Born London 1953
Studies: Medicine, University of Tasmania 1972-74, 1976-78;
Printmaking, East Sydney Tech 1979, 1983; Bronze Casting, ESTC
1990-92; Fine Arts, Sydney Uni 1985-91, MFA NSW Uni 1993-95
2009 Marble Carving, Carrara, Italy.
Qualifications - B Med Sc, MB BS, FFMACCS, Dip Sculpture, BA (Hons), MFA
Travelled widely in America, Europe and Asia working at various
periods in Indonesia, India, France, Italy, PNG and Turkey.
Worked as professional artist, environment officer, cosmetic and laser medicine and surgery,
art teacher, film script writer, graphic artist.
1979 VAB Special Purpose Grant
1981 VAB Studio Residence, Karolyi Foundation, Vence, France
1984 VAB Studio Residence, Besozzo, Italy
1984 Australian Film Commission, Comedy Fund Grant
1992 VAB Travel Grant
1997 Asialink Residency IKJ Jakarta
1998 City of Hobart Art Prize
Adam Rish has exhibited around Australia over the past 35 years. He is represented in many of the major collections in this country and has won numerous awards. He has worked in collaboration with Aboriginal painters like Fred Tjakamarra from Balgo, and Hector Jandany and Lily Karadada from the Kimberley. He also designs textiles, including kilims from Konya, Turkey, ikat weavings from Sumba, and tapa cloth, in Tonga. Since 2004 he has worked with Mexican potter Lino Alvarez in Hill End, Australia. For the past 3 years his main body of work has been wooden sculpture, based upon Southeast Asian tribal imagery, made in collaboration with I Wayan Sumantra, in Ubud, Bali.
The artist’s interest is in cross-cultural collaboration as "world art" (like "world music") to affirm indigenous culture, regional diversity and the possibility of productive intercultural relations. He takes traditional techniques and adapts them by employing modern images, so for example, cars, planes and television sets may take the place of traditional abstractions of flowers, birds and clouds.
The collaborative works are discussed with his co-artists and the images relate to their environment, media and traditional iconography. Rish’s contribution is to place these events in a contemporary context by inserting the kartiya (white person) elements: Thus we see Toyota Dreamings, a Guirirr Guirirr Ceremony Dewari (devil) appears on the midday show and an owl reads the late, late, news, while a Wandjina figure alights from a Weber barbecue flying saucer carrying Erich Von Daniken's guidebook.
In the Mimbres influenced ceramic "Mimbres Man" an armless figure with a television face hops around on a long curling tail, while in "Kumete" an anthropomorphic chicken is surrounded by bone televisions.
As for the sculpture: In “My Kingdom for a Horse” a wooden horse rides backwards on the back of a blind king. “Noah” has only a climate change desert to walk his boat over. “Totem”, an Asmat house pole, stacks cars, phones, houses, soldiers and winged AK47’s beneath a little king. “Metamorphosis” has a Kafka cockroach writing a book out of his hand. “Vanity Eunuch” is a glass coffee table supported by a kneeling Narcissus staring into a palette shaped mirror.
While Rish’s work revels in both exotic and graphic elements, in fact these forms are not exotic to the tribal societies from which they come. This art is integral to their collective, cultural consciousness and as such draws spiritual and visual authority from this certainty of meaning.