With 80 artists spread across 300 glossy colour pages, Current is up-to-the minute, controversial, sexy, political, dangerous or reassuringly familiar, depending on what page you turn to. Current is the new book from the Art & Australia team, and took over two years to compile.
In the book, the artists are placed in alphabetical order to avoid comparisons or pigeonholing, yet some serendipitous threads emerge, not least the vulnerability of youth and the use of advertising tropes. It includes many of the bright Aboriginal stars of contemporary Australian art, including Vernon Ah Kee, Paddy Bedford, Destiny Deacon, Julie Dowling John Mawurndjul and George Tjungurrayi. Instead of a straightforward essay on the sometimes vexed question of contemporary pressures on Aboriginal art, Current presents a discussion between Brenda Croft, curator at the National Gallery of Australia, with other senior curators.
“We wanted to allow different voices within the Aboriginal community to show how diverse the art is, from traditional to contemporary,” Triguboff says.
The book, published next week, is sure to generate discussion, but any publication that goes to such pains to make the artist understood is surely a good thing.
Of dealing with such a large body of artists, Fitzgerald says: “(It felt as though you were taking the pulse, dealing with flesh and blood. And perhaps some people are conspicuous by their absence. But that’s not a bad thing, especially if it starts an ongoing debate.”