Daniel Boyd

Daniel Boyd’s paintings, installations, moving image works and artist books are about a relationship to time and space. He is cognisant of the information they contain but a greater ambition is to demonstrate that the nature of perception is not absolute. While on occasion Boyd’s subject matter reappraises the documentation of Indigenous peoples and events, his focus is also on the active realm the viewer occupies; “how I experience a moment in time will be different to how you experience it. This allows me to work within different contexts and with different ideas freely,” he said. Boyd’s compelling aesthetic is multipurpose, beautiful and a conceptual tool to consider the unconscious, memory and also amnesia. He describes building an image as an intuitive process, “mostly… you need to understand your relationship to the image first. What is the dialogue you’re presenting? And in what context the image will engage people. The process is relative to the work and it varies quite a lot.”

Daniel Boyd, Untitled (GB), 2013, oil and archival glue on linen, 183 x 137.5cm. Collection of Karel and Ivan Wheen. Photograph: Jessica Maurer. Courtesy the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney and Cairns Art Gallery, Queensland

Boyd’s current exhibitions include ‘Floating Forest’ at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney in which the artist refers to the breadfruit from Tahiti, ‘Hello Darkness’ during Dark Mofo, Hobart and ‘Defying Empire’ at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA), Canberra, where Untitled (DOC) (2016) our cover image this month re-imagines Captain Cook’s death, years after ‘discovering’ Australia, inspired by Johann Zoffany’s oil painting (1779). When asked about the theme of the NGA’s third triennial Boyd stated, “Power corrupts and governments or empires seeking to oppress other humans to control stolen land and the inherited economic benefits need to be defied.” He is also showing ‘Bitter Sweet’ at Cairns Art Gallery, Queensland, tracing the hidden history of slavery in Far North Queensland that resulted in 60,000 South Sea Islander people being taken to work in sugarcane plantations from the mid-1800s and early 1900s. Boyd’s great-grandfather was one of many who were removed from their homes and forced to work for little pay and in harsh conditions, he was then sent away with the advent of the White Australia Policy.

Daniel Boyd, Untitled (BNH), 2013, oil and archival glue on canvas, 122 x 168cm. National Gallery of Australia Collection 2013.3985 Purchased 2013. Photographed by Jessica Maurer. Courtesy Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

With life in constant motion it is inevitable that our experience of Boyd’s work will be unique. He added, “As viewers, we all have difference in perception. I’ve tried to create a surface that metaphorically through materiality engages the viewer in this. Usually what happens when someone looks at the work they see black between the dots and say there’s nothing there. It’s an oxymoron. They’re automatically acknowledging that there’s something there while also acknowledging something isn’t.” The artist believes his images have a right to be understood through rhizomatic thought. As a consequence, the materiality of his work is a surface of multiple clear lenses within a black field with each mark speaking to the other, akin to “particle physics and our relationship to the edge of the universe and everything in it”, said the artist.

Daniel Boyd, Untitled (P13), 2013, oil and archival glue on linen, 214 x 300cm. Collection of Gwen and Stewart Wallis AO, Bowral Photographed by Jessica Maurer. Courtesy the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery

Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery
Until 22 July, 2017

Cairns Art Gallery
Until 10 September, 2017

National Gallery of Australia
Until 10 September, 2017
Australian Capital Territory