Teho Ropeyarn

rīvus: The 23rd Biennale of Sydney

Exhibition dates: 12 March–13 June 2022 | Location: NAS Gallery, The Drawing Gallery | Hours: Open daily 10am–5pm

Onespace is delighted to announce that ‘Athumu Paypa Adthinhuunamu (my birth certificate)’, 2022 and ‘Ayarra’, 2021 by Injinoo artist Teho Ropeyarn is now on display as part of rīvus: The 23rd Biennale of Sydney at The National Art School.

Teho Ropeyarn is an Aboriginal artist and curator from Injinoo, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland. Born in Mount Isa in 1988, he holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the College of Fine Arts (UNSW) in Sydney and is currently based in Cairns. Ropeyarn is descended from the Angkamuthi and Yadhaykana clans from Injinoo on the mainland, Badu, Moa and Murray Island in the Torres Strait; Woppaburra people (Great Keppel Island) and Batchulla people (Fraser Island).

Having lived in Injinoo most of his life, Teho’s practice is focussed on his father’s people’s heritage, to keep what is remaining, alive. The narratives in Ropeyarn’s work explore several traditional and historical stories including significant events, dreaming sites, totems, the four clan groups that make up the Injinoo peoples and ceremonial body designs encompassing spiritual connection to Country and community on both land and sea. With a focus on preserving and documenting permitted stories and knowledge passed down from Elders, Ropeyarn’s visual narratives are recreated through a contemporary lens. The rhythm, patterns, and imagery in his work often use elements from body markings derived from his region.

For his work in rīvus, Ropeyarn states: “Injinoo (and all Aboriginal) people are at one with the land, sea and sky. We traverse the physical, the natural and the spiritual realms. My work for the biennale is a visual depiction of this philosophy – explaining how the land becomes the human, the human becomes the animal, the animal becomes the land, the land becomes the spirit, and the spirit becomes a device linking these elements. The land will only listen to its people. Aboriginal connection to country is not just belonging. It is a spiritually magnetic system that connects to all other human and natural elements. You cannot remove the people from the land, which finds its way. The land will flourish when the system is reconnected, and Aboriginal people defend this system.”

Commenting on Ropeyarn’s participation in rīvus, Artistic Director, José Roca suggests: “With their interplay between rotund shapes and detailed patterning, Teho Ropeyarn’s large-scale vinyl cut prints are powerful abstractions that refer to different aspects of the visual heritage and traditional knowledge of the Injinoo peoples through a contemporary approach. rīvus, features rivers and other bodies of water and the ecologies they sustain. Teho’s contribution is a series of panels that depict totemic figures linked to the Country and its waterways.”

Roca’s curatorium colleague, Anna Davis, Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, further remarks: Teho Ropeyarn’s vinyl cut prints are grounded in a desire to maintain strong connections to people, culture, and place. Referencing his Injinoo heritage, they unite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designs and draw attention to the importance of transmitting cultural knowledge across generations. One of the most striking features of Ropeyarn’s work is the use of finely curved lines, which create a sense of fluidity and reverberating movement. Through these delicately cut contours, the artist references Injinoo culture, and its connection to water – flowing continuously, vital, and interdependent.

Ropeyarn has been curated into several major exhibitions, including Primavera 2012 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and GOMA-Q at QAGOMA in 2015 and now rīvus: the 23rd Biennale of Sydney in 2022. He has received recognition from significant prizes and awards, nationally and internationally and he has been the recipient of several grants from funding agencies across Australia.

Teho Ropeyarn’s works have been acquired by prestigious institutions and collections including the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Queensland Art Gallery I Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA).

Images: Jacquie Manning. Courtesy of the artist and Onespace Gallery.

Ayarra (rainy season)

Teho Ropeyarn
Ayarra (rainy season), 2021
Vinyl-cut print on paper, 154 x 227cm.
Edition of 5 (State II)
AP + Edition 1-5 of 5 available
$7,500

Apudthama (everyone)

Teho Ropeyarn
Apudthama (everyone), 2013
Ink vinyl-cut print on 300gsm Hahnemühle paper, 124 x 220cm
2AP + Edition 2-20/20 available (State I)
$6000

White timber fence

Teho Ropeyarn
White timber fence, 2021
Linocut print on paper
Edition of 50 (Editions 8-50/50 available)
$800 (framed) | $500 (unframed)

Ipi (water, rain)

Teho Ropeyarn
Ipi (water, rain), 2021
Vinyl-cut print on paper, 154 x 203.5cm.
AP + Edition 1-5 of 5 available
$7500

Ayarra (rainy season)

Teho Ropeyarn
Ayarra (rainy season), 2021
Vinyl-cut print on paper, 154 x 227cm.
AP + Edition 2-5 of 5 available
$7,500

Angkamuthi

Teho Ropeyarn
Angkamuthi, 2012
Vinyl-cut print on paper, 120 x 80cm
2AP + Edition 22-30/30 available
$1000

Ambula Ipima (we are one)

Teho Ropeyarn
Ambula Ipima (we are one), 2015
Vinyl-cut print on paper. 80 x 120cm.
2AP + Edition 13-40/40 available
$1000