Artereal Gallery is excited to present an important body of new works by renowned Australian artist Lionel Bawden. The exhibition marks a return to the works for which Bawden is known, loved and acclaimed – his signature sculptural works made from myriad undulations of hexagonal coloured pencils fused together and carved for cryptic amorphous objects that transport the everyday source material beyond the known and commonplace.
(To view and purchase artworks from this series, including pricing details,
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Bound to the Body of Prometheus
In punishment for stealing fire from the Gods and giving it to mankind, Zeus bound Prometheus with an iron chain to ‘Caucasus’ a mountain in Scythia for thirty thousand years. Later Zeus sent an eagle, daily, to eat from Prometheus’ liver. Bound one to another. Prometheus’ liver- once eaten by the eagle, regrew each night ready for it’s consumption the following day, perpetually.
I have long been fascinated with Prometheus, specifically the Prometheus described in Andre Gidé’s book ‘Prometheus misbound’ a book, which fell into my hand, as if by magic, two decades ago. ‘Prometheus misbound’ 1953, is a satire, yet philosophical and rich in teachings. The central message of Gidé’s text ‘That every man must love his eagle’ resonated as a reckoning I myself recognised. Over time Prometheus has become my true companion, a veil through whom to witness my own trials and amusements. A sense of the epic as a companion story to one’s own narrative can be productive in the possibilities for reflection.
Thirty thousand years. That’s one hell of a moment. Puts things in a different perspective. Yet greater than that vast experience of Prometheus, is the enduring experience of the mountain itself. Zeus bound Prometheus for a limited passing of millennia. The Mountain, however, has stood across all time, through drought and deluge, under the endlessly passing arc of sun and moon across the sky.
Likely, Mountain experienced Prometheus, as we think of the fleeting nature of cicada or we muse on the momentary novelty of an ant walking upon our extremities, almost tickling, if the mountain noticed him at all.
My first series of ‘Pencil forms’ was a field of river-stone forms each slowly eroded/ reformed by it’s passage downstream. This current, small series of sculptures are rocky outcrops in miniature, both Prometheus perched on the precipice, and the precipice itself. Each outcrop a testament to erosion of the larger self, amidst the reformation of the self anew. I return to this same endlessly looping reflection – substance reshaped through experience subject to the passage of time.
Working with pencil as sculptural material continually calls into question the relationship of interior realm to visible exterior, a wrestling match of powerful magnitude. The pencil as my key material is a kind of addiction/ my eagle or the material allegory for my eagle, I try and kick it and it just keeps coming back.
When looking at the eagle bound to Prometheus, fated to eat from his liver daily, the ritual transaction is of great consequence, the cruelty seemingly unyielding. The two protagonists share a similar scale and temporal context. When we shift our awareness to the vast temporal and physical scale of the mountain, Prometheus’ entire cursed narrative becomes fleeting.
My great themes, great loves and great demons keep dancing in me, perpetually. Though I myself am bound to them, under the eyes of the Mountain, they have the lightness of the wings of a cicada.
So I keep reflecting on the slow time of the mountain, as I invite my eagle to dine of my flesh. My body is diminished yet ever reforms. And I keep looking up at the full moon, as I did tonight, just prior to writing this- imagining Prometheus, looking up in unison for what must have seemed like forever.
Lionel Bawden, August 12, 2022
Lionel Bawden was born in Auburn, NSW in 1974 and currently lives and works in regional NSW. Bawden has a Masters of Fine Arts, Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney University (2015) and a Bachelor of Visual Arts with Honours (painting) from the Australian National University Institute of the Arts, Canberra School of Art, Canberra (1997).
Lionel Bawden’s practice has been critically acclaimed in many instances, with his work having won numerous significant art prizes including the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and an international residency via Omi International Arts Centre in Columbia County, New York State, USA.
Bawden has exhibited widely both within Australia and internationally. His work is held in major public and private collections including the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Newcastle Region Gallery, Newcastle, NSW, Artbank, and Macquarie Bank collection.
Click on the below images to enlarge.
Images taken by Chris Brown
instagram : @its.chrisbrown
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