We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

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HEGO OA

acrylic and watercolour on canvas

40.7 x 30.5 cm

A Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay/Gummaroi man, born in Melbourne, Reko Rennie is an interdisciplinary artist whose provocative work explores Indigenous culture and identity in contemporary urban environments.

‘Reko creates artwork inspired by American street culture of the ’70s and ’80s that also incorporates traditional symbols of his heritage. His work is engaging, yet powerfully subversive and deeply personal,’ says HEGO, a first-time Archibald finalist.

‘I’m in awe of how his bright, evocative imagery draws you in, only to then whack you in the teeth with a tonne of raw emotion and confronting historical truths. I asked Reko to be my sitter as his unconventional trajectory resonated with me, in that neither of us studied art.

‘For the portrait, I wanted his stare to reflect his confidence, while the necklace he designed and wore to the sitting emphasises his old-school roots and contemporary artistic activism,’ says HEGO. ‘“OA” (Original Aboriginal) is Reko’s riff on the term “OG” (Original Gangster). It is a reference to the hip-hop music he loved growing up, where OG is a title bestowed on someone deserving respect. Today, he uses this play on words to celebrate First Nations people and raise questions of sovereignty.’

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