Beware of the Dragon: Tony Coleing’s Peking Duck Duck Duck

Tony Coleing, Food bowl 2015, Inkjet print on canvas, Edition 5, 80 × 120 cm
Tony Coleing, Not made in China 2018, Inkjet print on aluminium, Edition 5, 30 × 45 cm

Australia’s exposure to the diplomatic ructions building around China is significant. Tony Coleing has been observing the “dragon” as it wakes for decades, and his Peking Duck Duck Duck currently showing at Andrew Baker Art Dealer presents his observations of the issue with his characteristic visual power, insight – and humour. Food Bowl (2015) sees the Australian continent draped over a kitchen book holder, glowing red, adorned with a star, while the airspace is overrun by green porcelain ducks. Behind the continent is a scorched earth, floodlit in places and the only survivors appear to be a couple of crows.

In recent years the Australian government has pushed back against authoritarian interference whilst walking the tightrope – which yields the very significant benefits of the Chinese-Australian relationship. The final image in Coleing’s exhibition sums up the many thousands of words written on this subject: Not Made In China (2018) shows two white roses, one in full bloom, the other budding. The text above is almost invisible, disappearing into the image and reads “NOT MADE IN CHINA”.

Coleing’s imagery has proved prescient for decades.

A useful and recent article about Australia’s relations with China is in The Monthly, August 2018:

Tony Coleing, Made in China, died in Australia 2018, Inkjet print on aluminium, Edition 5, 30 × 45 cm

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