Ryan Presley: Fresh Hell

Upcoming Exhibition
September 3 2022 - October 29 2022
A painting of a woman driving a red convertible car through the sky above a desert dune landscape. The number plate reads 'BLK PWR'.
A painting of a woman driving a red convertible car through the sky above a desert dune landscape. The number plate reads 'BLK PWR'.

Ryan Presley 

When

Adelaide Contemporary Experimental

September 3 2022 to October 29 2022

Access

Fresh Hell brings together a suite of paintings that Brisbane-based artist Ryan Presley has been steadily developing over the past eight years, for the first time in a major solo exhibition.

Presley’s practice wrestles with themes of power and dominion—in particular, how religion and economic control served colonialism and empire building over time, and the representation of its customs and edifices in our everyday lives.

Fresh Hell is informed by Presley’s own Catholic upbringing and experience, having been baptised in a desert township; Alice Springs. Large-scale oil paintings are detailed and layered with meaning, often referencing the canon of Western religious works that span from the Icon schools, Middle Ages, Renaissance periods through to the current day. These historical referents are, however, re-interpreted by casting young Aboriginal people as the key protagonists in recent pasts and foreseeable futures.

‘Fresh hell’ is a sardonic term used to describe when things go from bad to worse very quickly and inexplicably. Over the last ten years Presley has built a reputation for re-appraising difficult histories and, in the context of this new body of work, the exhibition title tells us something of the admonition the artist wishes to make against the ongoing treatment of Aboriginal people in Australia.

Following the premiere of Fresh Hell at ACE, the exhibition will be presented at Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne, in early 2023.

Feature Image: Ryan Presley, 'The Dunes (How good is Australia)' (2021), oil, synthetic gold and 23k gold leaf on poly-cotton, 364 x 152 cm (Diptych). Courtesy the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.

Lead Artists

Ryan Presley
  • Vibrant painting featuring woman with baby looking down on distressed policeman and businessmen.
  • Vibrant painting featuring men shooting a helicopter, while another man paints a boomerang.
  • Vibrant painting featuring woman riding a horse over a four-headed dragon.
Vibrant painting featuring woman with baby looking down on distressed policeman and businessmen.

Support

Fresh Hell is a co-commission by Adelaide Contemporary Experimental and Gertrude, Melbourne.

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, and the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland. 

ACE tampinthi, ngadlu Kaurna yartangka panpapanpalyarninthi (inparrinthi). Kaurna miyurna yaitya mathanya Wama Tarntanyaku. Parnaku yailtya, parnaku tapa purruna, parnaku yarta ngadlu tampnthi. Yalaka Kaurna miyurna itu yailtya, tapa purruna, yarta kuma puru martinthi, puru warri-apinthi, puru tangka martulayinthi.

ACE respectfully acknowledges the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today.