Coming to Terms

By Australian-born artist Abdul Abdullah

As the son of a sixth-generation Australian and a Malaysian Muslim, Abdul Abdullah offers a unique perspective into ideas about contemporary Australian culture and what it means to be a young Australian Muslim today.




These self-portraits, entitled ‘Siege’, aim to examine our relationship with the natural world. The series also acts as a conclusion to the 2014 works of the same title. In a way, the human figure is coming to terms with his natural self. He sees his reflection in the monkey he holds and the monkey sees itself in the man. They are the same, but they are entirely different, each seeking comfort and solace in the other. It is an intimate space they share, but one is unspoiled and original and the other a monstrous imitation, each hoping for optimism in their camaraderie. In one way both figures have inherited a world littered with challenges in which they will need to adapt to survive the hostilities.


‘Coming to Terms’ draws on traditional wedding imagery and, by including subversive images like the balaclava, disrupts conventional readings of the work. The balaclava is used as a shortcut to the projection of criminality on marginalised elements in society. The motif of a wedding represents an almost universally understood ritual of optimism and unity. This vision is distorted in the hope of building empathic pathways for better shared understanding.






Images from top: The Wedding (Conspiracy to Commit) / Zofloya (Groom I) / Victoria (Bride I) / Subterfuge (Bride II) / Groom II (Stratagem) Reconciliation (of Self) / Conciliation (of Self) / Th lies we tell ourselves to help us sleep.