Mounds and Caves - Press Release

Sydney artist Mark Gerada will challenge religion’s leading role in the “war on terror” in his latest exhibition Mounds & Caves at artist-run gallery Gaffa

Seventy-two paintings will explore representations of forgotten landscapes, alongside video installations that question how religion has been used to defend war by the world’s most powerful figures, especially over the past six years. Mark meditates on the hope for humanity’s spiritual reconnection with the natural world; to a pre-religious experience of life before religion’s divisions and hypocrisies set us against ourselves.

The troubles of the wider world were to impress themselves on the artist with shocking force on 7 July 2005. Mark was heading through London on his way to the Isle of Skye in Scotland that morning of the Tube terrorist bombings. He was going there to work on landscape studies and filming for this exhibition, yet after the bombings he arrived in Scotland reeling, doubting the utility of art, distracted with worry for his friends in London. But there the ancient landscape – so pristine and so distant from the insanity of religious violence – reaffirmed the fundamentals of life, and the necessity of art.

Since leaving Scotland, he has filmed footage in other parts of the world for the resultant video installations that further intensify the context of the paintings. The video soundtrack features the artist’s own composition, in which his voice hums a haunting and universal hymn in rhythm with footage of the world’s most stunning mystical sites. But mediative ambiance turn disturbing, when sound bites of George Bush interrupts by calling for war under the appeal of a spiritual God. These quotes are confrontationally mixed with like-minded phrases from Saddam Hussein.

“Remarks like these have created paranoia and distrust of other people. It is important to remember where we are coming from to keep the future in perspective.”

In Mounds & Caves, the viewer will be invited into a world of paintings that depict shapes of mountains and caves, domes and peoples’ heads. Mark adopts an organic painting approach that allows for a fluid energy of his paint strokes and an intuitive response to bold, simple shapes. When multiplied across 72 canvases, the mounds and caves stand authoritatively, leaving the viewer in awe of the fabricated landscape’s expressive and simple beauty. But while the works offer such splendour, they stand as a powerful warning. 

Mounds & Caves is a provocative and timely exhibition that forces us to ask, must freedom be predicated on the grim necessity of war?