Neil Haddon's recent paintings draw on his experience as a migrant to Tasmania and the ways that migrants find their own poetic meaning in the unfamiliar contexts of a new home.
Haddon employs a collage-like approach to painting, using a variety of seemingly incongruous sources. Collage can be interpreted broadly as the combination of different things to make a new whole. In Haddon’s paintings collage can be understood as movement and relocation, fragmentation and recombination, slippage in meaning and innovative translation. In these works, meaning is in flux and is renegotiated according to the diverse cultural influences of where we come from and where we find ourselves now. The viewer is free to consider how meaning is made when the supporting contexts for that imagery are strange to us.
The paintings are made with a variety of materials and processes bringing together fragments of artworks by Gustave Doré, Paul Gauguín and John Glover in abstracted constructions to picture a state of flux where significance and association are perpetually renegotiated according to the influences of an old place and the new place.
Haddon tells an anecdote about how Gauguín’s Mata Mua (1892) was present at two significant moments of dislocation in his life, decades apart (once in Madrid and once in New York), and how that painting became a way marker of his own Gauguín-like search for exotic encounter.Mata Mua is itself a re-combination of elements rather than a representation of a real scene; it is more a picture of what Gauguín wanted to see instead of what he actually found. Scenes of the Epsom Derby from Doré’s illustrations for London: A Pilgrimage (1872) serve as a way of evoking Haddon’s birthplace, whilst illustrations from Paradise Lost (1866) function as a depiction of an idealised, fictional landscape. A stylised adaptation of a tree from Glover’s A corrobery of natives in Mills Plains (1832) is reiterated and repeated, flipped and mirrored across multiple paintings as a questionable icon of place. That all of these sources should come from the 19th Century suggests not only a historical distance but also a distance in emotive connection as the migrant returns to the place of origin only to find it unalterably changed.
‘anecdote / shift / mirror’ (both as noun and verb) describe a state or an action that apply to the processes of migratory aesthetics.
We bring our own fruit
2017, oil, enamel and digital print on aluminium panels (diptych), 180 cm x 240 cm
The land will heal itself
enamel, digital print and oil paint on aluminium panel, 150 cm x 122 cm
The First Time (hot dog)
2015, enamel and oil paint on aluminium panel, 180 cm x 150 cm
We'll bring our own signs
Acrylic paint and digital print on canvas, 137.5 x 122 cm
enamel, clear coat, oil and acrylic paint on aluminium, 170 cm x 150 cm
Keep your eyes on the money
acrylic and digital print on canvas, 137.5 x 122 cm
It's Difficult (this Tasmanian landscape)
2016, acrylic, enamel and oil paint on aluminium panels, 240 cm x 360 cm
We'll bring our own
acrylic and acrylic on canvas, 152 x 137.5 cm
Even our monuments will fall
2017, oil, enamel and digital print on aluminium panel, 130 cm x 120 cm
This is a selection of work from the past 15 years or so.
Some things change. Some stay the same.
abraded gloss enamel paint on aluminium panel, 2007, 180 cm x 160 cm,
Collection National Gallery of Victoria
Back Burn (the meeting)
2013, high gloss enamel paint on aluminium, 150 cm x 170 cm,
collection of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
Second Time (2)
2007, gloss enamel paint on aluminium
Portrait with paper chains
2011, partially abraded gloss enamel paint on aluminium panel, 170 cm x 150 cm, collection City of Whyalla
2011, enamel and oil paint on aluminium panel, 170 cm x 150 cm
2009, gloss enamel paint on aluminium panel
2010, enamel paint on aluminium panel, 160 cm x 150 cm, collection Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
Neil Haddon talks about Three Dogs
2009, enamel paint on aluminium panel, 90 cm x 75 cm
Criterion Gallery, 2004
Criterion Gallery, 2004
Desbordamiento 1 and 2
Plimsoll Gallery, Hobart: Disorientation, curated by Paul Zika, 2005
Neil Haddon interviewed on ABC Stateline
2008, high gloss enamel paint on aluminium panel, 170 cm x 150 cm, awarded the Glover Prize 2008
Back Burn (ashes)
2014, enamel paint and clear coat on aluminium panel 64 cm x 55 cm
2014, enamel, acrylic paint and clear coat on aluminium panel 68 cm x 58 cm