When pop culture bites back: Franck Gohier exhibition opens at MAGNT

Andrea Simpson

Gohier’s artwork has been described as ‘feral surrealism’ and his art practice as ‘an act of cultural stratification.’ Explore his prolific career in the exhibition Franck Gohier: A thousand miles from anywhere.
When pop culture bites back: Franck Gohier exhibition opens at MAGNT

Franck Gohier, Sitting ducks 2009, synthetic polymer paint and found objects on board. Collection of Karina Harris and Neil Hobbs. Photograph by Steve Keough. © Franck Gohier.

The third in a series of exhibitions at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) celebrating Northern Territory artists, Franck Gohier: a thousand miles from everywhere is now showing until 1 July 2018. The exhibition has been curated for MAGNT by Glenn Barkley of The Curator’s Department.

Darwin is central to Gohier’s practice, which reflects the artist’s profound wit and wry intelligence, as well as Surrealist and pop culture overtones.

‘Gohier’s punchy, irreverent humour combines an acute sense of the absurd with shrewd commentary to expose the vanities, foibles, delusions and struggles that characterise contemporary society,’ said Dr Wendy Garden, Curator of Australian Art, MAGNT.

During Gohier’s three decade career his works have been acquired by MAGNT; the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Artbank; regional galleries, and private collections the world over.  

Marcus Schutenko, Director of MAGNT, said: ‘Franck Gohier has developed a national reputation for his witty Pop aesthetic and astute social commentary.’

Image: Franck Gohier, Lost, 2012, screenprint. MAGNT Collection © Franck Gohier.

An alternative point of view

Made famous by his work produced in his iconic Red Hand Print studio, Gohier’s arts practice is multi-faceted, including prominent works in sculpture, printmaking and painting as well as the important work he has done with  the local community, including Indigenous artists. 

Born in Saint-Nazaire, France, Gohier’s family migrated to Australia when he was a child and soon settled in Darwin. Gohier described the Northern Territory as ‘a place where you could make a fresh start,’ but also a ‘strange place ... like a Conan movie: post-apocalyptic, Mad Max, very much a frontier town full of ex-Vietnam vets, hippies, bikies, truckies, people running away from something – it was a really wild place to live.’

This impression of the Northern Territory’s capital city is confirmed by Glenn Barkley, Exhibition Curator and close friend of the artist. 'Darwin is a dynamic frontier city whose geography and climate seep into the sweaty pores of its artists,’ Barkley said.

He went on to describe Gohier’s artmaking as a perfect marriage between design, meaning and message.

‘Gohier’s making-do is an act of cultural stratification that renders the new, old – or at least the old-looking. Corners are smoothed out, surfaces are scratched, or painted deliberately faint, and actual older found objects are repaired or attached to newer components disguised to fit together,’ Barkley said.

Franck Gohier: a thousand miles from everywhere is a survey exhibition providing access to Gohier’s prolific career and an artistic eye that is always looking out, reflecting back in, and responding. It offers audiences the opportunity to view Gohier’s most important works, touching on historical and political pivot points, such as Cyclone Tracy and the bombing of Darwin in World War II.

Image: Franck Gohier, Fear art, 2016, screenprint. MAGNT Collection © Franck Gohier.

His biting political commentary is evidenced in works such as the 2016 screenprint of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Fear art. This is an exhibition that will trigger profound conversations.

To learn more about Gohier’s prolific career visit: Franck Gohier: a thousand miles from everywhere at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.

About the author

Andrea Simpson is ArtsHub's Feature Writer and Reviews Editor. Andrea is a Filipino-Australian writer with a love for diverse Australian stories. She is curious about all forms of art, though she has an especially keen interest in the publishing sector.

Andrea has had short stories published in various anthologies, and is currently working on her first novel.  

You can follow Andrea on Instagram @andi_jayyy