Darren Wardle wins 2013 Gold Coast Art Prize

2013 Judge Chris Saines has awarded Melbourne-based artist Darren Wardle winner of the 2013 Gold Coast Art Prize for his painting Head Case Study 7.

“I found Darren Wardle’s ‘Head Case Study 7’ completely convincing from the moment I saw it during shortlisting. Seeing it on the wall only reaffirms that impression. For me, it is a conceptually refined, beautifully resolved and emotionally compelling work – one that has its most obvious stylistic reference points in late 20th Century German painting but which is visually insistent on its own terms. It is the work I returned to time and again as I viewed the Prize, the work that in some ways got so deeply under my skin that I couldn’t and didn’t want to dislodge it. I think it’s a clear winner”, says Saines.

Winner Darren Wardle comments on his work:

The painting began with the idea of remaking and remodelling embodied in the post-operative plastic surgery portraits and the banality of celebrity culture which I was exposed to during an artist residency in California.

On another level, there is the implication of bodily, spiritual and civic ruin. Emblematic of 21st Century trauma, they also evoke the history of the grotesque in painting.

In terms of execution it has been my intention to position them between classical portrait painting and contemporary painting that mimics photographic or digital affect. I’m not aiming for conventional photorealism or the look of a digital print. Some are deliberately left in a state of “finished incompleteness”.

The title, ‘Head Case Study’, conflates the irrational with the logic of Modernist innovation encapsulated in the Case Study House program (1945 – 1964). With few exceptions, most of these houses were built in California. Aside from the title there are relationships between my works that feature architectural mishaps, brutal forms and dystopian environments.

Gold Coast City Gallery
Until 9 February, 2014

Darren Wardle, Head Case Study 7, 2013, oil, synthetic polymer paint on linen canvas
Courtesy of the artist and Nellie Castan Gallery, Melbourne