Jacob Stengle is a Ngarrindjeri artist from the Koorong in South Australia with Jewish heritage from his estranged father. His solo exhibition Faces of Exile draws upon two quite different responses to exile. First, his father’s Jewish heritage has led Jacob to explore parallels between the treatment of Aboriginal people in Australia and Jews in Europe during the years that cover the first half of the 20th century. Each group endured a ‘holocaust’ during which they were enchained, murdered, vilified and dispossessed. Linked to this theme is the fantasy world into which children, suffering the worst forms of privation and institutionalization manage to escape through their fertile imaginations and dreams.
Jacob’s memories of the characters and incidents of his youth evoke those endearing characters with whom he grew up as a child. These paintings are a poignant reminder of the power of the human spirit to transcend and lift itself above horror and the most terrible personal circumstance and privation.