b. 1964, Lincoln, England
Lives and works in Adelaide, South Australia.
Born in Lincoln, England, Daryl came to Australia and settled in Adelaide. He is Head of Painting at Adelaide Central School of Art, where he has taught painting since 2001, and is currently represented by the Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide South Australia.
Daryl studied a BA in Visual Arts at the University of South Australia 1983 - 1986. He was included in the 2nd Adelaide Biennial at the Art Gallery of South Australia in 1992. Daryl’s talent has been recognised by numerous awards, such as the EVA Award, Adelaide (1993), Kernewek Lowender Art Prize (1993), Winner Santos Whyalla Art Prize (1997), Winner City of Whyalla Art Prize , University of Adelaide – Vice Chancellor Portrait Commission [2003) and Parliament of South Australia – President of Legislative Council Portrait commission (2005).
Daryl’s work is collected by the Art Gallery of South Australia, the University of Adelaide and Legislative Council, Parliament of South Australia in addition to several corporate collections in Australia.
“Richly detailed and highly personal, exuding a sense of stillness, Daryl Austin’s realist paintings quietly, yet resoundingly articulate the world of the painter... Austin directs the viewer into the nucleus of the painter’s studio, selectively framing his pictures within a picture, as little is revealed and much concealed...”
(excerpt from “Daryl Austin” by Wendy Walker, 2004)
ARTIST STATEMENT -
Images of travellers and voyagers, recent arrivals, re-visioned and altered messages from actual and fictive pasts. I’ve sought a way of shifting and reshaping both material and form, solid form nibbled and whittled into and then re-formed so that figure and ground relationships remain pliable to abstract painterly rhythms or to my own changes of thought and mood.
Some images need to be painted and played with a deadpan bat. With “James and Susan”, I respected the makers original forms to the point I felt that they could be translated and investigated with paint but not necessarily altered in form. Other works led to alternate outcomes. The gift of an old photograph advertising a gymnasium in “A painting for Jasper” began with no further expectations than translation and yet as the image was being painted, a snatch of visual memory, a certain brushstroke, an evocation of a mood led the work into a completely different conceptual terrain. Old school beefcake and an elegy to Jasper Johns is unexpected but not without humour and yet remains a sincere, heartfelt tribute for both the artist who I had admired conceptually as a student and to an elderly friend who’d recently died.
It is, I hope, a way of painting which allows and incorporates the widest range of translation with differing degrees of realism and painterly abstractions co existing according to both the dictates of the subject at hand and my own thought processes while painting.
- Daryl Austin, 2018
PRESS RELEASE -
With its focus on immigration, dislocation and seeking asylum, Outward Bound could not be timelier. Sourced originally from amateur snapshots found in vintage photographic albums, Austin’s new paintings focus on travellers, and new arrivals. Though a turning point in a life, a long one-way sea journey is a strange mix of both boredom, and unbearable hope and anxiety. As portrayed here by our unknown émigré, the ship’s attendants, the stokers, cooks, cabin boys and ships staff, were important. Someone didn’t want to forget them, so they’ve been preserved for posterity.
Austin manages to preserve the instantaneousness of photography, while shifting it seamlessly into his own medium. In shifting the motif, he mostly reserves the scale and framing of the original photograph while keeping as well the humanity, decorum, the hesitancy, the sense of performing to the lens.
In a process requiring intense concentration, the ‘factures’ or ‘making strokes’ behind the figures, are broken by rhythmic shifts in tone, like waves, each spreading from the last. This ‘translation’ – the artist’s term for it - alters our reading of the figure, which begins to embed into the surface. In the shifting of tone from photograph to paint and creation of colour – from acid to muted, the scene seems to become dream-like; a fragmented memory defying time.
The depths behind the figures, and around the still life objects, are not flat, but roiling with other visual possibilities that photography can’t imagine. In letting the surface shift and play and stray this way, Austin creates an independent motif that wanders way beyond its source imagery, and begins to do something extraordinary. It preserves the photographic moment within a medium ruled by an entirely different dureé, (or sense of time). Here Austin evokes both the time of production, and the abstract and de-temporalized time of our gaze, while preserving the ‘punctum’ [to use Roland Barthes’s term] or emotional punch – of photography’s relation to death.
Dr Georgina Downey
Art Historian and Research Fellow
School of Humanities University of Adelaide
PROJECT NOTES -
The exhibition showcases a collection of recent creations by English artist Daryl Austin (b.1964). The paintings are characterized by ‘a collusive collision and fusion of painterly and photographic imagery,’ as described by the artist himself. In one of her essays, Wendy Walker showers praise on Austin’s realist paintings for their sharp details and personal appeal. By reconfiguring and recomposing the faces and shifting the backgrounds, the artist infuses his work with an element of fiction while simultaneously reanimating his historical photography imagery.
DARYL AUSTIN: FICTIONS BY WENDY WALKER, 2014 -
The element of surprise often plays an intriguing part in the work of Daryl Austin. Who can forget the extraordinary series of naked portraits of regulars from his local pub the Grace Emily in his 2008 exhibition at Greenaway Art Gallery. These slightly larger than life-sized, colour paintings were followed in 2009 by the tiny charcoal and pencil works on paper of Europa. The most recent strand of his practice – first unveiled in last year’s Fictions – involves, to use his words; ' a collusive collision and fusion of painterly and photographic imagery. These works question our faith in the veracity of both the painted portrait and photography. Faces are reconfigured and recomposed, backgrounds shift, landscapes and objects appear or fade away.’
In such a way, Austin not only reworks, but also reanimates his historical photographic imagery – a kind of repurposing – supplying the works with fictional locations. The paintings are full of skewed details and disconcertingly the subjects’ eyes (sometimes mismatched, like their clothing) confront the gaze of the viewer.
In an interesting twist, not anticipated by the artist (it was Austin's turn to be surprised), viewers have projected their own narratives onto the images, telling him their connection with the places or people supposedly depicted. Austin says that with the paintings 'I got the feeling I wanted; a strange and sad disquiet, a sweet creepiness.'
Wendy Walker, May 2014
ARTIST STATEMENT -
At some point over the preceding two years this body of work became in my mind’s eye, a collective group of individual portraits, placed together, communicating visually and silently amongst themselves and to a crowd of imagined viewers.
Initially, I’d been fascinated by the images of friends taken on a mobile phone, how awkward they were, caught mid speech, eyes half closed, able to seem both transitory and permanent, how like the early 19th century photographs of people they seemed. They were mostly caused by the delay on mobile phones between depressing the button and the actual photo being taken. We’d look; laugh and friends would protest and insist that I delete them, which I would do. Yet, they’d fascinated me.
The earliest paintings in this group of work still retain something of this quality, I’d ask someone to sit in front of a camera and talk to me while the camera took multiple frames at high speed. The early work “Blink (Daryl 1)” manifests an explicitly photorealist viewpoint. Sitters for the earliest works were quite uncomfortable with the finished paintings, too much camera based reality leads to a response not unlike the delete response.
I then asked the next group of sitters to sit quietly with their eyes closed whilst I took photographs, asking them to move their heads to the sound of my voice or I’d ask a number of sitters in the spring and summer months to sit with eyes closed and move their faces towards the sun. This produced a different result in the images concentrated, seemingly thoughtful or calmer, almost beatifi c, sometimes quite ambiguous. What was not happening, at least overtly, was the sort of social presentation that a more formalised portrait would carry (This is who I am, how I want to be presented.). The initial responses of people looking at this group of works, unable to feel the portraits explicit social engagement (I am looking at an image of someone who is not looking back) did express or project a sense of engagement with the sitters internal life, (That’s exactly how Johnnie looks when he’s thinking!) picking up minute changes of gesture or expression, a trait all people have a great ability to do, in fact, part of our brain is devoted to facial recognition.
I had also begun concentrating on a sense of animation and presence. Once the external social presentation of the portrait is reduced other qualities are heightened. My response was to amplify the sense of form, embedding greater structural indicators within the image, allowing brushwork to animate and move around the surface of the broad forms. This moves beyond the reality of photography (at least with my ability), allowing me to retain “likeness” yet move into (to my mind) something more solid, with its own presence. It is these qualities, anima, solidity, presence, more than likeness, which offers the way forward to a constructed portrait using multiple processes which evinces its own reality.
-Daryl Austin May 2012
ARTIST NOTES -
“Blink” featured a set of 15 portrait paintings installed in a 5 x 3 grid on a single wall. The original premise of this series derived from the accidental blinks invariably deleted from photographs. All portraits are shown with their eyes closed, communicating visually and silently among themselves and to an imagined crowd of viewers.
ARTIST NOTES 2009 -
Circa Europe was a small scale exhibition of charcoal and pencil drawings whose imagery was sourced from anonymous found photographs. Most contained an elusive narrative which spoke of the post war migrant experience, depicting places both remembered and newly arrived at.