Having a dig at the Royals

Having a dig at the Royals
Rhonda Dredge

When an artist is present at an exhibition, the vibe can change quite dramatically for the better.

Clinton Naina is not the kind to sit quietly in a corner while people peer at his work.

In His Colony, on at Gallery Smith in North Melbourne, he is out to change the world.

“I’m observing in the colony that what we like to do is travel overseas to the motherland,” Naina said.

“I notice how much influence the crowd still has today. It’s part of the dominant culture.”

After the blitzkrieg of the coronation, who can argue with that?

Naina is being provocative among his swathes of fabric – cotton and velvet - to which he has applied WhiteKing bleach: “I’m the Blak Queen. Who are you?”

A conceptual artist begins with an idea and, as a part Jamaican, British, and Australian Merium Mir man, he has a lot of heritage to complicate things.

He is connected to the Pitt family, and an ancestor of his married a slave, a lineage that has become part of his practice.

He uses bleach as a metaphor for the whiting out process of colonisation as it “removes difficult stains” and “provides a superior clean”

The patches on the fabric are where the bleach has been applied,the surfaces working subliminally as do the swaying fabrics.

They are hung for the pleasure of the camera and for moving gracefully in between

Cushions featuring the Union Jack and leafy curtains complete the Naina style which also includes works on paper.

“It’s my colony,” he said, and it’s quite a domestic affair, where he can be found slaving over colour and patterns. Works on velvet glow darkly while others run across the floor in a wild dance

GallerySmith is quite a dark ware-house space, and more could have been done with the lighting.

His Colony is an amusing, irreverent show that sparks off the wit of the artist. King Charles would probably approve.His Colony, Clinton Naina, GallerySmith, until June 10

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