Fernando do Campo

Constructivist Colonial Landscape (Tasmania’s jackass), 2019

acrylic on canvas

120 x 100 CM

From the artist

Dacelo novaeguineae (Laughing Kookaburra) was introduced into Tasmania between 1881-1906 by Acclimatisation Societies. Their nineteenth century name was Laughing Jackass. These same societies previously introduced deer, fox, trout and house sparrows. I would argue a shift occurred in Australia when mobilising nonhuman species; from a colonial gesture to a nationalistic one. This painting speculates on the colonial history of nationalism as emblemised through the transportation of kookaburras. The sentence ‘whos laughing jackass’ is used to produce a geometric typography, which then dissects, tessellates, and re-constructs itself as a temporary composition. Much like colonial landscape painting, this work borrows form, colour and a process of assemblage from a forced truth i.e. the re-constructing of Australia’s natural environment via colonialism and nationalsim. The true colours of the Australian federation may be the tertiary palette of the ‘laughing jackass’ instead of the union jack or the green and gold of the wattle. This painting presents an alternate but true narrative of Launceston’s geometry, a layered sonic landscape of native birds mixed with the colonial laughter of the jackass (kookaburra). Through the history of kookaburras in Tasmania, we can argue that ‘landscape’ was and always will be a construct. Australia remains imagined through a series of fictions.

Artist background

Borne Argentina 1987. Lives and works in Launceston, Tasmania. Exhibiting since 2009 including solo shows at Northern Centre for Contemporary Art, Dawin 2014; Academy Gallery Launceston 2013; tcb Art Inc, Melbourne 2012; & First Draft ARI, Sydney 2012. Residencies inlcude BMUKK, Vienna 2013; Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris 2012; Curator in Residence, Australian National University 2009. Recipient of Sir General John Monash Scholarship 2014.