There are many strange things happening in the US at the moment, but few can be more intriguingly circular than Mabuiag Islander Alick Tipoti’s mask inspired by the mask from Picasso’s own Collection “ which visited Brisbane last year. For that mask had itself come from the Torres Strait, which is Tipoti’s home.

Whereas Picasso’s was a traditional work made from turtle shell and originally worn to protect the identity of its wearer during particularly sacred ceremonies, Tipoti has moved on to work with Brisbane’s innovative Urban Art Projects to use cut and rusted steel. Just as the original inspired Picasso to some of his more ‘primitive’ tributes on canvas, Tipoti needed to create a non-sacred object “ an artwork “ that still spoke of the traditions of Mabuiag, when knowing what the Wawmer was doing “ that’s the bird perched on top of the mask “ would surely lead to a feast of mackerell, trevelly and tuna.

Alick Tipoti is moving almost as fast as his neighbouring Badu Islander, Dennis Nona. Nona, of course, won the Big Telstra prize in 2007 with his 8 metre bronze crocodile telling mythic stories of its interaction with humanity “ which is also appearing in their joint exhibition at the Robert Steele Gallery in New York’s Chelsea Art Precinct. They are part of the G’Day Australia celebrations that coincided with the Obama ascent to office. But their show runs until the end of February.

Seventy pieces “ mostly linocuts and etchings “ are on show and on sale. While Tipoti maintains the style that these remarkable young men pioneered “ ever bigger prints telling the timeless stories of the Torres Strait, mostly in black and white “ Nona has taken off in delicate colours like the print that won him yet another Telstra prize in 2008, for Works on Paper. Now he’s mostly describing of single incidents or single sacred objects. He’s also tried out laser-cut images on skate boards! And both offer gigantic works as though there was no limit to their imagaination or their technical abilities “ 6 metres long is the greatest.

It may be snowing in New York, but these guys “ whose exhibition ‘Gagai Ika Woeybadh Yatharewm Ika’ literally means the zig-zag movements of the Giant Trevelly, as imiated by their legendary warriors before going into battle “ are certainly capable of warming the town up!