Lucas Grogan’s work is as beautiful as it is dangerous. Any practicing artist will know that in terms of appropriation virtually nothing is sacred. After-all, appropriation is the key to progressive forms moving and shaking within the tempestuous times we live in. All art must go through this process to appeal to upcoming generations and develop new meaning in various contexts. Indigenous art, more specifically that pertaining to Aboriginal Australians however, is not to be tampered with. Or so we are told. The intense spiritual nature of this ancient society’s art practices place it in a realm of iconography that from an outsiders perspective appears to elevate it beyond any comprehension we may have about art. Hence the danger.
Grogan’s method appropriates meticulous Aboriginal techniques traditionally reserved only for those descended from the tribes from which they originate. The deceivingly simple shapes and figures are composed of stunningly fine detail; lines and dots are visually amalgamated into dazzlingly organic forms of banksia seeds and other native flora.
The other side to Grogan’s work is an intense social commentary on not only the figures he is representing but the manner in which he chooses to depict them. A white australian man exposing the seedy underbelly of what has become of the fragile indigenous population of this country is bound to ruffle some feathers. If anything Grogan’s commentary is focused more on the inclusion of Aboriginal art practices into our predominately western cannon, than their bastardization. The ability of non-indigenous Australians to work with the Aboriginal community on sharing techniques can only lead to a better understanding and appreciation of the culture as a whole. Lucas Grogan’s work needs not be met with shock and offense but rather awe at not only his sublime talent, but his tenacity in approaching this sensitive subject in such a beautiful way.