For over two decades Lisa Roet has won acclaim in Australia and internationally for her powerful investigations into the complex interface between humans and our simian relatives.
Drawing inspiration from a myriad of sources including residencies at major international zoos, field studies of apes living in the forests of Borneo and most recently through her own heart surgery, which was the subject of an exhibition at the White Night Festival in Melbourne in 2014, Lisa’s multidisciplinary approach to her work has challenged, and continues to challenge, fundamental scientific and behavioral theories relating to human evolution and creationism, language and communication, science and art and the relationship between humans and other’ primates. Notwithstanding the potentially political nature of her subject, Roet’s art practice is infused with refreshing vigour, candour and an inescapable sense of mystery, poignantly highlighting how inextricably linked humans and primates are amid the messy uncertainty of biology, nature and culture.
This new body of work for Gow Langsford Gallery looks at ways of communication and stories of Love. Through her signatory image of the ape bust, Roet expresses moments of communication and emotion as she has witnessed through her research into Primate body and sign language at zoos, ape language research centres and residencies with primatologists worldwide. Made form bronze, carrara marble and gold plated bronze, Roet plays with mediums reminiscent of a decadent past. A black and gold marble chimpanzee finger standing 145cm high, pointing and communicating an unknown language; a large bust of a Gorilla is a tribute to a gorilla Roet worked with at the Berlin Zoo while the Berlin wall was falling in the late 80s. This baby gorilla named Bokito was a subject of her first body of work with primates, produced at the Kunstlerhaus Bethanian in Berlin. Bokito became famous after his relationship with a woman at the Rotterdam Zoo (where he had been moved from Berlin in the 1990s) became worldwide news. He escaped his enclosure and hijacked the woman whom had been visiting the enclosure of Bokito daily professing her love for him. She believed this love was returned as she later said “Every time I laughed, He Laughed with me!” The Gorilla escaped his enclosure and dragged the woman through the zoo before being darted and returned to more secure enclosure. Having obvious affinities with the story of King Kong immortalised by Hollywood this fierce yet “romantic” figure stands to represent all miscommunications in love. At first looking fierce and on second glance appearing laughing, the notions of miscommunication between one and the “other” abound.
Lisa’s explorations into the psychology, behaviour and the soul of simian-human relations have attracted an impressive number of art awards, including the prestigious: Geelong Gallery Acquisitive Print Award, Australia (2013),Deakin University Small Sculpture Award, Australia (2012),Fremantle Print Award, Australia (2011),McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park Sculpture Survey & Award, Australia (2005),Australian National Gallery National Sculpture Prize, Australia (2003), The National Works on paper Award, 2003, Mornington Peninsular Gallery, Vic, Australia.
Since her first show at Querhause Gallery, Berlin in 1992, Lisa has been represented by galleries in Australia, Belgium and the USA, has held over thirty solo exhibitions and has participated in more than fifty group exhibitions internationally and within Australia, including: Monkey Grip, Deakin University Art Gallery, Melbourne, which toured various regional galleries throughout Victoria, Australia (2013-14), When I laugh, He laughs with me, Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne, Australia (2014), Chengdu Biennale, China, 2013, McClelland Sculpture Survey & Award, McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park, Mornington Peninsula, Australia (2014, 2005 & 2003),Den Hagg Sculptuur 2007/The Hague Sculpture 2007, The Hague, The Netherlands (2007),Satellite Project (12 Australian Artists), Shanghai Biennale, China (2006),Kiss of the Beast, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia (2005),Lisa Roet: Finger of Suspicion, McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park, Melbourne, Australia (2004).
Lisa has also featured three times in the publication titled Australian Art Collector’s ‘50 Most Collectible Artists’ (2001, 2003 and 2007) and is the subject of a comprehensive monograph by Alexie Glass titled Lisa Roet: Uncommon Observations that was published by Thames and Hudson in 2004. Lisa and her work was also the feature of an Australian Broadcasting Corporation documentary titled APELADY, which was produced by Klaus Toft in 2010.