David Noonan, Wayang, 2005, DVD from super 8, TRT 2:56 minutes.
An acclaimed painter, David Noonan is also one of Australia’s leading video, film and new media artists. Noonan’s recent work engages a breathtaking array of historical forms and cultural references, from the romantic sublime of centuries past, through exotic, ‘folk-modernist’ tendencies of 1970s bohemia and hippie culture, to the more ethereal and sinister sensibilities of gothic film and fiction. David Noonan is an Australian artist, whose work explores the inner workings of memory, connotation, and sentiment. His mixture of documents and textures resonate with a psychic force, producing fictional histories and imaginary landscapes that provoke, disquiet, and charm.
Born in Ballarat in the southern Australian state of Victoria in 1969, Noonan studied at university before completing a postgraduate course in Painting at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. He came to England and has been a permanent resident there since 2001.
David Noonan transforms black and white or sepia found imagery into striking collages and large-scale silk-screened tableaux on linen or films. He collects photographs, archival documents and magazines and books relating to utopian collectives in the 1960s and 70s, theatre and dance performances, or art education, and layers selected images with others of plants, animals and buildings, fusing histories where any sense of time and place is blurred or displaced. The multiple appropriations blend realism, mystery and myth.
Beginning each of his screen prints by making a collage, David Noonan brings together an eclectic array of found imagery – sourced from film stills, books, magazines, and archive photos, to create dramatic scenes that suggest surreal narratives. These collages are then photographed and turned into large-scale screen prints, a technique remarkable for its sumptuous finish that relates to both artistic authenticity and mass media. Printed in harsh contrast black and white, Noonan’s images encapsulate the romanticism of golden age cinema, and its associations to memory, fiction, and modern mythology. The fabrics he uses as the ground for the silk-screens are rough in texture and often patched or folded. Many contain printed patterns that are inspired by Japanese textiles. Noonan also produces paneled, figurative sculptures in which cut out silhouettes of performers act out grand gestures. Stylistically referencing Surrealism and experimental film, Noonan’s work poses as the aesthetic remnants of ‘lost masterpieces’, weaving his own extravagant fantasies into fabric of collective consciousness.