Lives and works in Adelaide, South Australia
Paul Hoban was born in Cowra, New South Wales in 1954. He completed a Diploma in Fine Art (Painting), SA School of Art, University of South Australia (1976); Master of Visual Arts, SA School of Art, University of South Australia (1993); Post Experience Program, Royal College of Art, London (2000); PhD Visual Arts candidate, SA School of Art, University of South Australia (2006). Exhibitions include CACSA Contemporary 2010: The New New, Adelaide (2010); The Green Candle, collaborative exhibition with John Barbour, SA School of Art Gallery, Adelaide (2008); Chemistry, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (2000).
Collections include the University of South Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia and Artbank. Formerly Studio Specialisation, Head of Painting and Drawing, SA School of Art, University of South Australia.
“...Between ‘mind’ as autonomous, and ‘culture’ as collective. Between process, method, and product as the record of process and the evidence of method. Picture the works as a play between trance dance and open-ended, ‘high-art’ speculation. The whole project a complex of binary oppositions - non-binding - with each term unattached, perhaps even expedient. The whole a web of branching stems: tuberous, pulsing, rhizomatic, symptomatic. A cluster of energy sources brought to earth and grounded, immured now in physical matter; feeding like yeast...“
(excerpt from Index P. by John Barbour, 2001)
PROJECT NOTES -
Certain forms seem to be universal – persistent across time and cultures. These ‘form constants’ – lines, dots, grids, concentric forms, spirals, circles, tectiforms and linear parallels – seem to be entoptic, that is to say, they appear to be a product of human neurological faculties. Repetition and symmetry also appear to interest our visual perception machinery.
Curiously, the asymmetrical meander is also a form constant - recurring conspicuously in humanity’s earliest visual art. Lattice structures, often procured from meander forms via aleatoric processes, have inhabited my work over the years. Verging on chaos, but harbouring hidden symmetries, their web-like veils can be seen in all these works, including the collaborations with Tutti artist Scott Pyle, such as Lifesaver and Pink Herring.
By 2010, Tutti Visual Artists were emerging in a big way in Adelaide. As Tutti fans, Kirsty and I saw Scott’s work at numerous shows. Scott’s favourite imagery was inspired by Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (PR) heroes and villains. His familiarity with the PR characters had evolved into an ability to draw them with gouache pen in seconds – like a graffiti tag. Seeing his dazzling, multi-figure compositions for the first time was a revelation. Scott had achieved intuitively what I had sought by formal and conceptual contrivance. Collaboration is an important part of my visual art practice, so when an opportunity with Scott arose, I jumped at it. The result was the ‘Orange Wrappers’ exhibition at FELTspace Gallery in 2013. OW derives from the anagram of “Power Rangers” and is a going concern.
Scott has a wonderful feel for colour and composition. His colour sensibility became the palette for the collaboration. I tried to engage with the background shapes so as to ensure the integrity of Scott’s own imagery. Later, layering became important. Again lattice shapes emerged. All the linear structures which are attributable to me in the collaborative works have been derived from the background negative spaces and colours of Scott’s paintings.
ARTIST STATEMENT -
Contradiction and Form are fundamental concerns in this work. In relation to contradiction, the paintskin as a strategy remains essential. The painting is initially constructed on a flexible plastic sheet. The image develops by accretions, overlays and superimpositions. Eventually, the film of paint is peeled off and overturned – it may then be mounted onto a canvas support. The technique reverses the traditional painting process by evading predetermined outcomes. I like to read this as metaphorical. If traditional painting is covering up, then the paintskin is an uncovering of what was concealed.
In relation to Form, my work stages a critical dialogue between the absolutism of late modernist formalism and Entoptic Geometry, or Form Constants. Rather than an ideological philosophy, I see fundamental form as universal – outside of culturally specific intentions. Entoptic shapes have a neurological source. In a nutshell, the human visual cortex likes them because they reflect its own structure and mechanics. I propose therefore that fundamental forms are potential access points in intercultural dialogue – they permeate visual art across all times and all cultures.
In these works, lattices, parallels and circles are the primary vehicles. The circles have become holes large enough for a hand to pass through - portals through the paintskin membrane. To me the holes seem to suggest another place glimpsed beyond the veneer of this world and this time. I am sure that this would be an idea familiar to the first artists decorating their own skins or conjuring beasts through cracks in cave walls. Thirty thousand years ago, prehistoric artists were using their breath to propel pigments magically onto the walls to create their imagery. This also suggests an association with street art spray painting. I find a further connection in its stylistic roots, to my own childhood memories – in comic book art of the early 1960s. Those familiar with my past work might be surprised to notice the traces and palimpsests of speech bubbles and comic strip imagery fragmented and buried like primal memories in the painted surfaces.