August 2016 feature artist David Carroll

For the month of August, the artist of the month at Nimbin Artists Gallery is a guest artist – David Carroll from McLean on the North Coast. We are showing a selection of works from the exhibition he held recently in the historic town of Cowper. To introduce Dave, we have some extracts taken from the review of the exhibition written by the multi-disciplinary Northern Rivers artist, Scott Harrower.

A self described landscape painter, Carroll breaks from tradition to present an exhibition that “addresses memory in abstract painting, in relation to affectivity.” The works’ titles, such as ‘Con¬fronting the Inevitable’, ‘Broken Promises’ and ‘Punishment and Play’ suggest to the viewer the latent musings of Carroll’s mind. By observing the artist’s colourful, complex and seemingly benign compositions I get an inkling of the hidden depths of the works. He informs me that ‘muscle-memory’ is a significant aspect of his arts practice: “This suggests that even in the process of painting, the repetitive actions of the body and mind will establish an intrinsic personal signature, informing what I depict, and shaping my own, and the viewers, interpretations.” As I dwell on the works I become aware that they can be viewed as an unravelling of long held memories that contain the formation of a boy’s but also of a man’s identity.

Raised in a strict household by a returned POW father, Carroll holds the significant events (within his paintings) close to his chest, feeling that it is better for the viewer to superimpose their own meanings within his contextualised memories. However, his works present a tableau of contradictions; that of a state of stillness marred by the incomplete, as though none of our recollections are ever fully resolved, but rather, a realisation that memory is forever evolving; encoded in plasticity; changing over time. It is apparent that the artist’s pondering for meaning has brought clarity with age: “I have come to regard memory – like my processes of abstract painting – as never fixed, always in flux and infused by the multitude of present moments of recollection.”

Carroll’s initial text, ‘C_o_n_f_r_o_n_t_i_ng _t_he _I_n_e_v_i_t_a_b_l_e’ establishes the set of revisitations, laid bare with a raw consciousness; a teenager braces for the impact of his father’s death; an abstract, void of definition except for the darkness that surrounds the war-torn figure awaiting his ascension to another plane. A Youth just home from the Club stands at the front gate, drawing on one last cig¬arette to steel himself for the impending doom; the hesitation of re-entering a house of rules and regulations; a punished innocence of a childhood lost; is he dead?

‘T_he _P_e_r_s_i_s_t_e_n_ce _of _E_au _de _C_o_l_o_g_ne’ _foretells the permanence of death and the attempts made to disguise the stench of the inevitable passing. Carroll suspects his audiences’ fear of morbidity in his work, however this belies the moments of insightful joy he couples with his melancholic sentiment. His colourful solemnity offers a calming strength to the brutal telling of difficult mem¬ories and the honest purpose of his “creative investigation into the way affective experiences are brought to bear upon personal memory”. And staring into the shattered vortex of ‘B_r_o_k_en _P_r_o_m_i_s_es’, Carroll’s emo¬tive teenage self facilitates the revisitation of grief, rage and disappointment; the feelings of being let down by a punishing father, which he displays for those who dare to feel into his work and allow themselves to be affected by strong personal memories of loss.

Carroll continues his dialogue his narrative with ‘R_e_l_u_c_t_a_nt _A_c_c_o_m_p_l_i_ce’,_ _informing me it was the last painting he completed. A darkened figure drifts in a sea of softly muted red; appear¬ing outcast from an entwined “nest”. He explains that as a boy growing up in rural Wales he and the other boys would play in the woods, while laundry flapped in the wind, on the clothes lines in the house-yards below. One day an older boy found a bird’s nest and threw its eggs against a tree. “That memory has stayed with me ever since.”

Call in to Nimbin Artists Gallery in August for a face to face encounter with David Carroll’s works. I think you will find it an affecting artistic experience. You will also be offered a copy of Scott Harrower’s complete review, from which these extracts were taken.

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