Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran
Polymorphic Figures 2022
painted and patinated bronze, timber, motion activated sensors and motors
Commissioned by Atlassian Wonderspace in association with the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne
ACCA is pleased to have been invited to lead the in-office global art program for Atlassian Wonderspace. A series designed to champion local creatives, giving them a platform to push the boundaries of innovation within their work through immersive and thought-provoking installations.
Polymorphic Figures, the inaugural work of the Wonderspace program, is an ensemble of six bronze sculptures displayed on irregular plinths which continues the artist’s sculptural exploration of the figure, idolatry, and worship. Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran arrived in Sydney with his parents as a Tamil refugee in 1989, spending his early years considering familial practices of Hinduism and Catholicism. Within these different spheres of worship, he became fascinated by the contrast and similarities of figurative representation, leading to an extensive body of work dissecting and reframing figurative forms.
Nithiyendran’s exploration of the figure is pluralistic and intersectional. He draws upon his own cultural experiences and ideas of inter-cultural exchange (such as the Indo-Greek Kingdom) to create a distinctive figurative language that incorporates historical as well as pop-cultural symbolism such as emojis and urban graffiti.
Polymorphic Figures references Hindu Dvarapala and Japanese Nio guardian figures, forms typically embedded into the architecture of Buddhist or Hindu temples and sacred sites to protect and ward off evil. Nithiyendran’s statuesque protectors are streetwise, one armed with a snake, another a smiling durian fruit, a third bears a reptilian head; they seem mischievous, and look like they want to play, but don’t turn your back.