I have an affection for the everyday and I am appreciative of conceptualism, minimalism and post-minimalism for their clarity. But equally, I am drawn to expressionism and the shadowy, the uncontrollable and the indistinct. These are the spaces that form in-between the desire for order and the real snarl of stuff. In my paintings the meaning of the work lies less in the final images and much more in the cancellations, erasures and the stuttering click of the images being made. In this process, while you’re busily trying to undo the images, you’re also trying to hang onto the fragments.
Enamel paint, vinyl lettering & gaffer tape on vinyl panels 50 x 100 cm (diptych)
My latest body of work, ‘Essays on Love' aims to present a body of paintings as a tool for articulating a personal internal dialogue, relating to my own experiences of intimacy & love.
This work explores ideas around intimacy, love, vulnerability and connectedness, and the tension between the internal geography of emotion and external political conditions, and exploring how internal feelings connect with larger narratives and outside experiences.
I am interested in placing an emphasis on, and researching what it is that makes the painting process and visual languages, personally, culturally and socially relevant. Love, relationship and connection all form vitals aspects of my complex working life & practice, and painting has always provided me with an effective way to channel a complex range of internal emotions.
I’m driven to paint because it’s such a malleable medium. You push and pull paint around and it transforms, it shows you something. It could be abstract or representational, an image or an object, analogue or digital. Painting keeps driving me to paint, its long tradition, keeps me in a constant dialogue with its history and language whilst letting me blur its boundaries and expand its possibilities.
Within my studio practice I paint because painting is an incorporative and hybrid methodology in which to express, analyse and understand experiences. It is personal and collaborative. It enables and reflects uncertain outcomes linked to visual processes and interpretative storytelling.
As a painter I wish to mediate the traditional constituents of painting practice and the contemporary use of digital media.
In terms of mark-making, I am visually and conceptually intrigued by anonymous visual traces in public spaces and subsequent attempts to unsuccessfully erase them. These processes encapsulate absence and presence.
Untitled Histories (detail)
In the beginning was the word. Funny that, because when I was young the words were chaos and the pictures were the word.
Some of my favourite things are picture dictionaries. They present single words, a description of each word using other words and a picture for each word. These three elements; word, description and image change over time. New and altered entries are required as new ideas, objects and deeds arise. I join in, adding new entries by painting.
The three elements describing the one thing in the picture dictionary, is something I try to replicate in painting. Where the medium (or how the paint got there) is tied to what the painting represents (other than itself) and that both are reflected in the title. That for me is the art, not the painting.
Oil on two plywood panels 80 x 80 cm ea
Being driven to paint is an animal thing for me.
I am a pig for colour - beyond that comes the trickery and expansive conceptual stuff that gives context to my paintings at any given point. Beyond that, I experience great joy and an intoxicating disconnection with the world whilst I am applying paint.
My work is informed through the diversity of culture and I migrated to Australia in 1980 to Sydney from my homeland Switzerland. I lived in Sydney the early part in Australia and in the late eighties till early 2000 as a nomad moving between the two continents Europe and Australia. My art practice informed through responding by travelling, observing and listening recording the process of diversity and the movement of globalisation. I created large audio-visual projects since 1994 exhibited mainly in museums internationally. Since my work derived from travelling the work urbanized as conceptual fraction directly or indirectly as photographic research, drawings planning into sensory installation that invited the viewers to become part of the experience.
As an interdisciplinary artist and living in Adelaide since early 2000 I reflect today strongly on the years as a migrant to Australia in 1980 with the diversity of culture and the erasing of recent physical history. Paintings as a returned focus the pathways reflect the language in relation to departure the whole of human relations.
My initial interest was encouraged by positive responses to my drawings I received as a boy. I quickly developed the idea of myself as the boy who had a talent and, subsequently, the idea of being an artist.
At art school I found the inherent tactility involved with using paint immediately satisfying. Over time I came to view paint as coloured mud. A substance that I could slide over a surface, push and pull it edge to edge, drag it over itself. In my mind there are seemingly endless possibilities of paint application to be discovered. When painting I feel that my body has a compulsion to make particular movements with resulting marks. The imperative of the body, the notion of paint as mud, and the inherent tactility of painting are rewarding characteristics of the process.
The lineage of being a painter interests me. From the cave wall to the present, the subtle and complex historical relationship between painting and the development of human societies and ideas. Painting’s capacity to re-present and reflect the world, and ideas about the world.
My will to paint is energised by the obviously false idea that I can re-present every lived experience with the application of paint on a two-dimensional surface. Also by the conviction to use nebulous ideas to develop imagery and content. Including such things as the spaces between words, and the contemplation of being and not being. I like using paint to attempt to approximate how the world fits together and forms in my head.
A Brief Instant in This World's Life
Painting is a creative outlet and meditative endeavour for myself. I strive to showcase an alternate, imperfect beauty; celebrating the clunky, awkward, amateur, uncanny and fucked-up. For we are all human and flawed. In this way my paintings also challenge the traditional idea of “good” art and the “skilled” artist.
Oil stick on linen 133 x 151 cm
Oil stick on linen 133 x 151 cm
I appreciate the way that a painting acts as a documentation of time. During its making (and sometimes even beyond this), a painting seems to undergo an osmosis of its surroundings. One could achieve a similar archival effect with writing, photography, or illustration. Painting is much less practical than these methods, but as a result gains a certain exploratory freedom. Like spreading a net to catch falling debris, while you can manipulate it to avoid particular things and prioritise others, something unpredictable always ends up trapped. Often it can take a long time before one realises what has been captured in the finished piece. Most of the time it is not what one expected it to be about. In this way, a painting has the capacity to keep reinventing itself and a tendency to unexpectedly veer off-course. I am fascinated by this documentation process. No matter what you paint or how you approach painting, it is first and foremost, a record of some kind.
Painting offers adventure, discovery, hope, intoxication and a state of being lost to the world. When I’m painting it’s as if I’m mining for gold. Revelation of something new, that is the hope, the driving force. Sometimes I look at a painting (in progress) for weeks then finally make a decision about what to do which may take all of half an hour. There’s a thrill in this but there is also a pleasure in the contemplation. Whether thinking or doing there is the connection with the work and the disconnect with whatever else is happening around me. I love it, but others find my absence frustrating and even annoying. About the intoxication. You can get intoxicated by colour when it’s right. Who wouldn’t paint!
Oil on linen 115 x 157 cm
Working intuitively with colour and form, I find the efficacy of painting affords a simultaneous vigour between materiality and action. Moving in and out of an additive and subtractive approach, the process generates a dialogue of push-pull energy and feels analogous to conversation: exploratory, vulnerable, revealing/concealing, spatial, of time.