Canberra Contemporary Artspace
9 June ⎯ 19 June 2016
There are two types of image. There are the images which you can see, and then there are images which you can bring to mind. The first type (stimulus) decays into the second (memory). Sure, you can ‘imagine’ images, but what are these made up of if not parts of memory? No, there are just two types of image: what you see, and the relics of what you have seen.
The point is, I consider my paintings to be relics. They are reproductions of images that have been kept, out of reverence, in my mind. Each work is a patchwork of small details I have collected: peripheries of old illustrations, the trailing edge of fabric, the unfocused part of a photo, a discarded plastic toy.
In these old things I find lingering promise. They give back to you a value roughly equivalent to the time taken to deliberately notice them.
But the relics of sights that you keep in your head are not aloof, timeless, pure. They are part of living thought. As with every sensation, they all get mixed together. In this case, they’ve been filtered out through the working process. The scars of their birth are there to see.
Overall surfaces or patterns are interrupted, both abruptly and subtly, by other shapes or patterns. I’m going for a sense of depth, of confrontation, a mess of memories.
Bleached, saturated, uncomfortable, just a little bit tired. The works begin deliberately, they repeat and repeat, incrementally, and end up–I hope–treading a delicate line between beauty and ugliness. Experiments in how colour, lines and shapes fall together. That they are there at all, their furry, glitched, obsolete painterly surfaces blinking in light of a contemporary existence, is absurd.
In the end each painting becomes like the small relics that inspired them. A unit of time spent and of care taken. The result of visual thoughts piling up and pushing on one another, of friction forcing outcome. Painting is a pause. A way of noticing the discarded details. A means to impart slowness.
Relics, whether discarded photos or objects behind museum glass, all whisper of worlds long past. The stories they tell are incomplete, fragmentary, and you are left to fill in the gaps. They might be relics, but don’t think of these images as ruins. They are under construction.
Photos © Tim McLaren