Touring exhibition from Townsville’s Pinnacles Gallery A Permanent Mark: the impact of tattoo culture on contemporary art is on display at Gold Coast City Gallery from Saturday 12 December.
Given the Gold Coast’s city-wide fascination with tattoo culture it is fitting that we host the first major touring exhibition in Australia to explore and reconcile how two distinct industries – tattooing and contemporary art – are becoming increasingly interconnected.
A Permanent Mark: the impact of tattoo culture on contemporary art will celebrate tattooing’s raised status as a legitimate art form, and most importantly display works by local, national and international tattoo and contemporary artists that evidence the crossover of styles, technology and techniques, themes and iconography.
Exhibiting Australian artists eX de Medici and Richard Dunlop, along with Chinese-Australian artist Ah Xian utilise the human figure as an object to be ‘tattooed’ with symbology and concepts. Others, such as Mexican artist Dr Lakra, American artists Shawn Barber, Scott Campbell, and Don Ed Hardy, and Australian Leslie Rice maintain a dual practice, making a clear definition between their work as a professional tattooist and as a contemporary artist. In both cases though, the two practices remain invariably linked through representation and the use of tattoo culture iconography.
But perhaps the most interesting development is those artists using tattoo techniques and technology for the creation of contemporary art with few visual links to the mainstream tattoo industry. For example, Qin Ga, emerging from the underground Chinese art scene, uses tattooing as a powerful and concise communication tool in film and photography, deliberately breaking with conventional and expected aesthetics.
“We are excited to display such a dynamic, cutting-edge exhibit” says Gallery Manager, John Walsh.
“Modern tattoo culture has been revolutionised – especially here on the Gold Coast with many an inked individual – so we hope this innovative and provocative show will be cause of some interesting debate amongst viewers”.
Tattoos and body art were central to many ancient cultures and civilisations, but it is the more recent popularisation and acceptance of tattoos in Western culture that has resulted in the art form permeating into the contemporary artsphere.
Throughout much of the 21st century the art form was derided in mainstream Western society, both socially through the perceived ‘lower’ status of those that proudly displayed their ink, and artistically through the lack of consideration and respect paid to the talented tattooists who devoted countless hours to creating permanent living artworks.
A shift has begun to take place within society whereby the status of people with tattoos is not so quickly assumed. Artworks adorn the skin of many highly respected and influential professionals, from doctors to politicians. The content and design of the artworks themselves are also increasingly personal and considered. Further, the advances in technology has enabled tattooists the world over to create increasingly intricate and beautiful works.
“Tattoo — much like graffiti, which in the past decade has been transformed from cult to collectible — is increasingly being embraced by the art world. After all, we are not far from a time when even photography was not widely recognised as a legitimate art form” says Mr Walsh.
A Permanent Mark: the impact of tattoo culture on contemporary art is on display in Gallery 2 from 12 December – 7 February 2016.