Papua New Guinean artist Simon Gende is known for his paintings that provide often humorous and insightful commentary on society, religion, history and contemporary events. His artworks on display in APT9 were inspired by a week-long visit to Brisbane in 2017, during which time he was introduced to the work of Indigenous Australian artists Vincent Namatjira and his late grandfather Albert Namatjira (1902–59). On this trip, Gende also researched Papua New Guinea’s history using the State Library of Queensland’s archives, and ventured into Brisbane’s nightlife.
Drawing on newspaper accounts and previously accepted historical evidence – anthropological, art historical, photographic and oral – Gende reinterprets these sources in new combinations according to his particular world view. Characterised by directness, saturated with colour, suffused with irony, and using stylised or silhouetted figures, Gende’s paintings draw attention to the subjectivities involved in the framing of history.