Tony Albert

Brothers (The Prodigal Son)

By Biennale of Sydney

22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN

Brothers (The Prodigal Son) Brothers (The Prodigal Son) (2020) by Tony AlbertBiennale of Sydney

About the artist

Tony Albert
Born 1981 in Townsville, Australia
Lives and works in Sydney, Australia

Tony Albert’s practice explores contemporary legacies of colonialism in ways which prompt audiences to contemplate elements of the human condition. Mining imagery and source material from across the globe, Albert draws on both personal and collective histories to explore the ways in which optimism might be utilised to overcome adversity.

His practice is concerned with identity and the ascribing of social labels; unpacking what it means to judge and be judged in the absence of recognition or understanding.

Brothers (The Prodigal Son)

This site-specific work by Tony Albert responds to a window in the nearby Chapel building at the National Art School, Darlinghurst, Sydney depicting the prodigal son. Albert has incorporated one of his own references to the holy trinity - drawn from his work Brothers a series of photographs of young Indigenous men who were staying at Kirinari Hostel. The images were inspired by an incident where Albert saw teenagers at a rally protesting an instance of police brutality in Kings Cross, Sydney. 

The demonstrators painted their chests with a red target as an act of protest. 

Placed outdoors, this window memorialises another story of heroic figures, enshrining a beautiful act of defiance, and imbedding a local Indigenous story at this site.

"This work came out of a recent residency at Canberra Glassworks. On a site visit to the National Art School I was struck by the beautiful stained-glass window in the central building, showing the prodigal son. I wanted to recreate this image for the Biennale in leadlight. 

The Brothers images, from a previous series, allude to the holy trinity. Strong and powerful bathed in light, yet still innocent and vulnerable. I wanted to immortalize our people that are all too often written out of history." 

- Tony Albert

Learn more about Tony Albert's artwork, Brothers (The Prodigal Son) in this interview by the National Art School, or explore his sustainable greenhouse installation Healing Land, Remembering Country at Cockatoo Island.

Credits: Story

Brothers (The Prodigal Son), 2020
glass, lead, photographic decal, steel, stone
Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from the Australia Council for the Arts, and Create NSW, and generous assistance from The Medich Foundation
Courtesy the artist and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney
Fabricated with the assistance of Australia Council for the Arts and Canberra Glassworks 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
NIRIN: Art From the Edge
The Biennale of Sydney (2020) presents contemporary art from around the globe in a First Nations-led exhibition
View theme
Google apps