Artwork Description

Oil on canvas, stretched and ready to hang.

Signed on the front.

Addictum: by far the most overtly political of my works so far this portrait is of my friend and artist Damien Shen.

Damien is of both Ngarrandjeri and Chinese descent and his artistic work deals with reclaiming these identities in a contemporary setting. Adding to this Damien has also worked as a project officer with Drug and Alcohol Services SA giving him insight into how substance abuse has affected the community.

My concept for this painting was to reference old photographs of Australian Blackbirding practices as recent as the 20th century and to recontextualise them with a more subtle understanding. The chains today need not be of blackened iron to enslave and control a population. Addiction can be just as effective; through substances, through money, through perceived social acceptance. The chains may be as gold...but they are still there to manipulate.

However this work is one of strength and optimism for if one looks closely there are cracks in the links pointing to a more independent future. The power and posture of Damien's form emerges from the canvas unbowed and unbroken: conformity cannot be bought.

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Oil on canvas

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Stretched and ready to hang

This artwork is currently stretched and ready to hang.

Tom Hermann

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