Collection highlight: Jeff Gibson’s “Untitled No.1–10”

18 Aug 2022
Ten artworks hanging on a wall, half of them are colourful and half are black and white
Jeff Gibson, "Untitled No.1-10," 1987. Installation view: “Jeff Gibson: Countertypes,” 9 June – 27 August 2022, Griffith University Art Museum. Photo: Carl Warner.

Untitled No. 1-10 (1987) by Brisbane-born, New York based artist Jeff Gibson explores image culture, appropriation and subjectivity by juxtaposing black-and-white photographs with colourful screenprints. This series is part of the UQ Art Collection and has been on loan to the Griffith University Art Museum for their exhibition "Jeff Gibson: Countertypes."

Throughout his career, Gibson has been interested in printmaking practices that appropriate images from cinema and screen cultures. The photographs in Untitled No. 1-10 are made up of graphic black-and-white collaged images taken from film and advertising. These are displayed directly alongside the vibrant abstractions, resembling colourfield painting, that form the other half of the series. This work is emblematic of Gibson's artistic practice which often explores the meaning that can be found through contrasting binaries like high and low culture, or image and abstraction. 

Gibson's formative years as an artist were coloured by the protest culture which emerged in response to the conservative Queensland government of the 1970’s. His practice continues to draw from his anti-authoritarian attitude which was hatched during this time, and his work often has a strong component of political messaging.

Despite their visual differences, all of the images in Untitled No. 1-10 have political implications. The declarative photographs recall the fragmented narratives and tensions present in films made during the Cold War era. While the accompanying abstract works would seem to pacify this political imagery, they too evoke art that was used as a tool of diplomacy during the Cold War. 

Gibson also aimed to present a re-examination of painterly abstraction in light of post-structuralism and semiotics in this work. He is interested in revealing complex processes of meaning making and the ways in which particular codes and signs can be embedded in an image. Gibson states of Untitled No. 1-10 that it is “emblematic of my practice … and of the times.”