Mankini Island is a fictional place that I have invented. For argument’s sake, let’s imagine that Mankini Island is real. What would it look like? Who would live there? And most importantly, is it possible to survive on this island? My paintings need to be decoded to answer all these questions. Almost all of the needed information can be discovered in the titles of my paintings. The titles lead us down a path into a mythological realm, a botanical world laden with iconic characters. Although it could just be a hallucinogenic vision brought on by one of Arthur Karl Heffter ’s personal experiments with psychedelic substances such as peyote.
If Mankini Island were just a vision, how would we be travelling around this Gethsemane? Would it be on foot or would we have a deity guiding us around the olive groves? I envisage us to be riding around on an Epona, leading our souls inwards. Waiting for an Entheogen to establish itself and show us a type of truth, transcendence. But then again, there is an Arrojadoa theunisseniana cactus whose only meaning could be one of beauty. This Arrojadoa theunisseniana may as well be here to bring us back to our current reality. Meaning a reality in the present to be in this situation to view paintings by using our individual experiences in life. Maybe a visceral emotional response to the paintings themselves is all I’m asking the viewers to have, to bring out our own Chimera. This would only however allow us to acknowledge a type of ‘bad faith’ within us.
We crave to find meaning in our lives and in art. We look up into the night sky and dream, just like Giovanni Domenico Cassini did. Astronomy brings us back to a location, it seems amongst all the nonsensical codes I had given, I am not using Mankini Island as a metaphor for any metaphysical enlightenment. Perhaps I’m simply saying that Mankini Island is Australia, may it rest in peace.
–David Griggs, 2020
David Griggs has exhibited extensively throughout Australia and South East Asia, including notable exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne; Blacktown Arts Centre, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Artspace Sydney, Sydney; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney and Manilla Contemporary, Philippines. In 2019, David Griggs was commissioned by Palais de Tokyo, Paris to create two 8.4 metre long paintings for the exhibition City Prince/sses. In the same year Griggs’ major survey exhibition BETWEEN NATURE AND SIN finished touring Australia. In 2018 he was included in Becoming Animal at Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, Denmark. He also participated in New York Paris London Rome Manila City Jail, at Green Papaya Art Projects in Manila as part of a cooperation with Asia Link and the Australian Embassy in 2009.
Griggs has been selected as finalist in the 2007, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 Archibald Prizes. In 2018 David Griggs was announced as the Artspace Sydney artist in residence. In 2003, Griggs was awarded the Freedman Foundation Traveling Scholarship for Emerging Artists, the Willoughby City Art Prize in 2001; and in 1997 the Sir William Dobell Art Scholarship.
Griggs’ work is held in major museum collections in Australia as well as important corporate and private collections internationally, including the Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; University of Queensland and the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney; Tamworth Regional Gallery, Tamworth; Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, NSW; The Powerhouse Museum, Sydney and the Joyce Nissan Collection, Melbourne.
David Griggs has been represented by Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery since 2011.