To fall, the way the flowers do – to die an honourable death, 2008
triptych, synthetic polymer paint on pop-riveted aluminium, with acrylic sheet and die-cast models
120 x 370 cm
Acquired by public appeal 2017. MAGNT Collection
In this painting Darwin based artist Franck Gohier reflects upon the horrors of war. The bombing of Darwin began on the 19 February 1942 during World War Two when Darwin endured two air raids by Japanese war planes. It was an onslaught that took the lives of more than 230 people, destroyed buildings and sank eight ships in the harbour. The first and most devastating attack was led by Mitsuo Fuchida who was the same Japanese commander responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbour in Hawaii just over ten weeks earlier.
Gohier depicts the scene of destruction from an aerial perspective. He has placed miniature replica Japanese Zero planes enclosed in recessed portals alongside delicately painted Chrysanthemum flowers to represent the Japanese Emperor and Imperial House of Japan. The red circles refer to the Japanese flag and represent the rising sun, while the army green emblems and white star references the Royal Australian Air Force and the United States Air Force which was in Darwin at the time of the air raids. The aerial perspective provides a pilot’s view of the devastation and suggests a perverse beauty amidst the horror of war. It is as if we are looking down upon a pond, where symbols of allegiance and violence float gently like lotus flowers to create an image that is peaceful while holding in tension the destructive potential of humanity and the randomness death.
This painting was recently acquired for the MAGNT Australian Art Collection following a successful public appeal held earlier in the year. MAGNT would like to thank all who contributed to the appeal. It is through their generous support that this important work can remain in the Northern Territory for the benefit of the Territory community. Visitors to the museum will have the opportunity to see the painting when it is on display in the forthcoming retrospective exhibition, Franck Gohier: A thousand miles from everywhere, which will open at MAGNT on 18 February 2018.