arch-peace editorials

30 June 2017

Shelter: The inconographic nature of temporary structures

In his most recent work, 'Refuge' Melbourne artist Kevin Chin explores the iconographic nature of temporary structures. His images are a reminder that we should not underestimate the role temporary structures play in our society. We asked Kevin what he thought temporary structures symbolise about our current world.

Rain Hail Shine, 2017, oil on Italian linen, 163 x 238 cm. Image: Kevin Chin.

'Refuge’ was a year in the making, and comprises five large-scale oil paintings. I had been reading widely about the global migrant crisis, and this mass media imagery was in my consciousness while developing the compositions. I restaged what became like symbols that I found kept repeating, and that resonated – like temporary shelter structures, children in queues, and domestic refuge.

By recreating these potent icons and rearranging their context, they’ve been translated away from specific world events, and into universal aspects of the human condition, we can all relate to – themes of journey, transition and sanctuary.

The temporary structures depicted in these paintings are used to speak of a broader sense of transience and instability. This reflects a global sense of insecurity, in the context of the US election of Trump, the resurgence of political parties like One Nation in Australia, and continuing debate around who belongs and who doesn’t. In this way, I believe temporary structures say more about our current society than permanent structures – about uncertainty, that things are constantly being re-evaluated and in a state of flux.

The theme of shelter in the paintings touches on the basic human need we all share, to feel secure and protected. My aim is to subtly reference these issues in a way that’s gentle, that makes you want to look closer, and then ask more about what’s going on. I hope to turn these issues into universal themes that we can all relate to, and thereby create a compassionate response.

Sheltered, 2017, oil on Italian linen, 97 x 142 cm. Image: Kevin Chin.

Pilgrimage, oil on Italian linen, 132 x 198cm. Image: Kevin Chin.

See ‘Refuge' by Kevin Chin from 1 July - 22 July 2017 at This Is No Fantasy + Dianne Tanzer Gallery, 108–110 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne.

In 2017 Kevin Chin was awarded a globally competitive residency at Teton Artlab USA. His international exhibiting profile also includes 2014 solo exhibitions at Art Stage Singapore, and Youkobo Art Space Tokyo, for which he was awarded an Ian Potter Cultural Trust Grant. He is the recipient of multiple grants from the Australia Council, City of Melbourne, and National Association for the Visual Arts. 

Visit Kevin's website to find out more about his work.


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