The University Art Gallery at UCSD is delighted to announce its first solo exhibition since its relaunch earlier this year. Shaun Gladwell is one of Australia’s most prominent younger artists. The exhibition features a number of major works never before shown in the United States, including works from his latest ongoing series Maddest Maximus.
Gladwell’s practice critically engages personal experience as well as wider speculation upon art history and the dynamics of contemporary culture. This range of interest and sources is explored through a variety of mediums, but in recent years most particularly video installation. His recent projects in video have made discursive links between historical models and understanding of the body in space such as the flâneur and contemporary cultural figures such as the skateboarder, the motocross rider, the freestyle BMX rider, the graffiti artist and other physical and street performers. The work generally deals with performative figures in space, disrupting the social and architectural programming of urban spaces in particular. As this ongoing investigation of spatial articulation has deepened and gathered momentum it has begun to more closely inform and be reflected in the installation structures of the work itself, with an increased experimentation with multi-channel formats and architectural features as projection surfaces.
Gladwell’s work also experiments with certain traditional or established representational genres and concepts. For example, the genre of the romantic landscape and its association with traditional concepts such as the sublime is handed over to – or co-opted by – contemporary practices such as skateboarding or break dancing. However, his practice does not attempt to either simply update or recuperate traditional models. On the contrary, the traditional model and current cultural practice cross-infect each other, nor is the continued use of ‘street’ or ‘subcultural’ activity directly claimed within the category of ‘art’. Rather, the popular projections of such cultural activity are both destabilized and transformed. The fast and furious MTV jump-cut editing of these popular representations are resisted through the use of slow motion and ambient soundscapes. The results are poetic, hypnotic and meditative representations that open the represented activities themselves to a wide range of readings not immediately associated with either their sources or my apparent subject matter.
Shaun Gladwell was born in 1972, Sydney, Australia. His work has been exhibited in major national and international exhibitions including: Yokohama 2005 Triennale of Contemporary Art; First We Take Museums, KIASMA, Finland; and Space Invaders, Museum Kunsthaus Baselland, Switzerland. He was represented in the 2006 Biennales in Busan (South Korea), Sao Paulo (Brazil), 2007 Venice Biennale, 2008 Sydney Biennale and Taipei Biennial.
In 2009 he will represent Australia in the Venice Biennale with a solo exhibition in the Australian pavilion.