paul compton & michael needham
8th august - 16th september 2018
Conjurings is a joint exhibition of new works by Kyneton artist Michael Needham, and Melbourne artist Paul Compton. The two men are drawn together by a darkness, a thin line that joins their sense of the unsettling and uncanny. Together they play with our sense of unease, the fragile nature of our own existence and ego, and how we're all drawn to look into the void of what might lie beyond.
Paul Compton's pieces consist of laying down many small, repetitive line strokes to build up a patterned and textured-looking surface that recalls that of fabric. Gaps in this repetitive pattern, cut out areas and layered up areas of paper reveal shadows and sometimes suggest humanoid features such as eyes, mouths, teeth and scars. The finished forms, usually floated on foamcore for further shadowing, evoke broken, ghostly apparitions or playfully conjured portraits.
Paul’s work is as much about meditation and exorcising personal thoughts and experiences as it is about the finished piece. The titles of his work reflect a developing personal mythos where real life happenings blend with imagined and spiritual tones, eg. “I was a teenage wet blanket”, “jealous jerk” (a self-portrait), “I stole from your medicine cabinet” and “I saw myself walk away.”
Paul’s inspirations range from automatic drawing and writing, Victorian-era spiritualism, raw art, cultural oddities and religious iconography through to the visual textures of wood and fabric. The conflicting forces of black and white, physical and spiritual, intertwine for a, hopefully, striking and cathartic result.
Michael Needham presents a playful plunge into the uncanny, deliberately delving into strangeness as a force holding attention by disturbing the ordinary.
His practice expands upon symbolic conventions around death, melancholia, loss, mourning and remembrance, all of which feed a corresponding examination into cultural machinations of memorialisation. For Conjurings, a new body of sculptural work, both cast and carved, will stage psychological unease laced with a quiet yet waggish humour taken from the likes of Tales from the Crypt, The Twilight Zone and other B-grade horror productions from the 80’s and 90’s. Such whimsical reference is played as a way to both compound and alleviate the work’s darker content, as well as displacing definitive endings.