Signalling the imminent opening of the Home of the Arts (HOTA) Gallery in Australia, an ambitious public artwork by Sri-Lankan born artist Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran has been revealed at the gallery’s entrance. The unveiling of the humanoid forms comes less than two months ahead of HOTA’s inaugural exhibition, beginning May 8, and offers a tantalising preview of things to come at the $60.5 million Gold Coast facility, the centrepiece of the city’s cultural precinct masterplan.
“The unveiling of [the] incredible sculpture is both a tease and a promise of the significant, contemporary work visitors can expect when they take a first look into this amazing new gallery,” says Criena Gehrke, chief executive office at HOTA Gallery.
Gold Coast: HOTA Gallery unveils ‘new-age idol’
Commissioned by Melbourne Art Foundation in partnership with HOTA Gallery, Ramesh’s imposing sculpture, titled Double-sided avatar with blue figure, stands at six metres tall and combines a range of traditional and unexpected materials, including bronze and concrete alongside neon and fibreglass. The double-sided presence of the piece gestures to notions of past and present, as well as entry and exit.
Sculpted with welcoming, outstretched arms and expressive characteristics – somewhat of a hallmark for Ramesh – the largest of the figures is balancing an upturned, yet still grinning, pint-sized companion who is illuminated by scribbly pink neon.
Together, the “avatar” and their blue offsider are said to reflect the vibrancy of the ARM-designed HOTA building and challenge the assumed authority and function of large-scale figurative sculptures that have long accompanied the entrances of various buildings and civic spaces.
“I hope local and international visitors engage with the work by considering the meanings and significance of idolatry and sculptural monuments in public spaces,” says Ramesh. “The work gestures to a range of global sources that link to my cultural background and contemporary culture.”
Fresh from showing more than 60 ceramic sculptures in the Archie Plus exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney-based Ramesh is known for his challenging and innovative references to ideas of monumentality and idolatry. He experiments with form and scale in the context of figurative sculpture to explore politics of sex, gender and religion. His new work at HOTA – the artist’s largest sculpture to date and his first ambitious work in the public domain – is an exciting extension and consolidation of his ongoing practice.
“Ramesh’s rough-edged, vibrant, new-age idol is an important addition to HOTA’s growing contemporary collection,” says Maree Di Pasquale, chief executive officer and fair director at Melbourne Art Fair. “We encourage all to celebrate its unveiling at this game-changing Queensland institution.”
HOTA Gallery will include over 2000 square metres of AAA-rated, international standard exhibition space and a dedicated Children’s Gallery. It will be home to the $32 million City Collection, consisting of more than 4400 artworks, including one of the largest collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in regional Australia.
The gallery’s inaugural program includes world premiere international exhibitions, Australian exclusives and new commissions, launching with the exhibition Solid Gold: Artists from Paradise. Other major exhibitions include Lyrical Landscapes: The Art of William Robinson (July 31) and a world premiere exhibition exclusive to the Gold Coast and Australia, Contemporary Masters from New York: Art from the Mugrabi Collection (November 13), sourced entirely from the famed art collector’s private collection.
I hope local and international visitors engage with the work by considering the meanings and significance of idolatry and sculptural monuments in public spaces.