An exhibition by Johnathon World Peace Bush
17 June – 10 September 2023
Linden New Art is pleased to present Johnathon World Peace Bush’s exhibition Everything that came before makes the present, consisting of 15 works, including several to have their debut, showing at the gallery from 17 June – 10 September 2023.
Johnathon World Peace Bush expresses his views on equality, culture, art, and language through painting, writing, and song. Bush’s ochre paintings present a unique combination of Tiwi culture and his personal views on global politics, family, and cultural heritage. He adopts painting techniques that reflect Jilamara (Tiwi body paint design), combining them with representations of political figureheads, Catholic imagery that relates to the colonial experience of the Tiwi, stories of colonial crimes against Indigenous people, and adaptations of old anthropological images of First Australians.
Everything that came before makes the present will be Bush’s first institutional exhibition. It is framed around three key ideas: Religion, Colonial Crimes, and Indigenous culture.
Bush declares, “For both my Tiwi people and my global family, I want culture to be strong. If you don’t have culture, you fall and have to fight to reconnect. Without culture we are all lost. I hold the Western and Aboriginal law in my hands for all humankind to be equal. I have to balance both laws.”
In many of his works, Bush recreates iconic Catholic narratives often from representations by historical western artists and combines them with Tiwi cultural designs using local earth pigments collected from Country. The power of Bush’s work is that it frames these narratives from a Tiwi perspective, celebrating the resilient and ancient living culture to which he belongs.
Linden’s Director and CEO, Vincent Alessi says, ‘Linden is excited to present the first institutional exhibition of the work of Johnathon World Peace Bush, an artist with an exciting and distinctive singular vision. His work engages with global politics, religion, and cultural heritage, in a unique way addressing the impacts of colonialism and the missionaries on Tiwi culture. However, it is a practice that is equally defined by ideas of community, respect, and acknowledgement of diverse cultural influences on his life and that of his Tiwi community. We are excited to share this work and the ideas present within with a board audience, particularly during the important months ahead as Australia seeks to recognise First Nations people as the original custodians of this land in the constitution.’
Bush states, ‘I hope my artwork gives a glimpse into my strong beliefs of a want for world peace and equality for all humankind: ‘This time is your time. It is time for you to talk big. You need to fight to keep culture alive.’ I remember my older male ancestors saying this to me. They have all passed away now, but they have left work for me to do. It is important to link the past to the present for healthy future regeneration. Like a chain reaction. To fix up a family tree you have to go down to the roots and into the past. Love is the fruit of good family. I work for a future that is bright and where everything will be alright.”‘
Johnathon World Peace Bush is attracting a strong institutional and collector following for his unique painting style, his political engagement, and bold words. Recent seminal exhibitions include ‘UNLEARNING AUSTRALIA’, a major survey of contemporary Australian Art at Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA) in South Korea 2022 and ‘Tiwi Exhibition’, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne 2021.
Bush lived in Borroloola working as a stockman at an outstation herding horse and cattle for many years. His father is from Borroloola and his mother is from Milikapiti. Bush moved back to Milikapiti to be with his mother’s family to spend time with his daughter and this Is where he started working at Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association in 2015.
Everything that came before makes the present is showing at Linden New Art from 17 June 2023.