David Noonan's atmospheric exhibition, Before and Now, at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery consists of a series of bleach paintings and gouaches on canvas or paper as well as a large curtain/wall hanging, an owl sculpture and a hanging light sculpture. Linking these seemingly disparate objects is an aesthetic of nostalgia that comes from tropes of 1970s design that Noonan incorporates in many ways throughout the exhibition.
Exhibition Dates: 11 September – 11 October 2003
David Noonan's atmospheric exhibition, Before and Now, at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery consists of a series of bleach paintings and gouaches on canvas or paper as well as a large curtain/wall hanging, an owl sculpture and a hanging light sculpture. Linking these seemingly disparate objects is an aesthetic of nostalgia that comes from tropes of 1970s design that Noonan incorporates in many ways throughout the exhibition. The imagery that appears is somewhat peculiar. In making the gouaches, Noonan gathered visual material from the 1970s and selected images that interested him due to their strong personal resonance. For each work, he took a number of unrelated pictorial elements (often a figure, an interior and an inanimate object) and assembled them into a spatially-convincing collage. This composition was then transposed by hand into its final form, giving each highly artificial and consciously composed image a sense of naturalness.
In this exhibition, Noonan continues his fascination with owls as a potent symbol whose meaning is different for every culture but which generally has connotations of the occult. His representations of them come from many sources. The white plastic owl sculpture that occupies the centre of the room combines two representations of owls from different countries, different centuries, different materials and very different creative processes. The larger, more rustic figure comes from a wooden, roughly hand-carved Burmese original, many centuries old while the smaller, more refined object that the large figure supports comes from a 19th-century English porcelain original. Noonan puts these two nominally similar but culturally antithetical phenomena together and casts them as a single form.
Textiles and hand-crafted textures feature prominently in the exhibition: macrame, knitting, decorative fabrics and representations of roughly-hewn wood. The human figures that appear are children, adolescents or 'actors' with overtly theatrical make-up and costumes. As with his film works that pay homage to 1970s film aesthetics, in this exhibition, Noonan indulges his nostalgia for the 1970s and the aesthetic of his childhood, as it is encapsulated in the style of interiors, objects and clothing from that time.
While he often works with painting, photography, sculpture and installation, David Noonan is perhaps best known for his films which he often produces in collaboration with Simon Trevaks. Earlier this year, his most recent film work Sowa was exhibited at Artspace in Woolloomooloo at at Foxy Productions in New York. He was selected for the 2001 Istanbul Biennale. His 2001 film, The Likening, featured in the Australian video program, Screenlife, organized by 200 Gertrude Street, Melbourne and the Reina Sofia in Madrid to coincide with the Australian program at the international contemporary art fair, ARCO, in Spain in 2002. Screenlife also toured to New Zealand. In 2001/2002, Noonan spent twelve months in New York on a PS1 residency program. Since then, he has exhibited in a number of solo and group shows in Manhattan. In 1999, he was selected for the Primavera exhibition of young art at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. His work is held by the National Gallery of Victoria and Monash University as well as numerous private collections both in Australia and overseas.