Lunar Module in gentle ruin: exhibition at Deakin University 2019

The Lunar Module, an enigmatic emblem of technology falling into gentle ruin, is set against a seemingly arid but enduring Australian landscape. A young family prepares to depart from Vienna airport for a new life in a country on the other side of the earth.

The paintings in this series titled Lunar Module in gentle ruin, mark my families 50th anniversary since arriving in Australia. A time when the immigration milieu was vastly different to now; when under-population was of serious concern, in contrast to today’s anxious need for Border Protection.

I was too young in 1969 to fully register the Apollo Moon Landing, but in retrospect, it serves as a powerful allegory for broader issues extant today, including, discovery, displacement, and invasion.

While developing these images, I thought how mystifying the first sighting of western vessels must have been to the Indigenous people of Australia, while now in the 21st Century, the crafts of the Apollo missions are already looking retro and historical to us. The lunar modules in my paintings are transplanted in abbreviated Australian landscapes; they are incongruous and exiled from their real history to suggest the ruins of antiquity in a land older than the pyramids.

While developing my work, I was reading Patrick White’s novel Voss which evokes the vast, lunar, empty but spiritual Australian desert. This ‘Great Australian Emptiness’ criticised by White, later proved to be a fruitful source of inspiration for his great work. Christos Tsiolkas in On Patrick White: Writers on Writers, believes that White’s sensibility as an artist is forever deepened by his relationship with his émigré partner Manoly Lascaris, who confers on White a lived perspective of the alienating migrant experience, and the spirituality of Greek Orthodoxy enabling White to see the Australian landscape in a sensual new light, and ‘to be among the earliest to express…the migrants story’.

Working on this series of paintings has prompted me to reflect how my own development, and sensibility has been shaped by growing up (but not born) in Australia. There is certainly a great deal of my Hungarian heritage that I feel that I have missed out on, but the people I have met here and the time shared, exceed any regret I might have for boarding that Qantas flight from Vienna to Melbourne, so many years ago.

Paintings from the exhibition

Lunar module in gentle ruin Oil paint on sized printed paper fixed to marine plywood 100x100cm 2019

Lunar module with grass trees Oil paint on sized printed paper fixed to marine plywood 60x60cm 2018

Vienna airport 1969, my parents and I Oil paint on sized printed paper fixed to marine plywood 60x60cm 2018

Vienna airport 1969, my sister and I Oil paint on sized printed paper fixed to marine plywood 60x60cm 2018

Lunar module with red banksia baxteri Oil paint on sized printed paper fixed to marine plywood 60x60cm 2018

Lunar module with green banksia baxteri Oil paint on sized printed paper fixed to marine plywood 60x60cm 2018

Lunar Module with cockatoos (blue) Oil paint on sized printed paper fixed to marine plywood 60x60cm 2018

Lunar Module with cockatoos (red) Oil paint on sized printed paper fixed to marine plywood 60x60cm 2018

Vienna airport 1969 with Lunar Module and kangaroo Printed paper fixed to marine plywood 90x90cm 2018