I like to wash
the dust of the world
in the droplets of dew.
Haiku from: The records of a weather-exposed skeleton, Matsuo Bashō, c. 1684.
Stephen Eastaugh states: “This is an exhibition of works created in far-flung places. All works relate to, and ponder, movement through diverse landscapes, spread across three continents.” The artist presents a “smorgasbord of topics ranging from mountains to moss, fireflies to stars, lost pilgrims and one wandering Japanese haiku master.
Eastaugh often refers to his unquenchable wanderlust. Over at least the past three decades, the artist has travelled to the four corners of the world; living and making work in remote or even largely inaccessible places. At each new destination, the unfamiliar new vistas that encircle him have inspired a range of highly original, idiosyncratic works, in which he utilises a range of (sometimes unorthodox) materials to great effect – including a deft combination of painting, ribbon, plastic thread and sewing - which positions him as one of the most unique, innovative Australian artists of his generation.
The works in the exhibition, whilst intimate in scale, are bursting with the human desire for connectivity with the wider world outside of our day to day experience. We are presented: signposts; roadways; the grids of maps; human figures that are joyfully erupting from the surfaces. And, everywhere, an exuberant colour palette reminiscent of the great French Symbolist Odilon Redon’s pastel drawings.
For some artists, such as Paul Gauguin or David Hockney, a distant or exotic location is a spur for some of their greatest works. For others, such as writers Jack Kerouac or Paul Theroux - the journey is as artistically inspiring as the destination. For Eastaugh, who is both an artist and an accomplished writer, it is a combination of these two areas which stimulates him. He understands the importance of sometimes getting lost. Eastaugh has written of the “signposts that may lure us to the road - and on the road, we observe and search. Sometimes, with luck, we even find what we are searching for. Without a doubt, we may even discover what that is … when we get there.”
All of the works in this exhibition were created in three studio residencies, which the artist undertook during 2017 – 2018:
NKD Nordisk Kunstnarsenter Dale /Nordic Artists’ Centre, Dale, Norway.
Rimbun Dahan Art residency, outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
La Consulta, Mendoza, Argentina.