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Shaun Gladwell Returns to Sydney

One of Australia’s most significant contemporary artists, Shaun Gladwell (b.1972), returns to Sydney for a major exhibition spread across two galleries, presented by Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (SCAF) in association with UNSW Galleries.

Above: A Portrait of Nancy-Bird Walton, 2015. Single-channel HD video. 16:9, colour, silent. Commissioned by Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation


Shaun Gladwell is interested in artworks that you can be ‘inside’, where the viewer becomes totally immersed in an experience. His current exhibition demonstrates this perfectly.

Above: Shaun Gladwell The Lacrima Chair, 2015 (Installation view) Commissioned by Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation. Photo: silversalt photography


At SCAF, which features The Lacrima Chair, you enter through a wall of flowing mist (as seen in portrait above), after which you see an aeroplane chair in the centre of the room, inviting you to take a seat. When you do, you’ll watch a large video work under a shower. The Lacrima Chair is both metaphor and reality. And yes, you will get wet.

The installation references many things – his grandfather’s war story (watching a film in a tent under pouring rain); engages the poetics of flight, travel and cultural transmission, specifically French cultural influences within Australia and vice versa; and features his female hero Nancy-bird Walton.



Above: The Lacrima Chair, 2015 (Installation view) Commissioned by Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation. Photo: silversalt photography


Above: A Portrait of Kathryn Puie as Nancy-Bird Walton, 2015. C-type photograph commissioned by Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation


At UNSW Galleries, the sense of immersion is less direct, but equally absorbing. Here, over the gallery’s three main spaces, is Collection+: Shaun Gladwell (SCAF Project 25 – a project whereby SCAF chooses curators to take a work(s) from SCAF’s collection and flesh it out with other works by the chosen artist public and private collections worldwide).

Collection+: Shaun Gladwell was curated by Geneva-based Dr Barbara Polla and Paris-based Prof. Paul Ardenne, the selection of over 20 work focus on notions of the ‘double’, Gladwell’s interest in ornithology, wider thinking on flight, and problems with representing conflict (the exhibition includes the paintings Helmet apparition (Taliban hill-fighter), 2011-12 and Helmet apparition (major league infidel), 2011-12, resulting from his time in Afghanistan as one of Australia’s official war artists).

The exhibition provides real insight into the artist in mid-career.


Above: Pacific Undertow Sequence, 2010. Sic-channel HD video, 11:21 mins

Above: The Flying Dutchman in Blue, 2013. Six-channel video, looped, 16:9. colour, silent. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Anna Schwartz Gallery

Dr Gene Sherman, Executive Director of SCAF said The Foundation’s first project for 2015 would bring Shaun Gladwell – who represented Australia at the 53rd Venice Biennale – back to his roots to the spaces where he started his career in Sydney over 15 years ago.

‘In every sense, he is coming home – to UNSW Art & Design, previously COFA, where he completed his Master of Fine Arts; and to Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, where he was discovered and represented for 9 years by SCAF’s previous incarnation, Sherman Galleries (1986-2007)’, Dr Sherman said.


Above: UNSW Gallery space

Above: Helmut apparition (major league infidel). 2011-12 Oil on canvas, coloured acrylis 76.2 x 101.6cm


Similarly, Felicity Fenner, Director of UNSW Galleries, said: ‘This project is the first solo exhibition to be staged at the new UNSW galleries. In many senses, it is a homecoming that celebrates the multidisciplinary work of a significant contemporary international artist at the place where his remarkable career began – UNSW.’


Above: Shaun Gladwell Centred Pataphysical Suite, 2009 (Installation view) Six-channel HD video, 16:9, colour, silent. Edition 3/4. Collection: The Mordant Family, Sydney. Photo: silversalt photography


Enjoy this special exhibition between 6 March – 25 April 2015

Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation

UNSW Art and Design

Tess Ritchie

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