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Universal emotions across cultures

Dec 17, 2019

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Pretty Beach [detail] at the Museum of Contemporary Art for The National, 2019.

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah is a visual artist who lives and works in rural WA. His work is informed by his experiences as a Muslim Australian of mixed ethnicity and the polarisation of Muslim identity post 9/11.

By their very essence the arts help us understand and live with our fellow citizens, bridging social divisions by generating empathy, understanding and human connection.

 Two in three Australians believe the arts help us understand other people and cultures and allow us to connect to others.

In his most ambitious work to date, Abdullah’s large scale sculptural installation Pretty Beach explored loss and the aftermath of his grandfather’s suicide. It recalled childhood memories of stingrays gliding beneath his jetty, hidden from view by falling rain yet swimming on undisturbed, linking the rationalisation of loss with memory, nature and place. The work developed new ways of accessing universal emotional responses to ideas of grief and mourning, allowing audiences to engage with a personal sense of vulnerability and respect.

An Australia Council project grant supported the development and presentation of the work at the Museum of Contemporary Art for The National 2019: New Australian Art.