Paean
Installation of painting on coffee bean bags, found Ikea chair, painted plastic serving plate
Slot 28 April – 1 June 2019



In this installation, the materials assembled are from the Reverse Garbage in Marrickville, while the Ikea chair was found on the sidewalk on my way home one night from the studio. Individually, the materials are originally sourced from different parts of the world, in myriads of way they have found theirs into Australia, my adopted home country. They have serendipitously gathered in a considered way in this small window space at Slot on Botany Road, Waterloo.

Perhaps it is a process of ageing that from time to time, thoughts meander to how things get from there to here and its associated becomings and desires. With the interrupted lives growing up in different underdeveloped countries and being a witness to the different lives lived while experiencing uprooting and resettling through my own life, seeing parents dealing with the challenges of readjustments and displacements, this period has become formative in a young life. It is this that I pin to for the endless desire to find harmony in chaos, to compose disparate elements and materials into a unified whole, and being acutely aware of the qualities of the lines that define edges and boundaries.

Paean is a life-affirming work with a thought (tribute) to those who come before to allow those who followed an access to freedom to participate and contribute to a cultural life.


-Anie Nheu


Like many artists, Anie Nheu sees her life reflected in her art. She feels that because her life went one way rather than another her art has permission to go that way as well. As this idea of representation grows it becomes an exercise in mapping that can chart life across generations. It can stretch to accommodate ancestors and locate the artist with in a pantheon of concerns that artists will often describe as their way of making sense of the world.

Anie was born on the road, as she said “moving from place to place with my parents since the civil war in East Timor”. To live a life, as she sees it, in 3 parts, now drawn into a “harmonious whole”. This is the map she has given us. Sketched out on 3 hessian bags stitched together with twine and Anie’s painting that has settled across the surface in a way that does not obscure the origin of her bags - bags, metaphorically that she has lumped since her days in East Timor as an infant.

Of course the work is a painting, symbolic of nothing more or less than itself. It gracefully observes the conventions of abstraction and achieves a beauty that is new to the hessian sacks. But Anie has included some jarring elements. The work is improbably placed on the wall, as if she were to continue working on it rather than display it for our consideration. There is a chair, arbitrarily placed that seems to contradict our preconceptions of scale.And far off to the side is a golden oval that might be something venerated.

The painting that is a map has been given it’s own space; it’s own set of preconditions that is different to ours. It is somewhere else. Paean, the title, what does it mean? “A song of praise”, “a creative work expressing enthusiastic praise”. Could we think that from somewhere else we are hearing the voice of praise? That from some other time that could be the whole of life so far, comes a song of praise for the here and now? This moment of quiet pleasure, of walking down a street to encounter something that is a lot like an art work, if not the very thing that art is.

-Night photographs and Text by Tony Twigg