Inspired by the colour and stylised forms of Persian and Mughal miniature painting, Kushana Bush’s ‘In signs’ 2018 features offerings from pilgrims’ bowls, and gifts of golden candlesticks and books to a martyr strung up by her feet. Bush likens the daily worship at the painting easel to the gesture of a religious offering: a sacrificial and laborious act of love and blind faith. According to the artist:

‘Worship, ritual and faith (even unreligious types, like a belief in the power of art) still have their role to play in contemporary life, they just find new forms; like the friend who reads tarot cards or the meteorologically obsessed husband who worries over forecasts of rain.’

Bush’s intricately detailed paintings borrow from different times and realities, and depict a range of human interactions and behaviours, from acts of devotion and torture to erotic couplings. Offering a somewhat dystopian view of human relations, Bush addresses universal themes – love and hate, revenge and salvation, devotion and rejection, good and evil – that resonate across cultures, geography and time. She draws on disparate influences, including Indian miniature painting, Japanese ‘ukiyo-e’ prints, the rich world of European medieval manuscript painting and events from modern life, and her combinations of seemingly unrelated motifs – from urns and brooms to Slazenger logos – connect different historical periods, behaviours and cultures. Intimate in scale, but dramatic in content, Bush’s painstakingly created compositions foreground the artist’s devotion to illuminating human behaviour.

Exhibited in 'The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art' (APT9) | 24 Nov 2018 – 28 Apr 2019


  • Title: In signs
  • Creator: Kushana Bush b.1983
  • Date Created: 2018
  • Location Created: New Zealand
  • Physical Dimensions: 41 x 54cm
  • Provenance: The Taylor Family Collection. Purchased 2018 with funds from Paul, Sue and Kate Taylor through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation
  • Subject Keywords: APT9, The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art
  • Type: Painting
  • Publisher: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
  • Rights: © Kushana Bush
  • External Link: Moment in the sun
  • Medium: Gouache, metallic paint and pencil on paper
  • Art Form: Painting

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