The idea of duty is not generally something that you would associate with contemporary art or artists. Typically, some may think of artists as unfettered creative beings, coming and going from their studios at all hours, producing works on a whim that deal with whatever might have taken their fancy on that particular day. Yet underlying the thought process and conceptual practice of most contemporary artists is an inherent urge or desire to express something of value and importance – a duty or a calling to create work which is meaningful and grounded in artistic integrity.
This sense of duty manifests itself in a myriad of ways, from the intricate paper-based installations and paintings of Korean-Australian artist Hyun-Hee Lee which explore the intersection between religious, cultural and spiritual beliefs to the hauntingly beautiful black and white photographs of Ben Ali Ong, who is driven by a desire to capture the emotional truths that underlie the human experience, from Louise Zhang’s hyper-coloured, alluring and yet slightly grotesque paintings and sculptures which challenge the fine line between the seductive and the monstrous to Stevie Fieldsend’s wood and glass sculptural installations which investigate her Samoan cultural heritage and the importance of cultural identity in constructing an understanding of self.
Rhianna Walcott from Sydney gallery Artereal talks with four emerging Sydney artists about their take on duty.