A major exhibition celebrating the work of one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, Dr Christian Thompson, will open at Griffith University Art Gallery in August.

Bidjara artist Dr Thompson made history as one of the first of two Aboriginal Australians accepted into the University of Oxford, where he completed his Doctorate of Philosophy in fine art in 2016.

Dr Thompson’s exhibition Ritual Intimacy has been co-curated by Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) Director Charlotte Day and Hetti Perkins, Dr Thompson’s long time mentor and curator.

Dr Thompson was accepted to the University of Oxford on an inaugural Charlie Perkins Scholarship, set up to honour  Perkins’ father, who was the first Aboriginal Australian to graduate from university.

“Christian has spent periods of his adult life, as a practicing artist, away from home, but there is a common thread in his work, and it’s this connection to home or Country,” said Perkins.

“In terms of the rituals or rites of the exhibition title, he is constantly reiterating that connection to home – through words, through performance, through his art, through ideas and writing.”

Ritual Intimacy includes highlights from Thompson’s diverse 15 year practice, and coincides with the publication of the first monograph of the artist’s career.

Exploring notions of cultural hybridity and history, Dr Thompson often refers to the relationships between these concepts and the environment.

Ritual Intimacy will  feature a major new commission created for this exhibition, Berecuse 2017. Incorporating language of the Bidjara people, the new commission is made up of musical ideas Dr Thompson has previously explored throughout his work.

“Bidjara is officially an endangered language but my work is motivated by the simple yet profound idea that if even one word of an endangered language is spoken it continues to be a living language,” said Dr Thompson.

Interweaving themes of identify, race, history and his lived experience, Dr Thompson works across photography, video, sculpture, performance and sound. Dr Thompson has been exhibited widely both, nationally and internationally.

“We are delighted to be partnering with MUMA to bring this important exhibition to Queensland. Christian Thompson is one of this country’s most intriguing artists, and to present such an in-depth survey of his work is a real honour,” said Angel Goddard, Director of Griffith University

Ritual Intimacy will be showing from Thursday, 20 July to Saturday, 9 September, Tuesday through Saturday, at Griffith University Art Gallery.

Read about QPAC’s tribute to Koiki ‘Eddie’ Mabo here.