A five metre long perahu carries an uncannily life-like effigy of the artist, guided by a hand carved polychrome rooster. Titled Merantau, 2015, a word that describes one who seeks fortune and adventure away from their homeland, this sculptural installation by Perth-based artist Abdul-Rahman Abdullah was inspired by a research visit to South Sulawesi where Abdullah was able to trace up to eighteen generations of his Bugis heritage. Just as his ancestors sought new shores to ply their trade in the straits of South East Asia, Abdullah conjures his own journey, surrounded by totems of good fortune.
Abdullah’s material magic has been honed through years of experience in the creation of sculptural dioramas and tableaux for tourist attractions. This desire to invent worlds, to push towards the dioramic, towards dream narratives and model worlds evokes the spirit of the ‘Wunderkammer’ as a microcosm of the universe.
Abdul-Rahman Abdullah’s work Merantau is on display in Gallery 23 at the Art Gallery of South Australia during Magic Object.