World Art by Adam Rish a cross-cultural collaboration

Adam Rish, pictured at Manning Regional Art Gallery, with just a small portion of his exhibition, which is on show until June 29.
Adam Rish, pictured at Manning Regional Art Gallery, with just a small portion of his exhibition, which is on show until June 29.

ADAM Rish is a man who is good with his hands.

A cosmetic surgeon by profession, the work requires him to be meticulous in his approach, a skill that also helps him in his creative pursuits.

For the past 40 years, the accomplished artist has undertaken cross-cultural collaborations around the globe to produce ceramics, paintings, prints, sculpture and textiles which celebrate the world's indigenous cultures.

A retrospective of his work is on exhibition at the Manning Regional Art Gallery until June 29.

Titled Misanthropology - The World Art of Adam Rish, the showcase is quirky, beautiful, humorous and thought-provoking.

While rooted in the traditional art of indigenous cultures, it explores the effect other cultures have had on them.

His work has garnered much interest over the the years.

One of his fans is art critic for the Sydney Morning Herald, John McDonald.

"Whether he is sculpting a piece of wood with a hammer, or sculpting flesh with a laser beam, Rish is an exacting craftsman. The difference is that his surgical interventions are conducted within the strictest parameters, while his work in the studio allows scope for an anarchic imagination," writes John.

"...Rish's humour only serves to increase our awareness of all things wrong with the world...Alert to the possible wet liberal sentiment, paternalism and cultural condescension, he has not tried to appropriate the age-old themes and preoccupations of these artists. Rish's collaborations have been irreverent, idiosyncratic, iconclastic."

Adam's art studio is based in Sydney but said working in a studio can be "isolating...I wanted to go out into the world."

He chose to explore the indigenous worlds and over the years has built up relationships with his fellow artists.

For example, Adam, who is skilled at creating wood sculptures, has a collaborative partnership with I Wayan Sumantr from Bali, who assists him with his wood sculptures.

"I send him the designs and he sends them back in a rough form and then I finish them off."

Since 1975, Adam has collaborated with indigenous artists in Australia, Indonesia, Tonga, Turkey and the USA.

He employs traditional techniques and adapts them with modern technological and domestic images so, for example, cars, planes and televisions may take the place of traditional abstractions of flowers, birds and clouds.

The exhibition shows chronologically: early batik works such as Tropical Fever from 1975, prints made in the early 1980s, his take on baroque picture frames from the mid 1980s, kilims from Turkey and ikat from Sumba in the early 1990s.

His qualifications include a Master of Fine Arts from the University of NSW and he is a medical fellow of the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery and currently works, lectures and publishes on his specialty interest of cosmetic and laser medicine.

Awards to his name include Visual Arts Board Studio residencies in France and Italy in 1981 and 1984 respectively, a VAB Travel Grant in 1992 and an Asialink Residency in Indonesia in 1997.

He won the City of Hobart Art Prize in 1998.

His work is represented in public collections such as the Australian National Gallery, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of NSW and the Queensland Art Gallery.

His most recent exhibition was a retrospective of his etchings held at the Grafikens Hus museum in Stockholm, Sweden.


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