Mathias Kauage, Biting the Doctor's Arm
The subject of this painting is the artist’s own resistance to an injection while at primary school. In one sense the experience is universal – the fear that a child anywhere in the world might have – in another, this is the encounter between Australian medical staff and a group of Melanesian children subject to a brief period of colonial administration.
Mathias Kauage is one of the founding figures of modern art in the Pacific, and to date the most internationally celebrated Papua New Guinean artist ( he was awarded the OBE in 1998) to have worked in modern media.
Initially he drew inventively, inspired by Chimbu (highland region) myth, but soon progressed to scenes of city life in Port Moresby and political events. Embracing colour, Kauage produced major paintings around Papua New Guinea’s Independence in 1975, as well as aspects of colonial history and his own experience.