News & Commentary, Visual Arts

Constructivist art for a global struggle

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Criminal law barrister and independent curator Koulla Roussos tells how she commissioned artist Franck Gohier to create a limited edition print on any issue he deemed encapsulated the times. The results are available for sale, with more artists’ commissions planned.

As we confront the impact and scope of COVID-19, this print by Franck Gohier (b.France 1968), a leading Darwin contemporary artist, master-printer and provocateur, represents the role artists play in presenting and preserving as a form of documentation the events of our time – not as a-historical, random phenomena, but as events intimately connected to and shaped by our historical past.

In the work above, Don’t Cough Comrades, Gohier references an iconic Soviet image created by the Soviet Constructivist Alexander Rodchenko (1891-1956). His 1924 propaganda poster “Books (Please)! In All Branches of Knowledge” featured Lilya Brik, a member of Russia’s avant-garde.

The aim of this commission is to donate copies of this limited 99 edition A3 print to the cultural institutions in Australian which hold Gohier’s work in their collections.

I decided to commission Franck Gohier for a limited edition print on any topical issue he deemed encapsulated the times and events that we find ourselves in.

Our professional relationship stems from 2013 when I launched my curatorial ambition with Flash Art: Part 1, The Don Hotel (2013).  One of my curatorial missions was to produce visual art experiences across Darwin locations unconnected with art, featuring and foregrounding Darwin contemporary artists whose practice incorporates Darwin’s unique location, history, culture and in-built environment and situating these within broader international art historical concerns.

Despite his status as a leading mid-career artist of national and international repute with works in important private and public collections, Gohier never once hesitated, immediately responding to requests to lend or create new work, develop curatorial themes and narratives and assisting in the presentation and installation. 

I gained an understanding of his practice over the years, through our frequent meetings in his professional studio, a temple to contemporary art,  behind his suburban house in Millner, hatching, planning, developing and presenting a number of group shows: D.Evolution (2014) and a solo show Franck! (2017) to which he authorised reproduction of his iconic screen prints on vinyl, to launch the Lane Art Space, as part of an NT Government initiative to activate the Darwin CBD by using art.

Here are three poster images created by Gohier responding to these exhibitions:

Salty Plum
Taking Precautions

In 2018, I accepted an invitation with great enthusiasmfrom Art Monthly’s editor Michael Fitzgerald to review Gohier’s MAGNT exhibition. Art Monthly does not have a digital platform so it is reproduced it here on my blog: The Complexity of Contemporaneity (2018, Art Monthly, Exhibition Review).

Gohier’s leadership in his vibrant art and cultural community has been forged not only with a dedicated art practice for over 30 years, but also through his generous support and encouragement to others emerging in the field. Comradeship, collaboration, fellowship are the values Gohier extols. In my view these are the values most necessary to help us overcome the fragility of our human experience as has been exposed by this pandemic. 

Gohier’s works have been acquired by Artbank, the Australian National Gallery Canberra, the Casula Powerhouse Art Centre, Gold Coast Art Gallery, Griffith University, the Museum and Art Gallery NT, Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney, Charles Darwin University Art Gallery and Collection, as well as numerous regional galleries and private collections throughout the world.

Don’t Cough Comrades is printed on acid free 300 gsm ivory board, and each print is individually signed by the artist. 

Fifty of the prints are available for purchase at $75 each, plus postage.

To order a print, email the quantity and your postal address to: after. Net proceeds raised will form the bedrock from which future artists will be paid commissions for poster, photographic and video art.

You can contact Franck Gohier via his Red Hand print website here

Franck Gohier is represented in Melbourne by James Makin Gallery and in Brisbane by Mitchell Fine Art Gallery

2 responses to “Constructivist art for a global struggle

  1. It is a brilliant original image reflecting Franck Gohier’s acute sensibility , cool style and deep knowledge of art history


      The image at the top of this article is yet another riff on Soviet propaganda graphic design, 1924 by Aleksandr Rodchenko. This image has been copied and re-appropriated so many times its a bit of a joke. Even the band Franz Ferdinand used it. I believe we should have a moratorium on the use of this image and others like it…hear that Shepard Fairey!

      Has our “art writing” degenerated so low??

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