Art Galleries Schubert  






Wayde Owen


Fur, Flesh, Feather


17th August 2007   6:00pm -  8:00pm


 “The Art Institutional system is the stage and I am the medium, adrift on a never-ending ride in the funfair of life. We are tumbling in what we perceive to be reality. For the most part we do not even know we are alive.”   Wayde Owen, 2007


Fur, Flesh, Feathers is Wayde Owen’s first solo exhibition since returning from extensive European travels and a residency at Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris, courtesy of a Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship which he won in 2005. He describes those months abroad as “over-caffeinated and way over-stimulated” but an experience which introduced him to a “deeper world” and a “hyper-sensitivity” as to who he was as an Australian and an individual. The current body of work gives context to some of those realizations.


Born and raised in Sydney’s western suburbs, Wayde Owen is a relentlessly determined and complex young artist who emphasizes that he can’t paint pretty pictures designed simply to make people feel good. He has found that form doesn’t necessarily validate content and that his honesty isn’t usually beautiful: “What I want to do is squeeze myself into (or out of) the works. The paintings are an attempt to bring me closer to ‘my inner paddock’, my identity... a childhood shaped through trauma, the understanding of which is likely to change.”


Having relocated to the Gold Coast a number of years ago, Owen’s life has found affirmation in the processes of art-making. His instinctive, uncensored way of applying paint belies an innate understanding of the formal considerations. Although admitting to a mindful search for the aesthetic, Owen sees his art as more psychological research than artistic proposal: “The work is not about rationalization but transportation. The materials I use are as important to me as the themes I seek to express. I am interested in the difference between my intention and what the materials have done with it.” His is a system of building up and breaking down of the picture-plane, each brushstroke and line seeming to contradict the one before it. Owen explains: “For me this aspect is about vulnerability - losing control, struggling and trusting in the process and materiality of the work.”


It has long been considered that the function of an artist - whether consciously or otherwise - is to give voice to the spirit and cultural values of his or her times. Wayde Owen’s practice exemplifies such a credo. While acknowledging that creating art is a cathartic experience he believes that the outcome should also have a social function: “I want to make people reflect, to stir up their critical sense.” To this end, Fur, Flesh, Feathers is fraught with uncompromising symbolism. Powerful ‘staffy’ dogs and exotic-looking hybrid creatures; real, stuffed birds; paint-splattered skulls and feather-filled, perspex containers are at once confronting and compelling. 


“I seek the energy embodied in the things around me and often picture myself in their guise, placing myself at the border where I am neither human nor animal but acting between the two.”


The totem-like imagery resonates with personal and generic implication: symbolizing rebellion and indomitability, the Staffordshire bull-terrier is an iconic emblem in suburban western Sydney - Owen once bred the animal. Conversely, the birds represent that which is fragile, defenceless and vulnerable. They reference the artist’s fondest childhood memories, and times spent in the backyard amidst his father’s aviaries of Indian Ringnecks. In the tradition of 15th century Vanitas paintings, the depiction of the human skull transcends all such notions of duality: gain and loss; joy and pain. It serves to remind that life is in a continual state of flux - fleeting, and to be fully embraced. 

Jacqueline Houghton

















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