An Exhibition of Contemporary Australian Art September 16th - 28th 2009 3 Bedfordbury Gallery Covent Garden London
Launched in 2009, COMODAA (Contemporary Modern Australian Art) was established to promote Australian art to a wider international audience and give talented contemporary artists new exposure. Our mission is to present and promote serious contemporary Australian art by a select, collectable and highly respected group of innovative artists. COMODAA is a privately owned independent art business that is not tied to any other gallery, dealer or auction house. This enables greater flexibility with a personal bespoke service on offer. Founder and Director of COMODAA, Jonathan White, moved to Australia in early 2001 and has lived in both Melbourne and Sydney. He has worked in the Australian art market for the past 7 years. In this time Jonathan has amassed a wealth of experience including running a Sydney gallery, curating many exhibitions both in Australia and Asia, advising to private and public collections including The Australian Museum and MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) and visiting many of the Aboriginal Art Centers in the Central and Western Desert, meeting the artists and handpicking artworks for exhibitions. Through a regular exhibition schedule starting in September 2009 COMODAA will undertake various solo and group exhibitions in London to showcase the current contemporary artists of Non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australia. As well as regular exhibitions COMODAAâ€™s primary home will be its website, www.comodaa.com. Visitors to the site are able to view artworks, find out about current & upcoming exhibitions and read the latest news on COMODAA artists. The website also provides a membership facility to My COMODAA (the personal members page). Here guests are able to create their own gallery or wishlist, preview upcoming exhibitions, enjoy monthly updates in the form of a newsletter, Australian art market updates/auction results and new paintings from the COMODAA artists. In addition members can update their profile and have access to the latest artworks released. As a launching gift from COMODAA annual membership will be free until the end of 2009. Any visitors or members who purchase artworks from COMODAA become Clients and automatically receive free membership. One of the main benefits of becoming a member of My COMODAA is the bespoke advice on what and who to buy, whether it is for a collection or part of an investment portfolio. Advice is also available for art portfolio management. Membership to My COMODAA also allows members to obtain guidance on framing, shipping, valuations, cataloguing, conservation and restoration. COMODAA has facilities in place to allow clients to purchase artworks by way of payment plans. A permanent gallery in the UK is planned for 2011.
Giles Alexander Kieran Antill Jimmy Baker Stefan Dunlop Jane Fontane Sam Leach Helen Tyalmuty McCarthy Maryanne Nampijimpa Michaels Jackson Slattery
GILES ALEXANDER “My work is primarily about religious architecture as propaganda and functions as a continuum of the post-reformation, western perspective tradition. Writing on beauty in imagery, Dave Hickey notes in his book The Invisible Dragon, ‘the fact that it cannot be trusted, that imagery is always presumed to be proposing something contestable and controversial’. Reflecting on this, my practice seeks to be at once reverential and contemplative while also being illusionist and superficial.” – Giles Alexander, May 2009
The motivation for UK born artist Giles Alexander’s art stems from “looking back to what I have left behind”. The son of an architect growing up in England, he travelled extensively in Europe where he would visit the historically significant, religious buildings with his father: these architectural inspirations acting as signposts documenting Alexander’s autobiographical identification with his old-world, as immigrant to the new-world in Australia. The thematic depiction of religious buildings and their interiors becomes the subject matter for audiences to meditate on religion and propaganda. Alexander’s exquisitely lit views of religious interiors create a heightened atmosphere of drama, power and elegance and convey the headiness of ‘blind faith’. Alexander is fascinated by contemporary society’s post-secular epoch with religious fundamentalism of all kinds on the rise, particularly in view of the scientific and technological realities we rely on day to day. Layered upon this observation is the consumerism that seems to be the western worlds guiding light. Society’s unquenchable desire to have and consume is metaphorically and physicality represented in the artist’s use of high-gloss, seductive resin coatings applied on top of traditional oil paint. The irony being that religious art is being depicted and repackaged to sell to the consumer art market. Alexander first began exploring ideas of propaganda, the proliferation of the image and its use in politics, media and advertising three years ago, during his honours year at the National Art School (NAS) in Sydney. A triptych made at this time, ‘His Master’s Rose-Tinted Voice’, for which he was awarded the Metro 5 Prize in Melbourne (2007), deals specifically about propaganda and how meta-narratives are cultivated in politics. As well as painting at the NAS, Alexander has also studied mixed media and design in the UK. Witnessing how religions have played a central role in developing and exploiting iconography throughout the ages has become central to Alexander’s present work, particularly in light of global religious polarisation. The oil and resin paintings being exhibited showcase the hyper-real paintings of old world religious architectural interiors from Europe and the USA. Over the past five years, Alexander’s work has become highly sought after by private collectors in Australia and beyond. With 16 group show and five solo exhibitions in the past few years, this artist has become distinguished in his rich painting style and complex subject matter. Nationally recognised prizes include being a finalist in the Blake Prize Touring Exhibition (2006) and Duke Prize (2007 and 2008) and be awarded first place in the MCQ International Art Prize and the Murray Sime Painting Prize. Meaning and interpretation aside, most fundamental to mesmerising paintings produced by Alexander is the solemnity and ecstasy of the subject, which is honoured by a traditional and meticulous oil technique that makes his artistic career one to watch.
Giles Alexander 1846. Clay bricks and Mortar, Lime and sand, Wood, Scored plaster, Embroidered fabric, Stained glass, Istrian stone, Candles, Tile, 2008 Oil and resin on polyester 105 x 65 cm
KIERAN ANTILL “The smallest curve can determine the entire shape. This is as simply as I can put my pursuit for perfect line. I base all of my work of the idea that it is not more than a few lines that hold the entire piece together.” – Kieran Antill, May 2009
Sydney born artist Kieran Antill’s subtle yet deeply captivating drawings have an ethereal element to them thanks to the intricate history of interwoven layers complimented by points of tension that activate and deactivate curves to guide the viewer’s eye. All of Antill’s abstract figurative paintings share a quiet energy, exemplified as he explores the human and animal form as reoccurring subject matters. In 2007, he created a series of paintings of horses and recent projects include the bold and sensuous Lip Diaries series – featuring various red lipsticked mouths that make for a striking statement against the white backgrounds – as well as a number of beautifully restrained images of nude models. Showcasing five acrylic, pigment and charcoal on canvas pieces here in London, this new series of paintings, each 1200 x 1000 mm, encompasses numerous artistic techniques. The works are created with five shades of layered white made with gesso, pigment powders and charcoal. The hallmark of Antill’s painting style ranges from water erosion, heat exposure, acrylic peels and hand sanding. His body of work takes inspiration from old walls and natural erosion, which adds to the organic feel to each painting. These new works deal exclusively with one model and reflect the artist’s reaction to the modern lives that we feel compelled to live. He wills the viewer to stop, be quiet and think on a single thought, almost like meditating among the white hues. This translates into a metaphor for simply taking a breath without having to quickly exhale and draw another breath. Antill references the late Brett Whitely, the famous Australian artist who was well known for the Asian aesthetics in his oeuvre. However, in contrast to the minimalist precision of Asian artists, Antill’s work tends to find its minimalism in a far more labour intensive fashion that results in his truly poetic, considered and evocative paintings. Antill’s other big influence is Egon Schiele, a major Austrian figurative painter from the 20th Century whose work encouraged him to embrace raw finishes and lessened a need to fill the space. No stranger to international commercial success he has sold his work through exhibitions held over the last decade across the USA, London, Germany and Australia. Leaving Australia at age 18 to study under the guidance of Stephen Sellers at Cardinal Stritch Fine Arts College, USA, Antill completed a double major in Fine Arts and Graphics. Following his studies, Antill toured the United States as a guest speaker talking about motivations of the arts for the youth and taught post-graduate role Fine Arts and Graphics at his alma mater. One of Antill’s most recent commercial projects was a collaborative artistic effort for the ‘Earth Hour’ project, where he joined forces with the likes of US artist Shepard Fairey. The resulting Vote Earth/Earth Hour campaign was shown in 74 countries and involved one billion people worldwide.
Kieran Antill End of Noise: ahhh yup yup yup white, 2009 Charcoal, pigment and acrylic on canvas 136 x 111 cm
JIMMY BAKER Jimmy Baker was born at Malumpa rock hole near Kanpi. Known at the time as Pintjutjara, he first encountered white man in the early 1920s. Prior to this, his family knew nothing of white man’s existence and thought they had seen monsters. It turned out the white people were missionaries traveling via camel train from Ernabella mission in South Australia to Warburton in Western Australia. This chance meeting was to be the beginning of the family’s association with the mission and eventually resulted in the family moving to the Ernabella when Jimmy was in his late teens. Baker’s first job at Ernabella was grinding flour and making bread and “big damper”. It was here that his surname accordingly became Baker and he adopted the first name of Jimmy. Later, Jimmy moved to Kenmore Park, a station near Ernabella where he was taught to fence and this work saw him travel from Kenmore Park all the way through Fregon and on to Mimili (Everard Park). It was here that Jimmy met his wife and took her back to Kenmore Park to live. He is father to three children, Anton, Kay Baker Tunkin and Marita, all of whom became artists and leaders in the movement to establish the well known Tjunga Palya artists. Beyond painting, Baker now spends his time between Kanpi, Watarru and Alice Springs and is much sort after for his healing powers as a traditional medicine man. He is the custodian of the important Kalaya Tjukurpa (Emu Dreaming) as well as a number of other Dreamings. In talking to Jimmy, he makes no distinction between himself and the emu in the story. The man and the Dreaming are one – that is, he is the emu. Baker’s three paintings in the exhibition are all acrylic on linen. Among the works is Marlilu’s Anangi (Marlilu’s Travels) – measuring 148 x 120 cm – that deals with the legendary figure of Marlilu, a woman who features in many of the stories from the Pitjantjatjara lands between Kanpi and Watarru in. Marlilu is responsible for the formation of many of the landforms in the area including the underground caverns one finds at Mt Lindsay, the mountain that towers over the Watarru community, her cave near Kanpi and many of the lakes and swamps in between. This creation aspect of her persona lends her to comparison with the Tingari of the Pintupi tribes further north and west. Here, Marlilu and her sister are moving around the country, looking for two men who they want to be courted by. An interpretative guide of the iconography assumes the painting is orientated with the inverted U of pure orange sitting at the bottom of the painting in the middle. A keen storyteller, Baker enjoys his painting as a way to continue the lineage of his community and family and is motivated to preserve his stories and culture through his work by making western people aware of them. The contemporary art word is richer for this experience. Despite his artistic kudos so far, it is amazing to realise that Baker did not even commence painting until 2004. By the time the 2005 Desert Mob exhibition was held in Alice Springs, he was already being noticed for his talent. Having shown annually since then in the Desert Mob group exhibition, Baker has also exhibited at private galleries in Sydney and Melbourne. He was a feature artist in the National Indigenous Art Triennial `07: Culture Warriors Triennial Exhibition at the National Gallery in Canberra, which also holds his work in their collection.
Jimmy Baker Marliliu’s Tjurkurrpa (Marliliu’s Travels), 2008 Acrylic paint on linen 148 x 120 cm
STEFAN DUNLOP “I would like my work to be received for what it is, a genuine “crack” at the medium. Painting has to work hard to stand up and stand out in today’s environment. ” - Stefan Dunlop, May 2009
Stefan Dunlop is clearly passionate about the skill, execution and craft of painting. An artist that strives constantly to reconcile how to make his work better, Dunlop’s vivacious figurative painting oeuvre is made distinct with its striking use of composition and colour. Living and working in the rural hinterland of Noosa, in the sunshine state of Queensland, this 37 year old artist is driven to explore the ‘level’ of the effect created, whether its in the painting techniques or colours employed, or the ambition and commitment found in an accomplished Old Master work. His current emphasis on colour as a dominant element has been largely unintentional: the result being a distinct separation between unmodulated colour fields leading to a sharpness in his paintings. Marking a transition away from triangle composition towards ‘unbalanced’ diagonals, Dunlop is interested in paint and its possibilities. The viewer can witness a great physicality in his handling of paint; he relishes doing “dynamic and risky things with it.” Having long considered his paintings were simply beautiful objects containing all of the formal elements of painting, Dunlop is now toying with narrative in his work: “To some degree I still subscribe to this but no matter how hard you try to de-intellectualise painting, narrative and some conceptual element always remains. I believe that I have only the vaguest control over the narrative in my work however it is there and I genuinely enjoy its presence.” With 10 solo exhibitions and countless group shows under his belt, Dunlop’s paintings have been exhibited regularly since 2001 across Australia, Hong Kong, USA and the UK. Grants and prizes include a forthcoming University of Texas Artist Residency (Centraltrak) and being shortlisted for the Gold Coast Art Prize and Canberra Art Prize. Dunlop studies have included Brisbane Institute of Art, Chelsea College of Art, Slade School of Fine Art, and New York Studio School of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture. The paintings on view are oil on linen works. Broadly speaking the subject matter deals with ‘people’ and harks back to traditional figurative paintings with the central point of differentiation being Dunlop’s varied handling of paint. This subject matter has been chosen both for its compositional possibilities and with a vague narrative reference to conflict and resistance in the 21st century. Never one to rest of his artistic laurels, Dunlop proves himself once more as a potent player in Australia’s contemporary painting scene. The paintings reveal a combination of a more familiar action in painting and his latest interest in graffiti art, which he applauds for its ‘wild style’. Dunlop’s painting draws comparison to graffiti with a strong emphasis on colour, compositional rhythm, exploded space and complex form. An artist who believes in chance and accident in painting, Dunlop’s latest works display a “random accuracy” yet still featuring a real technical skill, energy and emotional component that he has become known for.
Stefan Dunlop Two Figures (pink & green), 2008 Oil on Canvas 167 x 124 cm
JANE FONTANE “I hope when people see my work, regardless of their nationality or culture or age, that they enjoy it. It might bring up childhood memories for them or simply represent a happiness that they have or want in their lives. Or they may view it as something that they just feel like they could look at every day. Ultimately I want the audience to have their own interaction with the works, separate from my intentions. As a ‘young contemporary’ artist I hope the work is viewed as original and as a measure of where young Australian art is at.” - Jane Fontane, May 2009 Born in 1984 Sydney based artist Jane Fontane is the youngest of four children and grew up surrounded by toys such as her two older brother’s Transformers and her older sister’s Barbies. Resonating throughout her accomplished printmaking style, Jane develops ideas of youth and a desire to cling to ideals and icons of childhood as well as the individual’s perception of memory. By exploring these themes in her art, Jane hopes to understand the infantilisation of society and the impact of this. Her art also comments on the ongoing pressure applied to children and the consequences of this for society. In her first UK exhibition, Jane is showcasing four brand new works, which have been screenprinted with an acrylic based paint onto a heavy weight 100% cotton paper. The works are all 760 x 1067 mm in size. These cartoon-like works at first glance mask the fact they are grappling with a more serious theme represented by the notion of the superhero as a child, or conversely the child as a child dressed up as a superhero. The superheroes of choice are Robin (of Batman and Robin fame), The Phantom, Wolverine and The Flash. Once more Jane is examining the societal pressures and sometimes unachievable expectations placed on modern youth: the result being a trend towards the infantalisation of adults. She explores the pressures children experience that translates into an inability or a refusal to ever really grow up. Continuing Jane’s previously explored themes of the “kidult” and the “Adultescent”, these memorable images also represent the youth that we are trying to regain, that feeling of freedom and ultimately happiness. The boys appear as mug shots, almost as if they have been caught being children, playing games and dressing up. The irony being they are indeed children. Jane’s work is not about condemning this behaviour but more a comment on the indictment of how we perceive children, through her own eyes. Two years ago Jane graduated from the University of New South Wales College of Fine Arts, with a degree in Fine Arts with First Class Honours majoring in Printmaking. More recently, she completed a degree in art education. Jane’s Australian exhibiting experiences include the Willoughby Art Prize (where she was awarded Highly Commended Student Work), Geelong Art Prize, Metro 5 Art Prize Finalist, Art Sydney and Art Melbourne. In 2007 and 2008 she was incorporated into United Galleries’ major group exhibition Hip / Pop, an annual show exhibiting the best of young fresh exciting Australian talent. Jane’s debut solo show was held at Saatchi & Saatchi’s galleries in Sydney last October. A Generation Y star on the rise, this young artist’s work is already coveted: her work is held in private collections globally and a multi-panel screen print This Was No Disguise (Alexander’s Revenge) has been acquired by Art Bank, an Australian Government arts support program and the country’s largest buyer of contemporary Australian art.
Jane Fontane You’ve Got it Made With the Rest of the Toys, 2009 Screenprint, edition of 15 107 x 76 cm
SAM LEACH “My paintings are as detailed and objective as I can make them. The craftsmanship of the artwork is important. However, my skill and vision are limited. I am certain to fail to produce a completely realistic representation and instead I finish with an aesthetically determined compromise. Then the whole thing is encased in resin, sealing the work into its own world. This distances the viewer from the work and even further from the artists as well as providing a highly reflective surface. Really, I am suggesting that when we look at animals, like all nature, we are really looking at ourselves reflected back.” - Sam Leach, May 2009
With their dark resin backgrounds that conjure up references to historical architecture painting and 17th century Dutch still life, Sam Leach’s visually powerful style of painting is unmistakable within the Australian contemporary art scene. Leach depicts mesmerising images of animals: some from his personal taxidermy collection, some are from the natural history museum exhibits and some have been found on his parents’ farm in Adelaide. His works are thematically preoccupied by the wealth, politics and corporations that have driven and shaped our culture. An ongoing fascination with the 17th century stems from its birth of the prototype for the liberal capitalist society, whereby the links between commerce, science and wealth were forged in that culture: “The accumulation of wealth and the fear of death are at the heart of our culture. These ideas have shaped our relationships with animals as well as how animals are represented.” The works in this exhibition are still life paintings of animals interacting with or combined with elements of technology. Leach usually works from animals which are dead, even if they are posed in a life-like manner. The works are representations of static scenes as opposed to snapshots or frozen motion. Throughout his work, Leach continually plays on the ambiguous relationship between animals and technology. In his mind, technology as we currently enjoy it owes much to human/nature dualism and the notion of a putative superiority of man over nature, especially as formulated in the 17th century. “Both animals and humans stand to gain from technology and, without doubt, both lose a lot too. Even this relationship is unclear since the line between technology and life is not distinct - in some ways technology is like prosthetic life. These paintings are really reflections on those questions.” In less than a decade Leach has earned a string of enviable accolades to his name and notched up a number of nationwide solo shows and inclusion in dozens of group. He has been a finalist three times in the Archibald prize, arguably Australia’s most popular and fiercely competitive art prizes, among many other prize wins. Widely collected, Leach’s paintings have been acquired enthusiastically by public and private collections in Europe, USA and Australia. Leach’s exhibitions are regularly critiqued in the newspaper and arts press and he is highly regarded by his peers and fans alike. His academic achievements include a Masters of Fine Arts from Melbourne’s RMIT University, where he also earned an honours degree in painting. Leach views contemporary art as an international movement and notes the ideas in his paintings are not unique to Australia. His ultimate hope is that overseas viewers will understand the ideas he explores but might also see something different in his approach to them.
Sam Leach Cosmotron, 2009 Oil and resin on board 45 x 30 cm
HELEN TYALMUTY MCCARTHY Aboriginal painter Helen McCarthy Tyalmuty was born in in 1972 in Tenant Creek, the fifth largest town in the Northern Territory. She spent much of her childhood at Nauiyu Nambiyu Community (Daly River) and completed her secondary education in the Atherton Tablelands in far north Queensland. Initially pursuing a teaching career, McCarthy completed her degree at Deakin University in 1994. It was while at university that her promising arts career launched. Following participation in her first art festival in 1993, McCarthy’s painting continued to flourish over the decade she worked as a full time as a teacher in Australia’s remote communities. Celebrating her first solo exhibition in 2006 in Sydney, McCarthy has since exhibited in Melbourne and Singapore. Helen McCarthy was a finalist in two Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards and in 2007 was awarded the People’s Choice Award for her painting Tyemeny Liman’s Wutinggi (Grandpa Harry’s Canoe). Now a full time artist, McCarthy divides her time in her community at Bulgul, on the coast between Daly River and Darwin and with her family in Darwin, where she remains a committed family woman to her son and four sisters. She is also passionate about helping underprivileged children from all races. McCarthy’s acrylic on linen paintings seen here delve into the Syaw and Kanbi Stories. In Syaw, we can see how local life for McCarthy’s people that revolves around the sea: her family’s house at Bulgul is about 15 metres from the beach and an important part of local life is fishing as well as crabbing and seafood forming the fundamental protein base for these people. Traditionally, fishing nets have been made using the spine of a matapan palm. The inner fronds of the palm are pulled out, the stem broken at the top and the spine removed. These strands are then rolled on the thigh to form the strings for the net that are then bound together to form a complete net. The nets are organic, very sturdy and have long lives. Rather than being discarded, they tend to be patched up over time to be used again and again. A close look at the paintings allows the viewer to see where new sections have been woven in as older parts have rotted away. This also accounts for the variety of colours in the net. While the nets are still made today, they tend to be created as gifts for special occasions such as weddings. Normally they are made by the women - McCarthy has made these nets many times. The Kanbi story marks the first of a new genre of pieces by the artist and examines one of the icons of the Top End, the Kanbi or didgeridoo. Interestingly, there is a wide misconception that didgeridoos are an integral part of Indigenous ceremonies across the country when they in fact originate from the Top End of Australia. Together with the clap stick and the song they are a core element of ceremonial life. In this work, Helen shows only the didgeridoos but behind the imagery is the full ceremonial gathering she refers to as Wangga. A remarkable Indigenous Australian artist who is keen to grow her reputation abroad, McCarthy remains an intensely ‘tribal woman’ in spite of her numerous achievements in the non-Indigenous world. She hopes her paintings are appreciated for their aesthetic qualities and the cultural significance behind them.
Helen Tyalmuty McCarthy Tyek Tyek (Welcome to my land) 2009 Acrylic paint on canvas 140 x 138 cm
MARYANNE NAMPIJINPA MICHAELS “One of the standouts from this exhibition is Mary Anne Nampijinpa Michaels. The way she thickly lays on the paint and drags it quickly around the canvas (as opposed to a more traditional dotting technique) produces fluid and powerful works. Michaels’s confidence is derived not so much from the medium, but from knowing her stories and her place in (and of) the land.” – Article entitled ‘Desert stories: just the beginning’, Sydney Morning Herald, February 28, 2007.
An emerging contemporary Indigenous artist from the Nyrippi area in the central desert with a rich story behind her, Mary Anne Nampijinpa Michaels’ paintings focus upon her traditional country which is known as Lappi Lappi Jukurrpa (or the Lappi Lappi Dreaming) Like all Aboriginal artists from this area, Michaels is only permitted to paint the stories that belong to her and relate directly to the traditional lands; in essence, her connection to country and culture. The country here belongs to Nampitjinpa, Jampitjinpa, Nangala and Jangala skin groups. The pieces on view are painted on Belgium linen and tell the story of Lappi Lappi, a rock hole near Lake Hazlett, about 90km northwest of Lake Mackay in Western Australia. Located in a sheltered basin, the rock hole at Lappi Lappi is a permanent source of water and surrounded by land rich in ‘bush tucker’ eaten by the people. In the time of the Jukurrpa many mothers with young children would gather there because it was a safe place to stay. The rock hole at Lappi Lappi is also home to a Warnayarra, a rainbow serpent, which travels underground between various rock holes. The story goes that one day women were gathered at the rock hole with their children, singing and dancing. Once the Warnayarra heard the sound of voices, it traveled silently towards them under the water: when it reached the edge of the rock hole, it rose out of the water and ate them all. Michaels’ work speaks loudly of her cultural pride as well as her connection to her people. Painting provides the artist with one of the only ways of earning a living in remote Australia but moreover is a conduit to have her share her culture with others. Michaels began painting to show the world culture that had meaning and value and essentially painting forms a bridge between Indigenous Australians and the rest of society. Notching up an impressive 20 group exhibitions in just the past three years, Michaels has been shown in private and public galleries across the Northern Territory, Sydney, Perth and Melbourne an well as internationally in the USA, Switzerland and Singapore. Her captivating and aesthetically pleasing art work in many ways bridges the gap between Indigenous and non Indigenous cultures and provides a platform to meet on an ‘equal footing’. There is great merit in realising that for many non Aboriginal Australians and for people overseas buying an Aboriginal painting is their first contact with Australian Indigenous people and culture. For admirers of Aboriginal art, the impressive paintings of Mary Anne Nampijinpa Michaels will make an important addition to any art collection.
Maryanne Nampijinpa Michaels Lappi Lappi Jukurrpa, 2008 Acrylic paint on linen 122 x 76 cm
JACKSON SLATTERY “Episodes from (Dennis) Rodman’s public life are juxtaposed with images that suggest they were gleaned from personal photographs or memories. These images are grouped together and allude to a cohesive series of events, yet their disparate subject matter destroys this impression, causing the viewer to puzzle over a narrative that remains disjunctive and elusive. By recreating episodes I have not experienced, my own persona is in turn blurred with a compelling visual fiction played out in the public realm.” – Jackson Slattery, June 2009
Young Melbourne artist Jackson Slattery’s watercolour paintings are deeply intricate, employing marvelously muted tones that are sometimes flickered with a focal point of colour, often highlighting a particular object or person and at other times he uses a more monochromatic palette. Slattery’s captivating paintings are admirable for their clear, perfectionist details: an achievement that is amplified by their size given most are no more than an A4 sheet of paper. Known for his limited annual art production and fastidious watercolour technique, this 25-year-old artist has attracted a plethora of positive acclaim and earned several prestigious art awards since graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Drawing) from RMIT in 2004. He has been a finalist 2008 ABN AMRO Emerging Artist Award and finalist in both the Dominique Segan Drawing Prize and Siemens Traveling Scholarship. His latest achievement includes winning the prestigious 2009 Metro Art Award for his captivating work ‘Our Plastic Everything is Broken’, an award he won the People’s Choice Prize in 2008. Choosing broad subject matters, past works show sporting animals such as greyhounds and racing horses in action, elements of outdoors and nature, still life interiors, kinetic scenes of people at a rock concert and insightful, ponderous portraits of colourful individuals. His typical painterly wash and meaningful strokes remind the viewer of the cool light of flash photography, which is often unflattering to its subjects to reveal a stark view of reality. A true sensuality is evoked in each of these intense watercolour works, a medium which usually defies such detailed precision but with which Slattery accomplishes great painting results time and again. The works on view reveal the artist’s long-standing fascination with Chicago Bulls basketball player Dennis Rodman. He focuses on how the celebrity came to believe and ultimately assume his own constructed or ‘faked’ identity. Rodman cultivated a highly theatrical identity with his dyed hair and on court shenanigans and this public persona eventually impinged on his personal life. In his meticulously rendered watercolours, Slattery’s depictions of TV stills and photographs of Rodman illustrate a slippage between the celebrity’s private and public selves, observing a performed identity which might ‘mutate from the staged to the real’. Named as one of the 50 most collectable artists by Australian Art Collector magazine, Slattery has exhibited sporadically at a number of artist run Initiatives and commercial spaces both locally and internationally. His paintings have been acquired by Art Bank (Australia largest national contemporary art rental entity), the Victorian Government and private collectors in Australia, New Zealand and Russia.
Jackson Slattery My Plastic Everything (detail), 2008 Watercolour on paper 76 x 100 cm
Editor: Jonny White Photography: Provided by the artists apart from Sowerby Smith (Baker, Michaels, McCarthy) Essays: Amber Daines at Bespoke Comms
Thank you to my brother, Toby, all the sub-editors and spell check. Lastly (not least), to Marisa for her continuous encouragement and support.