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John Curtin Gallery – Brian Robinson: Tithuyil

Media release

Brian Robinson: Tithuyil* (moving with the rhythm of the stars) – which opens at John Curtin Gallery this week – is the first major survey of the artist’s work that brings together prints, assemblages and sculptural work, marking the last decade of Robinson’s acclaimed multi award-winning contemporary practice.

Brian Robinson, Bu Thonar, 2019, (installation detail), palight plastic, enamel spray paint, plastic vinyl, 100cm diameter (each sphere). Courtesy of the artist and Mossenson Galleries.
Brian Robinson, Bu Thonar, 2019, (installation detail), palight plastic, enamel spray paint, plastic vinyl, 100cm diameter (each sphere). Courtesy of the artist and Mossenson Galleries.

Robinson’s works present an intoxicating world-view. A constellation of wise-eyed sea creatures, muscular warriors, stars in the heavens, broad petal flowers, and hollow eyed skulls sweep through his works. Jostling amongst this realm of references to his island of Waiben, and the surrounding sea waters and islands of the Torres Strait, are the tokens and talismans of a parallel life within a global culture of super heroes, cheeky comic characters and ancient Classical mythologies.

Curated by John Curtin Gallery Director Chris Malcolm and Mossenson Galleries Director Diane Mossenson, the works have been selected to capture the scope of this fluid artistic imagination – one where the artworks and audiences are co-opted into the spirit realm of the islander imagination.

Chris Malcolm said Brian’s work fuses traditional Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait Islands) references with contemporary pop culture, from iconic ‘star wars’ images to modern interpretations of Greek Mythology.

“As an experienced and respected artist and curator in his own right, Brian has worked closely with us to bring together more than 60 works spanning ten years of a prolific practice,” Malcolm says. “We are very proud to present an exhibition of his work to the people of Perth for the first time.”

Brian Robinson is a multi-skilled, contemporary artist, whose practice includes painting, printmaking, sculpture and design. His style varies from graffiti art through to intricate relief carvings and construction sculpture echoing images of Torres Strait cultural motifs, objects and activity.

Common subjects running through Robinson’s art includes the tropical marine environment surrounding Waiben (Thursday Island) and the customs, traditions and lifestyles of the Torres Strait Islander peoples. He is particularly interested in identifying juxtapositions, or as he calls them, ‘crosscurrents’ of time and culture which reflect an exchange of ideas, beliefs and cultural practices. However, he also focuses on the similarities between such cultures. Some of the most notable examples of this is his works that incorporate how his Torres Strait Island homeland intersects with ancient and modern Pacific histories and Greek mythologies vs. pop culture heroes.

Robinson (b.1973) grew up in the Torres Strait Islands, located between the tip of Cape York Peninsula and Papua New Guinea. During this time he gained an appreciation of the culture of his people and was particularly influenced by the myths and legends of the Torres Strait, and the natural carving ability of the Islanders.

His work is held in private and public institutions in Australia and overseas including National Gallery of Australia; National Gallery of Victoria; National Museum of Australia;  the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art; Tjibaou Cultural Centre, Noumea, New Caledonia; the Australian National Maritime Museum; and the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, Virginia, USA.

He has featured in many exhibitions nationally and overseas, including in Berlin, Noumea, Washington DC and New York City.

Building 200A, Curtin University, Bentley, Australia

FIRST PUBLIC DAY: Sunday, 6 October 2019
LAST PUBLIC DAY: Sunday, 8 December 2019

Gallery opening hours:

Monday to Friday: 11am – 5pm
Sunday: 12 – 4pm

For further information, visit