Platform Hero Billboard: Bushrangers, Raafat Ishak

                                Photograph: Andrew Curtis

Raafat Ishak

7 Nov 2016-1 May 2017
Hero Building Billboard
118 Russell Street

The Hero Billboard re-imagines William Strutt’s Bushrangers painting from 1852 (collection of the University of Melbourne). The bushrangers painting is in itself a re-imagining of a hold-up on St Kilda Road that occurred during the Gold Rush. The idealised and classical triangular composition is re-imagined in the Hero Billboard as Strutt’s models comprising a group of friends and artists rather than robbers and victims. While Strutt would have been compelled to depict a contemporary narrative that evoked the foundations of a new settlement, he operated within the conventions of a studio artist, utilising close associates and friends as models and manipulating form and composition to invoke the esoteric and painterly qualities of his time. The Hero Billboard is likewise proposed as a photographic assembly of artists and friends, evoking the contemporary nature of social interaction and the materiality, which encapsulates it. 
The Bushrangers painting was chosen because it is quintessentially Melbourne, historic and evokes a period that has no particular resonance with contemporary urban Melbourne. Yet, its studio staging and aspirational painterly values do evoke a contemporary preoccupation with re-evaluating the city’s heritage and stressing the social progress that has been achieved in the past 200 years.

Raafat Ishak 
September 2016

Curated by Angela Brophy

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This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria and the City of Melbourne through the Arts Grants Program

Image: Courtesy of the artist and Sutton Gallery, Melbourne

RAAFAT ISHAK was born 1967, Cairo, Egypt; arrived in Australia 1982; lives and works in Melbourne. Ishak completed a Bachelor of Fine Art (Painting) at the Victorian College of Arts in 1990. Selected recent solo exhibitions include: Raafat Ishak: Work in Progress, Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne, 2010; and Proposition for a Banner March and a Black Cube Hot Air Balloon, with Tom Nicholson, Shepparton Art Museum, 2012. 

Ishak’s work has been included in major group exhibitions, including the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2009; NEW10, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2010; The Future of a Promise, Venice Biennale, 2011; Shifting Geometries, Embassy of Australia, Washington D. C., 2012; Alienation, Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, 2012; and Safar/Voyage, Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 2013.