Dissimulation (noun /ˌdɪsˌsɪm.jəˈleɪ.ʃən/)
"an attempt at dissimulation"
"his audience consisted of a dissimulation of birds"
In the exhibition “Dissimulation” you are invited on a journey that transcends geographical borders, challenging the confines of nations and ideologies. Through a series of paintings, each depicting the national bird of every country in the world, explore profound themes of freedom, capitalism, and the intricate interplay between them.
At first glance, the vibrant images of these magnificent avian creatures captivate the viewer's imagination. The national bird, often revered and cherished, symbolizes a nation's identity and aspirations. However, as you delve deeper into the layers of this exhibition, you will discover that there is more to these artworks than meets the eye.
The process behind the creation of these paintings is as symbolic as the subjects themselves. Handmade paper, meticulously crafted from pulped bank notes, from every country in the world, forms the foundation of each artwork. This amalgamation of national currencies serves as a powerful metaphor for the dissimulation of capitalism, which permeates our world, disguising itself as the epitome of freedom and progress.
Through this juxtaposition, “Dissimulation” reveals the paradox of our modern existence. While the national bird represents the aspirations for freedom, the medium of pulped bank notes reflects the undercurrents of capitalism and the inherent power dynamics that shape our societies. The resulting dialogue between these elements exposes the illusion of freedom—often overshadowed by the manipulations of global economic systems.
In each painting, symbolism is carefully interweaved with aesthetic expression to convey the complex emotions associated with these themes.
This exhibition aims to provoke contemplation, challenging our preconceived notions of national identity, and the impacts of consumerism. It invites viewers to reflect on the delicate balance between the natural desire for autonomy and the systemic forces that mould our perceptions and choices.
Luke Cornish is an Australian artist creating unique, powerful images from handmade stencils. His rise within the contemporary art world has been meteoric, becoming the first artist to be nominated for the Archibald Prize and the Sulman prize with a portrait created entirely out of stencils. A former blue-collar worker from Canberra, Cornish’s apathy and boredom during his mid-twenties encouraged him to start experimenting with stanley knives and spraypaint cans. Nearly ten years later, Cornish has literally carved his name into the public’s mind. Using up to 85 layers of carefully hand-cut acetate, he sprays layer upon layer of aerosol paint until his images bear a striking photographic resemblance: this is a new form of hyper-realism that is unlike what has been seen before. Formally known as E.L.K, he uses the tools of a street artist to create decadent, detailed works that envelop the viewer. There is an honesty to Cornish’s work, slicing back the layers and reconstructing his muses with astonishing deftness. The emotions that permeate through the eyes of his portraits have great depth, the shadows created by the stencils highlighting their anguish. His subjects all seem to share the same hardship and determination that Cornish himself has experienced, lending to a sense of dire reality in the unreality of his images.
After a few small exhibitions across Australia, Cornish’s abilities began to attract public attention. Over the past five years he has been granted many awards, including being selected as a finalist in the Metro Art Prize of 2011, winning the Australian Stencil Art prize in 2010, the most popular stencil at Melbourne Stencil Festival in 2008, and creating a shortlisted Tropfest film on the making of his Archibald portrait. And finally, the Archibald itself. This represents a shift in the contemporary art world, as Cornish’s controversial nomination has proven that stencilling is a viable fine art form that is now competing with more traditional methods. He has continued to refine his craft, striving to push the boundaries of his medium and creating picture-perfect stencils. Cornish has nuzzled his way into the fine art world, showing that even if the pen is mightier than the sword, the scalpel might win out overall. In 2013, he achieved the highest ever auction result in Australia for street art for his Archibald piece of Father Bob at Bonhams.