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The Substance of Shadows

Exhibition details

Opening / Event Date:
4 June, 2015
Time:
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Closing / End Date:
3 July, 2015
Event Category:

“The poetry of shadows can be mysterious, which is why we may be either unnerved or attracted to them. Shadows are often an overlooked absence, but their transient forms underline the reality of things and can illuminate truths about life’s myriad forces.’’– Jonathan Thomson

Working with multiple mediums, metal stencil maquettes, etchings and paintings, Australian artist Jonathan Thomson explores his endless fascination with shadows and light in his debut exhibition at the Karin Weber Gallery. Notions of contemporary beauty are expressed both through revelation and concealment. His artworks are based on a close observation of the shadows that are cast by a body of a figure on itself. They are not silhouettes or digital graphic expressions that simply highlight areas of high contrast, but skilful, abstract representations of the patterns of shadows cast by our own bodies. The nude is a primary motif in all his work, as, in the artist’s opinion, it successfully captures both the sensuality and elusive nature of beauty, as well as the fragility of human existence.

Many of Thomson’s works are derived from shadows cast by famous classical and neo-classical sculptures, whilst others are based on contemporary models posing as art historical classics. The artist works by flattening the figure and reducing it to stylized contours based on the interplay of light and darkness. Abstractions within the works are intelligible as they correspond to the rules of optics; the shadows cast are a function of light source, body posture and shape. Their proportions are based on human physiology and are maintained irrespective of the scale of the work.

The importance of absence is a key concept, and a critical part of all of Jonathan’s creative endeavors. Just as silence is essential for sound, so too light needs shadows – absences which are all too frequently disregarded. By privileging these absences and focusing on that which isn’t there, we are invited to contemplate the infinite potential of everything else. Shadows are themselves abstract, insubstantial and ephemeral, but their presence adds truth to form, they give a body substance. While embodying darkness, they can be used to illuminate truths about society, human existence and beauty.

Says the artist, “These latest works are a part of my ongoing interest in pleasure, beauty and desire and how they can be best expressed through transience and elusive forms.  Shadows are key motif in vanitas painting along with flowers, skulls, smoke and butterflies.  All things must pass, but in our hearts and minds, that what we find beautiful is a possession for all eternity.”

About the Artists

truewears many hats – including that of artist, art historian, critic and an independent curator. As an artist, he has been working for more than 20 years. Powerfully struck by Leonardo da Vinci’s observation that “shadow is a more powerful agent than light, for it can impede and entirely deprive bodies of their light while light can never expel shadow from a body,” the artist embarked on his own lifelong analysis of the subject. He has used many mediums to express himself – neon and electroluminescent wire sculptures, shadow maquettes and stencils, etchings and paintings. His work is held in private and corporate collections in Australia, Hong Kong, USA, UK and France. Thomson has also held solo exhibitions in Hong Kong (2010, 2011), Bangkok (2011, 2012) and was selected as a prize winner at the Kobe Biennale in 2011.

He also has over 20 years of high-level experience in public arts administration in Australia and Hong Kong as Deputy Director (Strategic Development) and Head of Secretariat at the Australia Council for the Arts, as well as Deputy Secretary General of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. In addition he has held senior posts with the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and the Global University Alliance.

Venue

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