Supermankind: Dale Cox, Australian Galleries, Melbourne, Until 22 March

Supermankind, 2019, acrylic on board, 120 x 220cm. Courtesy the artist and Australian Galleries Melbourne and Sydney

Australian Galleries presents ‘Supermankind’ an exhibition of paintings by Dale Cox that continue to bring the artist’s interest in environmental and anthropological themes to the fore. Cox reflects on his love for the natural world and draws our focus to his concerns for how we care for it or more to the point, how we haven’t.

At first, we might interpret the title of this show ‘Supermankind’ as an endearment to our species, but as we look at this series of works as a whole, we come to understand that Cox proposes a myriad of meaning. The motif of flames in some of the paintings immediately remind us of the havoc mother nature unleashed on Australia as bushfires burned out of control for months on end.

We know that more than half a billion animals have perished, too many human lives have been lost, over 18.6 million hectares of land have been turned to ash, waterways polluted, and many homes and livelihoods lost. And it doesn’t stop there. Climate change demands global attention. The urgent call to act on the devastating impact of our interactions with the natural world is here. It is crucial that we take meaningful action for a sustainable future, now.

Dale Cox, Business is Business, 2019, acrylic on gold enamel on board, 122 x 81cm. Courtesy the artist and Australian Galleries, Melbourne and Sydney

‘When it comes to the immediate climate emergency the world faces in the next decade, we are still pathetically ‘shuffling deckchairs on the Titanic’. Climate change is very real, our biggest threat and our most urgent responsibility. We do not, as a single species, have the right to take the rest of our diverse planet down with us, and yet the defining characteristic of the Anthropocene is that we are doing just that,’ says Cox.

‘This current exhibition seeks to convey the ‘pointy end’ of our predicament. Whilst humans have grappled with our inevitable death for thousands of years, we are perhaps amongst the first generations to contemplate not just our own finite existence, but the doomed fate of humanity itself. A kind of double death. Here we see our collective humanity stripped to our common element, the skeleton,’ Cox adds.

Skeletal protagonists portray all kinds of mortal implication as they roam on barren landscapes evoking notions of a dystopia for a destitute human race. Plumes of black smoke fill the air as sly grins manifest from the hand-shaking powers that be in ‘Business is Business’. A portrait if you like of Queen Victoria depicts the royal figurehead baring the weight of the Industrial Revolution on her petticoats. A caped crusader flies toward the future… in a bid to save all that is left.

Victoria, 2020, acrylic on gold enamel on board, 101 x 90cm. Courtesy the artist and Australian Galleries, Melbourne and Sydney

‘As stewards of the Earth, we hold it’s fate in our hands, are we up to the task?’ Cox asks. Because in the end when we are stripped of our identity we become one and the same and are all accountable.

Catch this intriguing exhibition from 3 to 22 March at Australian Galleries in Collingwood. A visit to the gallery on Saturday 14 March at 3pm will give audiences the chance to meet the artist and hear his talk.

Other galleries to explore in the Collingwood locale include Vernissage, Fox Galleries and in.cube8r gallery. Go to the gallery websites to see what’s coming up on their 2020 exhibition calendars.

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