from Canberra.
Opening at aMBUSH Gallery Kambri on 29 August, it will merge art from his celebrated solo exhibition The Sea with new works created off the back of his (Not) Welcome To Bondi mural, which has attracted wide levels of media attention and public support in recent weeks.
Many of Cornish's pieces reflect his first-hand experiences in war-torn Syria, a region he has visited three times in the past three years. At once captivating and heartbreaking, his images of this modern-day conflict and the widespread toll it imparts is a sensitive portrayal of the human condition that gives gallery audiences access to scenes they may otherwise be oblivious to.
Showcasing over 25 breathtaking photo-realistic stencil works of varying sizes, expertly created from photographs Cornish has taken, the scenes are snapshots of the 'new normal' these innocent civilians now face in everyday life, alongside art that is a commentary on the state of democracy in Australia.
Black and white views of urban areas reduced to rubble in Aleppo are brought into stark relief by a domineering streak of colour, highlighting a military tank or the ironically cheerful bright blue of the sky. Still, a cautious optimism and enduring sense of love and community are evident in the people whose portraits Luke reproduces, even as they pose amongst the debris of a ruined cityscape.
Focussing back on our own shores, the depiction of heavily armed Border Patrol officers is an overt comment on Australia's treatment of asylum seekers.
Through his practice of stencil art – acknowledged as one of the earliest forms of social and political activism – Cornish is observing and interpreting global politics and policies.
As he explains, common themes running across the artworks are capitalism and democracy in the current day. "My work examines the rise of authoritarianism and how liberties can be taken away, little by little."
Luke's technique, honed over many years, is meticulous and involved. Depending on the piece, he can construct up to 1,000 stencils and use up to 200+ different colours of layered aerosol paint on the canvas, working until it takes on a photographic realism.
Curated and presented by aMBUSH Gallery, the opening night for Have A Go is an event not to be missed for art aficionados and those looking to engage in a discussion about the power of art to reveal, provoke and incite change.
Join us on Thursday, 29 August from 6-9pm at aMBUSH Gallery (Cultural Centre Kambri, ANU Building 153, L2, Acton ACT), where the dynamic conversation centring on Cornish's art will be accompanied by live music from local DJ Genie and drinks from Capital Brewing.
On Saturday, 31 August, a special panel talk will be held in the Gallery from 1:00-2:00pm, followed by a Q&A with the artist. This event is free of charge to the public.
The exhibition will be open daily from 10am-6pm weekdays and 12pm-5pm on weekends until Sunday, 29 September. Admission is free and all artworks are for sale.
Visit www.ambushgallery.com for more information, and look for aMBUSH Gallery on Facebook and Instagram for exhibition updates.