The Art of Existence

 Study of Les Kossatz's Hard Slide. Brown Pencil. © Steven Chu

Study of Les Kossatz's Hard Slide. Brown Pencil. © Steven Chu

At first glance it might seem like Mr. Kossatz is exploring the notion of sacrifice, with his sheep positioned to give animal rights activists a heart attack. The sheep, with its relationship to the shepherd, always had a biblical association. But if one is in suburban Australia, there is definitely more to sheep than Jesus.

The sheep, with its abundance in Australia, is surely one of the pillars of the local economy. This economic association is quite evident in Mr. Kossatz’s art, with the tangible returns (wool and fleece) visible in his works.

Portraying sheep being manipulated by their manufactured fleece suggests a hint of the destructive nature of consumerism. The choice of subject is, therefore sublime, and it should be commended. If Mr. Kossatz had released these pieces with sheep in another country, its effectiveness surely will suffer. So it appears he is interested in the real, like local icon John Brack. Mr. Kossatz is an artist who is fully aware of the times and his context.

But of course, religion is written all over most of his work. It seems, like artist Giles Alexander; Mr. Kossatz is questioning the existence of God through his art. With pieces like ‘Dysfunctional Temple’ and ‘The New Pope’s Red Shoes’, I like how Mr. Kossatz has communicated his ideas or questions clearly. The cast aluminium temple is disjointed, making it unsafe and weak. The pair of luxurious red shoes strategically balanced with three more cast aluminium shoes, with the one on the bottom without a sole (soul?). The five-card hand, suggesting religion is a choice, and the five major religions, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hindu and Judaism all coming from the same deck, suggesting a common ground.

Is art reality? Or is reality art? Deal.


By Steven Chu

Steven Chu is a Burmese-Australian architect and the Founding Director of Alter Atlas.

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Steven Chu