Important Australian + International Fine Art
6 May 2015


born 1967

charcoal, crayon and synthetic polymer paint on canvas

180.0 x 240.0 cm

signed and dated verso: Vernon A 2008

$15,000 - 20,000
Sold for $16,800 (inc. BP) in Auction 39 - 6 May 2015, Melbourne

Milani Gallery, Brisbane
Private collection, Melbourne


16th Biennale of Sydney, Cockatoo Island, Sydney, 18 June – 7 September, 2008

Catalogue text

'Vernon Ah Kee's conceptual text pieces, videos, photographs and drawings are a critique of Australian popular culture from the perspective of the Aboriginal experience of contemporary life. For the 16th Biennale of Sydney, 2008, Ah Kee exhibits 12 charcoal and pastel drawings on canvas that continue his series of portraits of his family. The focus of each subject is their 'gaze' - the way they look back at the viewer. Ah Kee's drawings respond to the history of romantic and exoticised portraiture of 'primitives', and effectively reposition the Aboriginal in Australia from an 'othered thing' anchored in museum and scientific records to a contemporary people inhabiting real and current spaces and time. The drawings inhabit the space as an Aboriginal and'human' presence. On gazing at the oversized portraits the viewer experiences a sense of discomfort, as the confrontational act of the stare, of facing an accuser, of exercising a right of reply, is strongly felt.'1

1. See http://biennale.sitesuite.cn/app/biennale/artist/24, viewed 9 April 2015


The following information is quoted from the artist's website: vernonahkee.blogspot.com

'Born in Far North Queensland, Vernon Ah Kee is a conceptual artist and a founding member of the Brisbane-based proppaNOW artists' collective. He has a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Hons) from the Queensland College of Art, Brisbane. Vernon's work critiques Australian popular culture, particularly the dichotomy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal societies and cultures. His art practice consists of video, 3D installation, photography, digital design, painting, printmaking, and drawing.

Vernon represented Australia at the 53rd Venice Biennale in the group exhibition Once Removed, 2009. His work was featured in exhibitions such as: Culture Warriors: National Indigenous Art Triennial, National Gallery of Australia, 2007; Revolutions-Forms That Turn: 16th Biennale of Sydney, 2008; Figuring Landscapes, Tate Modern, London, UK, 2008; Contemporary Australia: Optimism, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2008; Erased: Contemporary Australian Drawing, National Art School Gallery, Sydney, 2009; proppaNOW: Putsch, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide, 2010; proppaNOW: The Black See, KickArts Contemporary Arts, Cairns, 2011; UnDisclosed: the 2nd National Indigenous Art Triennial, National Gallery of Australia, 2012; Theatre of the World, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, 2012; Volume One: MCA Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2012; Everything Falls Apart, Part II, Artspace, Sydney, 2012; Insurgence, Museum of Australian Democracy, 2013; Australia, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2013; My Country: I still call Australia home, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2013; and Sakahan: 1st International Quinquennial of New Indigenous Art, National Gallery of Canada, 2013.

Solo exhibitions include: ill-like, Kluge-Ruhe Gallery, Charlottesville, USA, 2012; tall man, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, 2011, Vernon Ah Kee, City Gallery, Wellington, NZ, 2010; Waru, Kick Arts Gallery, Cairns, 2009; Blow Your House In, Mackenzie Gallery, Regina, Canada, 2009; Belief Suspension, ArtSpace, Sydney, 2008; and Cant Chant, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2007, where borninthisskin, 2009, the first major publication on his work was published.'

Vernon Ah Kee is represented by Milani Gallery, Brisbane