Patrick Dagg | passages
passages is an exhibition about reflecting on time, maturation, grief and love. Looking inward over a period of great separation and isolation, this body of work laments the past, struggles to articulate the present, and hopes for the future.
Made from my home studio during lockdown, the works in passages carry the weight of separation, of the recent loss of family members overseas, and the abstract strangeness that the chasm of separation creates. Conversely, this weight is coupled with the everyday joys of family life with a young child and the gratitude of being safe and healthy in such an uncertain time.
This latest body of work continues my use of collage as a vehicle to explore image-making and to challenge accepted norms within the medium of painting. Having made my previous collection with crayon and paper, I was missing working with paint; in passages I have also used oil, acrylic and enamel. With these mediums I have enjoyed playing with viscosity and the contrast of marks made by thinning paint, or working with it thick and gluggy. Individual paintings are made up of a combination of different sized and coloured pieces of paper, as well as different sized scraps of canvas. This allowed images within the work to be scaled up and down, as well as allowing me to produce stacks of material that built up over time, awaiting migration to the canvas. As with my use of paint, these images fall out of their original context, joining and forming new ones upon the canvas. Often, they repeat and start to form a language – a blend of art and personal history.
By sampling from a variety of source material, the works in passages were able to explore the picture plane without being bound by its dimensions. Uncontrived, I can work on pieces separate from each other. I feel too much weight on me to just dip a brush in paint and start on a blank canvas, so with collage I am able to move between mediums and expected outcomes, capturing several points of view at once. It is instinctive work and I have found myself spontaneously returning to part of the body – mouths, hands, faces, eyes – their meaning changes over time, but this imagery has become a personal language. The neon feels like a full stop, marking the completion of a work – the final element. It gives the work a focal point that becomes an emblem.
The sculptures included in passages were created in a similarly instinctive way. Created before the paintings, shapes and forms were carved out of sheets of polystyrene, stuck together and often merging with offcuts before being shaped and set in resin. This resin is thickly layered, and often dripping, giving the original surfaces a new dimension. The Shou Sugi Ban, burnt wooden stands of the sculptures and neon tubing gives their forms further life.
Patrick Dagg was a finalist in the Footscray Art Prize 2019 and a finalist in the Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize in 2018. Through partnership with Flack Studios, he has exhibited as a part of the Rigg design prize in 2019 and The Art of Dining in 2019 at the National Gallery of Victoria. In 2014 he was awarded the Douglas Gordan Fellowship. Dagg’s work is held in private collections nationally and internationally.