Ruth Cho’s first online exhibition with Onespace Gallery, Australian Knockoffs, challenges the dominant Eurocentric representations in Australian art history, despite our longstanding cultural diversity. Cho appropriates very familiar compositions from iconic Australian art images – including Down on His Luck by Frederick McCubbin; Spring Frost by Elioth Gruner; Shearing the Rams by Tom Roberts and Charles Meere’s Australian Beach Pattern – to question the exclusivity of predominantly white Australian identity through this art museum trajectory.
As catalogue writer Martha Liew suggests “Australian Knockoffs is a cheekily satiric interpretation of Australian art history with ‘Asian characteristics’ when it is read against the background of Australia’s growing multiculturism. While one may consider Australian Knockoffs as emphasising the artist’s cultural identity and her early reflections on Australian art, the series is more concerned with questioning mainstream contemporary Australian art.”
Australian Knockoffs, completed during the COVID-19 year of 2020, ‘explores the potential to de-Westernise iconic images of Australian identity’. Cho’s exhibition comprises a series of sparingly coloured linocut prints, which evoke the stylistic language of traditional and modern Chinese woodcuts to create new hybrid compositions. These relief prints utilise the aesthetic of Chinese woodcuts to create a visual overlay that convincingly recasts selected Australian art historical iconic compositions as potentially Chinese historical narratives, reminding Australians of our diverse past.