Page 1


Shaun Tan

A Surrealist Vision


Shaun Tan – A Surrealist Vision Shaun Tan’s work is inimitable. Familiar and mysterious, lucid and surreal, heartfelt and wry – and beautifully realised. If his stories, images and sculptures seem to emerge fully formed from a waking dream, in truth they materialise after much experimentation and play. As with his published material, Shaun’s preparatory pencil sketches and pastel drawings fire the imagination of the audience… and the artist. These visual musings and observational studies are his proving ground for concepts and techniques – a fluid ecosystem where some ideas are tested and refined, while others are reimagined for different works. But nothing is wasted. As Shaun says: “I frequently have nothing particular in mind when I start sketching... ideas just splinter off. One thing reminds me of another and occasionally fragments from one project unlock some other dormant one. Quite a small percentage actually ends up in a published work; I don’t kill my darlings, I shelve them.” And this exhibition is a testament to Shaun Tan’s beguiling vision, consummate craftsmanship... and good housekeeping. Cefn Ridout Writer and Editor


8 / 7

Flower Tree at Dusk Pastels on paper, 500 x 650mm ‘ An observational drawing from Melbourne’s Royal Botanical Gardens. ‘


8/9

Botanical Gardens Pastels on paper, 650 x 500mm ‘ An observational drawing from Melbourne’s Royal Botanical Gardens. ‘ Big Cypress Tree with Indian Mina Birds Pastels on paper, 650 x 500mm ‘ An observational drawing sketched at Melbourne’s Royal Botanical Gardens. ‘


10 / 11

Dog walker Pastels on paper, 540 x 740mm ‘ I’ve never owned a dog, but always been fascinated by the activity of walking dogs as a kind of meditative, wordless communion between human and animal. The simple act of walking with a dog is likely to outlast all religion. ‘


12 / 13

Arcadia Pastels on paper, 320 x 510mm ‘ A stand-alone piece that evolved from sketch of the street I live on in late afternoon light. ‘


14 / 15

Elemental form approaching a lagoon to be born Pastels on paper, 370 x 550mm ‘ An experimental work based on a misperception of figures gathered on a beach. I took a holiday photo and blurred it beyond recognition, then re-interpreted what I saw. It is an interesting way of generating ideas, a bit like finding shapes in clouds. ‘


16 / 17

Creation Myth Pastels on paper, 500 x 700mm ‘ Related in spirit to work for The Singing Bones, imagining other fairy tales with specific narrative, other than what occurs in the mind of the beholder. ‘


18 / 19

Never leave the back door open (overnight) Preliminary drawing for Rules of Summer Pencil on paper, 297mm x 420mm, 2012 ‘ The principal sketch for a scene of primeval invasion, inspired in part by the fact that when we were kids my older brother essentially turned his bedroom into a small paleontological museum. ‘


20 / 21

Never Give Your Keys to a Stranger Preliminary drawing for Rules of Summer Pencil on paper, 297mm x 420mm, 2011 ‘ An early working drawing for what later became one of the key images in Rules of Summer. A poster of T.S. Eliot in the background – a reference to his cat poems – was a little too distracting for the final artwork, but is a funny detail retained in the sketch. ‘


Never Give Your Keys to a Stranger Colour preliminary study for Rules of Summer Pastel crayon on paper, 300 x 330mm ‘ Colour sketches like this become my primary reference when executing a final painting. ‘


22 / 23

Interview (The Lost Thing) Pencil on paper, 297mm x 420mm, 2010 ‘ Essentially a portrait of myself interviewed by one of my own characters (‘the cleaner’), this drawing was produced as a special feature menu title card for The Lost Thing DVD. ‘ Curatorial Staff Pencil on paper, 297mm x 420mm, 2009 ‘ Originally published as the cover artwork for The Odditoreum (2010) a book and exhibition produced in collaboration with the Sydney Powerhouse Museum. This project involved me writing imaginary labels for strange, miscellaneous objects in the museum’s collection. ‘


24 / 25

Freeway fire, lost, chased by TVs, hitting the road sign, playing with possible number and order of images Preliminary drawing for Tales from Outer Suburbia Pencil on paper, 297 x 210mm, 2007


Fight, degrees of weirdness, lost luggage, gale force wind Preliminary drawing for Tales from Outer Suburbia Pencil on paper, 297 x 210mm, 2007 Penguin peak hour, no vacancy, flood Preliminary drawing for Tales from Outer Suburbia Pencil on paper, 297 x 210mm, 2007


26 / 27

Cog Pastels on paper, 700 x 500mm ‘ Reproduced as a large format edition made available through the Sydney Morning Herald/Fairfax. Originally this piece was an illustration for a newspaper feature of the acclaimed 2015 operatic adaptation of The Rabbits, and the editor liked it so much it was reproduced as a print. It is the first time I have re-visited The Rabbits – the key book that established my career as a young illustrator. ‘


28 / 29

Early Fatherhood Pastels on paper, 740 x 540mm ‘ Somewhat autobiographical! ‘ It was YOU! Pastels on paper, 750 x 540mm ‘ A stand-alone piece which features the same girl I drew for the story The Water Buffalo. Much like that painting, this one’s all ablaut implied story without giving anything away. ‘


30 / 31

Train Colour sketch for Rules of Summer Pastel crayon and pencil over digital print, 210 x 297mm, 2012 ‘ A colour study for a scene in which the younger brother is ferried away in a prison-cell train by a murder of crows, through an increasingly empty winter landscape. Again, the primary reference for a final painting. ‘


Girl worried that she doesn’t belong Pastels on paper, 750 x 550mm ‘ A concept sketch for an idea that I’m hoping one day to develop in to a picture book, about a girl living in a place where she is the only human and trying to understand if that is a good thing, or a bad thing. ‘


32 / 33

Storyteller Pastel crayon and pencil, 840 x 600mm, 2015


34 / 35

No Safe Passage Pastel crayon and pencil, 600 x 550mm, 2015


36 / 37

The New Flame Pastels on paper, 370 x 570mm ‘ Another ’Lost Thing’. ‘


Hatchling Pastels on paper, 740 x 550mm ‘ Originally a poster for children’s art award, this image has also been used for the cover of an anthology of children’s writing called ‘Hatched’. Trying to represent that fresh eagerness of your children when it comes to making art. ‘


38 / 39

Never Lost a Case Pastel crayon and pencil, 840 x 600mm, 2009 Published in The Bird King, Windy Hollow Books, Templar, 2010


40 / 41

Because you feel red to me (dinosaur and artist) Pastel crayon and pencil, 550 x 750mm, 2014 ‘ Originally produced as a poster for a children’s art prize. ‘


42 / 43

Tourists (Rock) Pastels on paper, 590 x 840mm ‘ Open to interpretation, but based on impressions of foreign tourists visiting scared sited in the Australian landscapes. ‘


Tourists (Winged Eye) Pastels on paper, 440 x 550 mm ‘ A sketch on the recurring theme of a group of travellers or tourists observing mysterious, giant entities in the desert landscapes - somewhat related to the ‘travelling gang’ pictures exhibited here. ‘ Tourists (Fish) Oil on panel, 150 x 200mm ‘ Small oil sketches are, like pastel drawings, a good way to playing with random ideas, with sometimes surprising imagery emerging from very loose handling of paint. ‘


First published in the UK in 2016 by Illustrationcupboard Books 22 Bury Street, St. James’s, SW1Y 6AL, London, UK www.illustrationcupboard.com Copyright © 2016 by Shaun Tan All rights reserved ISBN 978-0-9930972-1-8 Design by Daphne H.C. Shen An Edition of only for 200 copies Printed in the UK by Graphic and Print Production


46

Illustrationcupboard Gallery


Shaun Tan

A Surrealist Vision

Profile for Illustrationcupboard Gallery

Shaun Tan Online Exhibition Catalogue  

Shaun Tan - A Surrealist Vision A solo exhibition of pastels, oils and drawings. 200 limited paper catalogues are avaliable to purchase on h...

Shaun Tan Online Exhibition Catalogue  

Shaun Tan - A Surrealist Vision A solo exhibition of pastels, oils and drawings. 200 limited paper catalogues are avaliable to purchase on h...

Advertisement