Duality | Solo Exhibit
Over the years I have been involved in many group exhibitions and a few small showings of my work but this was my first proper solo exhibition.
Held at Fortyfive downstairs from 30th Jan till the 10th of February. Duality was an autobiographical collection of paintings, sculptures and resin castings that showed a glimpse into the evolution of my own visual language.
Reading Karen Kedmey’s article - “How to be an artist, according to Louise Bourgeois” I was struck with that familiar feeling that everything happens for a reason. Wandering through Roppongi Hills in Tokyo last June, I was mesmerised by the 10m steel sculpture of a spider that appeared to stand weightlessly in the middle of the Roku Roku plaza. Maman (Mum) by Bourgeois is one of many works that feature the spider motif. Maman captured my attention because it drew parallels with my life. The article references some of Bourgeois’ sketches and notes to support the hypothesis; an artist’s best work reflects their own life. Whether this is done as literally as Frida Khalo depicting her miscarriage, or as cryptically as the metaphors that pepper Dali’s surreal landscapes, Bourgeois stated: “Tell your own story and you will be interesting.”
The themes of the spider and her web; entrapping, repairing, building, changing and even the metamorphosis of her prey crept into my work organically.
Last year I was bitten by redback spiders on three separate occasions. Each time my body overreacted to the venom, requiring a few days in hospital to remove the sizable cysts that had manifested. I figured that this was my pound of flesh to pay for past bad deeds. One of the bites occurred on my painting (index) finger which
needed to be cut to the bone. At first, I was in shock as to how such misfortune could happen not once, or twice, but three times.
While I was recovering, I did some reading and found that if a spider bites you, it is trying to tell you something; if it bites you again then it is something important; with three bites - I figured this must be a pretty big wake up call. Throughout the year my physical and mental health had been in steady decline. Turns out 20 years of spray painting had filled my body with a plethora of poisons and the spider venom was just letting me know that I needed to detox. In a way, the poison was a catalyst that triggered a metamorphosis.
I have longed to expand my personal visual language for many years. It was these critical factors that forced me to undergo a journey of self-discovery to find a new painting method more conducive to a healthy and happy lifestyle. This knowledge that my passion for graffiti art and spray paint was slowly killing me and that I couldn’t use my hand to hold a spray can due to the surgery (removal of spider bites/cysts in index and thumb and broken 4th metacarpal) forced me to begin experimenting with brushes and rollers that I cut into custom shapes to produce repeated line work. You can see the influence my many trips to Asia have had on my line work. This exhibition reflects a timeline that shows the growing pains of a graffiti artist, trying to find his own visual language, purpose/place outside the confines of the underground while still maintaining his own artistic language.
In the past, I have used travel as an escape to deal with trauma or add meaning to a life that had been previously plagued with depression. Last year my trip to Japan and time in Bali helped to shape my new process of artistic experimentation. I had been taken outside of my comfort zone due to sickness and mental health so I decided to also physically and artistically push out of my comfort zone. On my travels, I found ancient Asian influences, adopted some old techniques and created some of my own. This journey through styles and methods has taken me away from sickness and freed my mind. It has been a cathartic process.
The layering of the paintings is literally the metamorphosis of style; the new encroaching on the old. Like an archaeologist’s dig site, each layer could be swept aside revealing another complete work as with the artefacts set in resin. Set like layers in stone, as though each new layer is just as important as the last, yet repainted as soon as it has dried as though none of the layers are important.
Duality is a contested theme in philosophy and literature. As a near bipolar Gemini, I have thought about this concept since I was a child. It was a scene featuring the character “Joker” in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal jacket that hit home for me as an angry young anarchist. When asked why he has a peace sign pinned to his coat and the words born to kill written on his army helmet, Joker replies “I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir. The duality of man, the Jungian thing, sir.”
I titled the show Duality as life and art are in a constant push and pull of opposing forces. Instead of fighting them I am trying to now embrace them. The recurring motifs of the hand and the eyeball fall into this theme of the yin and yang. The eye is the first point of contact. It can show love or fear. The hand can embrace or attack.
I hope you connect with something, if not that’s ok, I really enjoyed making it all.