“You are the Mack the Knife of visual art” - Alfred Corn, poet, novelist and former art critic for “Art and America”
“In Selwyn Rodda’s paintings and drawings, the viewer wakes into the artist’s recurring dreamscape. It is a stark world of rocky, elemental barrenness, usually unpeopled but thinly scattered with apparently vacant factories or temples. Other structures seemingly are monuments, but in memory of what? In those landscapes, surreal visitors will unveil themselves as seemingly sentient smoke, fire, mist and molten colors. Some of these visitors seem human fractals, as though assuming semi-human form in their magical moments of melding. Are they melding into witnessing – melding into being witnesses? Sometimes, these witnesses seem lost, as though searching through an apparently abandoned world, as if to understand what mistakes could have occurred there. Some of Rodda’s paintings and charcoal drawings more overtly reflect our time’s humanly induced environmental crises, as in visions of floods rushing through buildings and streets, while sharks – like embodied consequences or the Furies reborn – fly through air in pursuit of naked, fugitive humans – images echoing Munch-like screams calling through visionary, Anthropocene dreams.”
– Daniel Corrie, poet, author of For the Future, Human and Words, World
“Your paintings are very cool” - Jim Woodring, graphic artist and author of “Frank”
"Painting impulsively and imaginatively, Rodda allows his mindscapes to appear directly from his imagination and subconsciousness onto the canvas, as a cathartic form of self-expression. The results are scenes populated with spherical and boulder-like amorphous shapes, that at times pulse and resonate and at others appear static, which inhabit a strange world that has become the artist’s immediately identifiable signature."
- India Bednall - Allens Art Journal: REALMS BEYOND REALITY OTHER THAN ORDINARY: SURREALISM, WHIMSY, AND ABSURDITY IN CONTEMPORARY AUSTRALIAN PAINTING, 2015
"The term 'hypnogogic' was coined in the 19th century by the French psychologist L.F. Maury. Broadly speaking, hypnogogic cognition is characterised by heightened suggestibility, illogic and a fluid association of ideas. Hypnogogia is one of the most fascinating altered states of consciousness we can experience without the use of drugs. It is usually experienced on the threshold between wakefulness and sleep, where an object might appear as one thing, while simultaneously being experienced as something else altogether. In Selwyn Rodda's lush paintings we are presented with a weird hypnogogic world, at once oddly familiar yet intensely alien. Biomorphic structures emerge from etiolated landscapes. Caught in mid-metamorphoses, these forms appear to be seething and pulsating within their fabulous skins. These are mind-forms, the product of an imagination given full-reign: objects redolent of the strange possibilities that this stream of consciousness approach has to offer. Rodda invites us to travel along what Jung called' the royal road to the unconscious'. It is a bitter-sweet journey.
Because none of the forms appear to have reached stasis, we are compelled to image what has immediately preceded, and what will immediately follow. Bathed in sickly-sweet, yet poisonous colours, these are crepuscular forms, which belong to a bizarre nether world. Neither wholly benign, nor totally malignant, they invite us to project our own meanings onto them: are they perhaps reminiscent of body parts, or wounds, or flora and/or fauna, or rock formations, or somehow impossibly all of these at once? These forms have called themselves into existence via the medium of the painter. Rodda has a wonderful understanding of paint and of colour. His fashioning of these forms is entirely at the service of their strange demands: whether crusty, slimy, wet or dry. They are probably as near as we can hope to get to a two-dimensional depiction of hypnogogic manifestations."
- "On the biomorphic paintings of Selwyn Rodda" - Steve Cox, Australian artist and academic
“In June in Moscow, I was sheltering from a downpour that came from nowhere in the intense heat, sharing the umbrella of the tree with robins and swallows, and strangely enough, a duck who came for shelter and had a good shake, and I somehow felt a flash of impending disaster... There was a moment of horror. Something (who knows what?) was about to happen.
I was inside a Selwyn Rodda painting.... It is as if he transmits the tensions in the Zeitgeist.
Do you know the drawings by Rudolf Steiner of the beasts of the unconscious that were admired by Joseph Beuys? Add a dash of Ernst Haekel's protozoas , and a touch of James Gleeson, and you have nothing like a Rodda painting! His images niggle at the edge of the mind. They convey a strong sense of a looming presence, not just of the numinous, but of a sort of connectedness, even though the pictures seem to push us in all directions. The paintings are bigger than themselves. They are all questions.
What is real? What is now? What are we? What are we metamorphosing /morphing into? What is time? In what realm are we? What can we be certain of? What are we searching for?
They express a psychological realm that is beyond present thought.”
- “The Strange Art of Selwyn Rodda”, David Wanbrough, artist and poet
A kind of loose artist’s statement:
"My work is an oblique, or at times direct, response to looming ecological collapse and the plight of a humans adrift in a largely hostile world, a world no longer our own (was it ever?), and by extension a meditation on all humanity’s fragile and fraught sense of belonging, certainly my own included. But this more ‘engaged’ aspect of my work must submit to the vagaries of my imagination, where explicit meaning acts as a kind of drag, an anchor forestalling adventure. Ambiguity in art is a kind of enrichment transcending the one-dimensional, a generosity of possibilities, allowing viewers to make of something what they will. It is also simply an acknowledgement that the manifest world, and the hidden, is manifold and polymorphic, slippery, in flux (source of hope and anxiety). And so I make art in a spirit of serious play, a conscious daydreaming (different entirely from automatism: I am not a Surrealist, despite superficial affinities) where a feeling of “rightness” directs proceedings, and a desire to convey something of authentic yet enigmatic expressive import. A felt response to subject matter, form and medium hopefully keep things open, the resulting image a snapshot of mid-metamorphosis, the imagination imagining. The wager is that giving rein to emergent, less conscious impulses, they might come laden with symbolic import, or gravid with psychological and emotional freight (which, in art, is precisely that which generates what most people mean by "meaning" - the difference between, say, Munch's "The Scream" and a lifeless, competent academic portrait). Yet I also acknowledge that the imagination is a revolving door, where fact and fancy, emotion and intellect, dovetail in mutual reinforcement. The works are also imaginings of a technology-free future (both desired and feared), laced with a melancholy brought on by a lack of ready-to-hand distractions yet spiced with the sweet anxiety of possibility, a promise of radical self-determination, a clean slate, or at least one not too broken to write (or draw) upon.
We want to feel at home on our tiny, insignificant planet, and yet this seems to entail trashing the very minute turf, in all the known Universe, that can sustain our kind of life. And so the days darken, yet on a good one I can see that most of my work is a testament to my grappling with the horrors of impending environmental catastrophe, sometimes explicitly, sometimes obliquely, as I recoil from overstatement, or in fear leaven gloom with light. Yet I hope we prevail in the end, or at least some life prevails beyond the end, and that my own paintings are more than personally cathartic signposts on the not so merry road to annihilation, but rather gestures towards possible futures where life, no matter how richly or strangely changed, is still possible"