Sydney, Australia based artist Ben Smith’s paintings are an attempt to combine the beautiful and the unsettling, the humorous and the sincere, the banal and the uncanny in order to reflect his experience of life. Recurring themes in his work are doubt, divergence within a personality and the search for comfort and solace. These themes are explored through multi-layered allegory, using various expressive possibilities of paint.
Queensland based artist Chloe Bennett is an Australian illustrator who studied Visual Arts in the Northern Territory and on the North Coast of Australia.
Bennett works across a range of mediums focusing on the juxtaposition of the natural/bizarre and has an unhealthy obsession with popular culture. Her work sees the pairing of these two concepts, along with the study of the color to create strange, aesthetically pleasing works.
Australian artist Anna di Mezza creates photorealistic paintings based on found vintage photos removed from their original context. Combined to unexpected landscapes, she describes the result as bizarre visual narratives. Her body of work is influenced by found vintage photos, and films, superimposing images on unrelated and unexpected backgrounds to create a visual narrative.
Her paintings are of a mostly monochromatic palette with occasional pops of color. They invite the viewer to make up the plot in their own mind as if the images were taken from a surreal film frame. The inspiration for the concept of her work is the beauty and culture of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, the artists Magritte and Giorgio De Chirico as well as the film makers Hitchcock, Kubrick and David Lynch.
Karen Lynch is an Australian artist, focussing on hand-cut vintage paper collage. She sources material from vintage magazines, catalogues and books. Architecture, nature, space and time are common elements within her visual dialogue. Central to her art is the resuscitation and transformation of pieces of the past into retro-futuristic or surreal landscapes.
Obsessed with color and geometry, Karen’s collages can be playful, often tell a story and try to inspire the viewer. Using old school scissors and glue, Karen creates surreal and retro-futuristic worlds using vintage magazines and books found at thrift stores and markets. She loves the process of juxtaposing 2 or more disparate images and transforming them into impossible landscapes that feel almost real.
Wiradjuri painter Karla Dickens was born in Sydney in 1967. Dickens enrolled in Life Drawing classes at high school where the female form was her main subject matter. She began her formal training as an artist when she enrolled at the National Art School in Darlinghurst, Sydney in 1991, obtaining a Fine Arts Diploma in 1993 and a Bachelor in Fine Arts in 2000.
After moving to Wollombi in the Hunter Valley, NSW Dickens says her work became “more detailed with a stronger Indigenous feel.” Layering of mediums to represent stages of time and experience is a central feature of her work. Dickens uses fabric, leather, paper, paint, feathers, photographs, plastic and ‘all things discarded and fossicked from rubbish tips’ such as old baseball masks, fishhooks and reel, twine and bone to create two- and three-dimensional pieces. Dickens creates collages using an appliqué technique with cloth and paper, while her three-dimensional sculptures are made by rearranging and re-positioning recycled items.
Australian artist Alan Constable is both a painter and a ceramicist. His ceramic works reflect a life-long fascination with old cameras, which began with his making replicas from cardboard cereal boxes at the age of eight. The sculptures are lyrical interpretations of technical instruments, and the artist’s finger marks can be seen clearly on the clay surface like traces of humanity. In this way, Constable’s cameras can be viewed as extensions of the body, as much as sculptural representations of an object.
It may come as a surprise to people unfamiliar with Alan’s story to learn that he is legally blind (with limited tunnel-vision); and also deaf, which makes his world all the more internal and contained. As observers we can only project our own perspectives onto Alan’s work, but one could speculate that his physical challenges have defined his extraordinary artistic abilities.
Alan’s cameras emphasised the handmade, intensifying and celebrating the imperfections associated with the human touch. None are perfect, nor exactly to scale, but it was exactly these qualities that resonated with and engaged audiences.
Broome, Australia based artist Joshua Cocking is quickly becoming known for his surreal compositions and hyperrealist style. Within his compositions, Cocking addresses the relationship humans have with their immediate environment, how one can affect the other and that they are inextricably linked.
After 15 years painting, Joshua has found his visual voice and in the last 4 years and has received acclaim in several prestigious Australian Art Prizes. In 2014 he was the winner of the 2014 Cossack Acquisitive Art Award and was awarded a highly commended in the 2015 Paddington Art Prize and 2015 Black Swan Portrait Prize.
Sean Morris is a Perth-born artist and illustrator, currently based in Melbourne. He works across a range of mediums, including comic-inspired digital drawings, pencils, watercolors, acrylics and the occasional aerosol mural.
With no formal education in drawing or illustration, his style devolved over time, from the more realistic figures he was drawing when starting out, to now not-so-beautiful, nor traditional, characters in his works. Sometimes grotesque and sometimes beautiful, these characters are curious studies of outsider living, and high-brow tributes to alleged low-culture. Trash culture is a common trope through the work of Sean Morris, shaped by his affection of drawing attention to the little physical imperfections that absolutely everyone has. His work also carries in it elements, be they pop sensibilities, or iconography, that everyone can relate to. Looking under the skin of our metropolistic culture for gems of uniqueness, the scenarios and characters that his work portrays hold their own attraction, leaving a viewer torn between curiosity and the desire to avert their eyes and look away.
Shay Colley is an artist and graphic designer from Perth, Australia now based in Melbourne. Shay works in a variety of mediums including collage and drawing and is interested in achieving commonality and balance between objects. He enjoys the grit, grain, abstraction and other uncontrollable imperfections of accessible and affordable print processes. His work often features naive hand rendered type, self-depreciating narratives and salvaged printed material.
He goes to secondhand stores and buys heaps of old books and then hand-cuts and glues all his collages. Colley tries to avoid any digital manipulation of his images – unless he is doing some slight color corrections. He feels computers are a great tool but they remove the ‘realness’ of art. He needs things to be raw and to involve hands.
Manipulating nature himself, Juan Ford is driven by questioning humans’ impact on the bush; but also by a quest to stretch himself creatively. Ford has perhaps been best known as a realist painter, with portraits appearing in such major exhibitions as the Archibald Prize. The shift to large-scale installations was grounded, he admits, in ambition.