Arone Meeks

Arone Meeks was born in Sydney in 1957, but grew up in Cairns before returning to Sydney to attend art school. Meeks has been proactive as a founding artist with the Boomalli Aboriginal artists collective in Sydney and initiating the annual NAIDOC exhibition at the Tanks Art Centre in Cairns. These activities create dialogue between communities and showcase what indigenous artists have to give. He has been awarded significant fellowships including the first indigenous Australian residency at Cite des Arts in Paris.

Arone grew up with his initiated grandfather and spent time with one of the North’s most celebrated indigenous artists Thancoupie, who, he describes as ‘Athoy’- spiritual mother. He has lived with the Mornington Island community, finding strength in belonging to its social foundation. Arone produces paintings, sculpture and prints that express a passion for country, spirituality, sexuality and politics. His path is one that redefines his connections through art mediums. The spiritual is actualized through art and his response is one of ‘working it through’ an intuitive process. Arone is able to express a unique spiritual response to country that has a harmony in connecting disparate worlds. His subjects are sourced in nature and represent a cultural responsibility with an expression of contemporary art. Arone’s indigenous links are with the Kokomidiji of Cape York, around Laura, the site of renowned rock art galleries filled with graceful drawings of quinkans. Laura is known as a place of Aboriginal magic and sorcery; it is also the location palpable effect on Arone. He feels a physical reaction to sacred country that helps forge relationships with kinship, a sense of self and ‘renewing the dreaming’. Arone’s art is not governed by the same barriers and protocols that govern traditional Aboriginal art, but is placed in the context of the contemporary urban.

Arone’s practice is based intuitively on the shifting definition of cultural identity. It is one that has a connection to dreams and experiences that have touched his soul. Sexuality has an influence and is conceptualized as part of the human matrix. As an urban aboriginal that inhabits a world in proximity to traditional tribal lands and communities, he describes his practice by saying, “I am hunting for lost pieces of myself.” It is a process where imagination comes from within and possibly an inexhaustible source for his art. For Arone the process of painting is great therapy for defining self and existence. He finds humanity in the gesture of the mark and this is evident in much of his work. His art objects are like his children, sent off into the world, and like children the finished objects take time to reveal their full consequences to him.

Russell Milledge February 2006

History
Traditionally from Laura, Arone is a Cairns based artist of both national and international repute. His new series of works explore spirituality as a merging of both the traditional and contemporary through paint and print. For Arone this new series of works forges the connection between intellect, spirit, man and environment. The practice of physically producing this body of work strengthens the link with country on both a personal and broader level. Metaphorical links to the colour blue and the lung symbols combine in their significance relating to inner spiritual essence and the power of spiritual transformation. Physically the ‘blue’ lung represents his geographical source of inspiration and natural breath.

In form Arone has been exploring new techniques in paint and medium relating to traditional methods of mark making. An accomplished printmaker he has also produced large scale lino and mono prints in both black and white and colour.

Background
Born 1957. Tribal Area -Laura, Far North Queensland. Tribe: Kuku Midigi. Language: Kuku Yalanji

Qualifications
1884: Bachelor of Visual Arts, City Arts Institute, Sydney

Solo Exhibitions
2011 The Gallery Eumundi, “Spirit Ark Navigation by the Stars”; “Forces of Nature” Canopy Art Space, Cairns
2010 Art Mob Tasmania; Cross Currents, Australian and Oceanic Arts, Port Douglas; Moree Plains Regional Gallery
2009 Cell Arts Space, Cairns; Canopy Art Space, Cairns
2007 Blue Lung Breath, Australian and Oceanic Arts, Port Douglas; White Coral Spawning, RM Gallery, Brisbane
2006 Now Time Portal to a Dream, Kick Arts, Cairns
2005 New Directions, Framed Gallery, Darwin
2004 Artist Collection, Tanks Art Centre, Cairns
2003 Saltwater Story, Cairns Regional Gallery
1999 Cycad Dreaming, Tanks Art Centre, Cairns; Flinders University, Feast Festival, Adelaide
1997 Common Ground, Drill Hall, Australian National University
1995 Arone Le Cake, Cairns; Black Crane, Lizard of OZ, Taos, New Mexico, USA; Moore Regional Gallery, Armidale
1992 La Rece, Australian Embassy, Paris
1989 Paris Dreaming, Australian Embassy, Paris
1988 – 2001 Consequent Solo Shows Cooee Aboriginal Art Gallery, Sydney
1988 5th Festival of Pacific Arts, Capricornia Gallery, Cairns
1978 Ensueno, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Arone 2 Australian Embassy, Paris

Group Exhibitions
2010 Boomalli Group Show, Sydney; Vivo, Palm Cove, Black Friar, Sydney,
2009 This is Cassowary Country, Cairns Regional Gallery; Vivo Group Show, Palm Cove; Hand in Hand, Boomalli, Sydney
2008 On the Edge, Tanks Art Centre, Cairns (Travelling Exhibition)
2007 Hidden Treasures, Cairns Regional Gallery; Edge, KickArts Gallery
2006 Black Pink and Delicious, Mardi Gras, Boomalli, Sydney
2005 Homefront, KickArts; Post Card Show, Cairns Regional Gallery; Men Under, Gallery 53; Works on Paper, Bowen Galleries, Wellington, New Zealand
2004 FNQ Souvenir, KickArts touring exhibition toured to Gab Titui, Thursday Island; Gallery Hinchinbrook, Ingham; New Land Gallery, Port Adelaide; Millicent Gallery, South Australia; Hervey Bay Regional Gallery;
Recent Work, Bath Street Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand; Post Card Show, Cairns Regional Gallery; Glare, KickArts Insider Exhibition, Cairns; NADIOC Regional Exhibition, Tanks, Cairns; Touch of Mandela, Collaborative Work with Nelson Mandela; World and Cultural Heritage, International Group Exhibition with Global Culture Centre of Japan; Hitting on and Kicking Off, KickArts inaugural exhibition for KickArts Contemporary Arts in the new Centre of Contemporary Arts, Cairns
2003 Story Place, Qld Art Gallery
2002 Local Colour, Local Lives, Cairns Regional Gallery; Shades of Pink, Manly Art Gallery & Museum; Accommodating Differences, Tanks Art Centre and Centre of Contemporary Arts New Zealand
2000 Journeying the Same Land, Cairns Regional Gallery
1997 Collaborations, Cooee Gallery, Sydney; Local Colours, Cairns Regional Gallery
1996 Tribal Metaphysics – A Meeting Place, Cooee Gallery, Sydney
1994 Urban Focus, Urban & Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art, National Gallery, Canberra
1993 Mardi Gras, Barry Stern Gallery, Sydney; Boomalli Group Exhibition, Sydney; New Tricks Old Land, Northern Territory Museum, Darwin; Rediscovery, Australian Artists in Europe
1982 – 1992 European Tour, Australia Council
1992 Aboriginal Art, Galleri Gaileton, Lyons, Toulouse and Avernier, France; New Tracks Old Land, USA tour of contemporary prints from MCA and the Aboriginal Art Management Association; Crossroads, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto & Tokyo; Australian Aboriginal Art, Salon de Sud Est, Lyons, France
1991 Cross-Currents, Traditional & Urban Aboriginal Sculpture, Cooee Gallery, Sydney; Kulumburu, Cooee Gallery, Sydney; Muka Print Workshop Exhibition, Auckland
1990 Balance View/Visions/Influences, Queensland Art Gallery; Tagari Lia – My Family, Contemporary Aboriginal Art, Glasgow, 22nd Festival International de la Peintre, France; Urban Aboriginal Art, Hogarth Gallery, Sydney
1989 Najanooga & Cross Currents, Cooee Gallery, Sydney; A Koori Perspective, Perspecta, Artspace, Sydney; Building Bridges, Bondi Pavilion, Sydney; Survey of Aboriginal Art, Bloomfield Galleries, Sydney
1988 A Changing Relationship, SH Erwin Gallery, Sydney; Arone Meeks/Thancoupie, Capricornia Gallery, Cairns; ANCAAA & Boomalli Artists Co-op, Sydney; From Pukumani
Poles to Sand Paintings, Coo-ee Gallery & Crafts Council of NSW
1987 To Ao Marama, 7 Maori Artists, 7 Australian Artists, National Tour Art/ Aboriginality, Portsmouth, UK; Aboriginal Views in Print & Poster, Australian Print Council tour; Boomalli au GO GO, Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Coop, Sydney
1984 Koori Art 84, Artspace, Sydney

Collections
Kickarts Contemporary Arts Collection
Cairns Regional Gallery Collection
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT,
GOMA, Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland
Queensland Art Gallery
Art Gallery of NSW
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Australian Museum, Sydney
The National Museum, Canberra, ACT
The University of Queensland
The University of New South Wales
Queensland University of Technology
Flinders University, South Australia
The National Gallery of Japan
The Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada
Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, USA
The Bromberg Collection, Cincinnati, USA
Institute of American Indian Art, Santa Fe, USA
The Simons Foundation, Vancouver, Canada
The Kelton Foundation, Los Angeles, USA
Biblioteque Nationale, Paris
OTC Australia
Australia Post
Aboriginal artist Gallery, Sydney
City Gallery, Christchurch, New Zealand
Private Collections Japan, France, USA, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia