Shred 091, Shredder (orange), Purblind Guru (pink) in Primed, New Painting in Tasmania
Haddon, N, Shred 091, Shredder (orange), Purblind Guru (pink) in Primed, New Painting in Tasmania, Academy Gallery, Academy of the Arts, School of Visual and Performing Arts, Launceston, pp. 3 (2010) [Representation of Original Art]
"The more that you try to erase me the more that I appear" sings Thom Yorke. Thatís not a bad way to start on Neil Haddonís paintings. He erases things. Usually itís a big black glossy panel, a pristine and austere black mirror that he sets to with a Makita sander. Occasionally you can see evidence of where the sander has powered its way through two or three layers of paint and primer to the aluminium substrate. But this once perfect enamel paint surface is left only partially abraded. The difference in lustre, between glistering enamel and its antithesis - matt flatness is striking or, conversely it is subtle, depending on where you stand in relation to the panel. The effect produced by the absence of sheen next to full gloss is such that we might be tempted to talk about the presence of two different colours. But this would not be right. It is still Dulux Jet Black, though some areas have lost their shimmer, their gleam. It is this absence of deep black that reveals the foundations of an image.
Onto this ground remnants of the original source image make their way. Often these fragmented pictures are taken from local newspapers that Haddon has read and might otherwise have discarded. Occasionally they come from screen shots taken off the local TV news. Sometimes they are snapshots that he has taken of his immediate urban surrounds. Seemingly inconsequential details are reinstated on the paintings but they are left incomplete. They have been recoloured or repeated, resized and transformed, and in so doing, their connection to their newsprint narratives has been broken.
The Westmoreland Gazette, The Croydon Advertiser, The Advocate, The MercuryÖ The names of these newspapers donít reveal a great deal; they were picked up in places that Haddon has visited. Or a place that he lives in. However, the fact that they are local papers is important. It is in the pictures of local dramas and small events that Haddon finds his starting point.
He begins with pictures that are free of the import of world events, that are slight and of interest only to relatively few. By absenting his paintings from their original narratives Haddon achieves a sort of open-ended melodrama. He takes what is really only an anecdote and sensationalises it.
Anecdotes are narratives told because they are in themselves interesting, just as these paintings, broken free from their anchoring meanings revel in their detached and singular nature. The irregular gloss panels reflect back oddly at a fast global-centric mass media asking us insistently and compellingly to slow down and resist the compulsion to know the full story.
Included in this exhibition are works on paper from Haddonís Counter Image series. These paintings, nominally of insects, lack any kind of taxonomy or nomenclature. The macroscopic, precise detail of amateur entomological photography has been replaced with an equally precise jewel-like painted indulgence of stains and spills.
Neil Haddonís work is held in private and public collections internationally and in Australia, including: The National Gallery of Victoria, The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Artbank, The Gold Coast Arts Centre, Devonport Regional Gallery and the University of Tasmania. His painting Purblind (Opiate) was the winning entry in the Glover Prize 2008. A video clip of Haddon at work can be seen online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QlwlcDLZNMo