Brian Robinson moves with rhythm of stars in Tithuyil exhibition

Brian Robinson in the Tithuyil exhibition space at John Curtin Gallery. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d496112
Brian Robinson in the Tithuyil exhibition space at John Curtin Gallery. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d496112

TORRES Strait Islander artist Brian Robinson says he was born with a pencil in his hand, artistic from the day dot.

When it came to choosing a career path in high school, there was no question it would be in the arts.

Now 46 years old, Cairns-based Robinson is celebrating the first major survey of his art at John Curtin Gallery, curated by the gallery’s director Chris Malcolm and Mossenson Galleries director Diane Mossenson.

Titled Brian Robinson: Tithuyil (moving with the rhythm of stars), the exhibition features 53 pieces from the past decade of his practice in printmaking, assemblages and sculptural work.

“It’s only a small snapshot of what has been produced in the last 10 years,” Robinson said.

“It’s amazing to see this body of work sitting cohesively across a number of gallery spaces.”

Brian Robinson in the Tithuyil exhibition space at John Curtin Gallery. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d496112

Tithuyil is a traditional western Torres Strait Island language word in the dialect of Kala Lagaw Ya, which translates to “clusters of stars” or “star constellations”.

“It’s an introduction to Torres Strait culture through the art on the walls,” Robinson said.

“The larger theme is focused on star patterns and star clusters and from that it filters down to activities that are set in motion when you see these particular star constellations over the islands in the Torres Strait. It’s broken up into about nine different areas within that larger theme.”

Robinson’s printmaking practice is dominated by black and white linocut prints or relief prints.

Brian Robinson in the Tithuyil exhibition space at John Curtin Gallery. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d496112

“With a lot of those works they, in a sense, are reinterpreted narratives that fit in both Torres Strait mythology, history, global culture and pop culture references,” he said.

“I’m always adding in comic book heroes and figurines into that particular work.

“My sculptural and public art work is extremely bright, colourful and really depends on the theme I’m focused on.”

For these, Robinson starts with a whole series of flat panels that are then constructed together to build a three dimensional form.

Describing his life as “fast-paced with never a dull moment”, Robinson will next head to Adelaide for Tarnanthi at the Art Gallery of South Australia, a festival of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, before a trip to the US in February.

Brian Robinson: Tithuyil (moving with the rhythm of stars) is showing at John Curtin Gallery until December 8.

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