India Bednall - Allens Art Journal: REALMS BEYOND REALITY OTHER THAN ORDINARY: SURREALISM, WHIMSY, AND ABSURDITY IN CONTEMPORARY AUSTRALIAN PAINTING, 2015
"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."
"On the biomorphic paintings of Selwyn Rodda" - Steve Cox
"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 suite of 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."
The artist as quoted in Allens Art Journal: REALMS BEYOND REALITY OTHER THAN ORDINARY: SURREALISM, WHIMSY, AND ABSURDITY IN CONTEMPORARY AUSTRALIAN PAINTING, 2015
- "my work is an oblique, or not, response to looming ecological trauma and collapse and the plight of a significant proportion of humanity adrift and disenfranchised in a largely hostile or indifferent world, and by extension all humanity’s fragile and fraught sense of belonging, my own included (in all the art that moves me, there is an emotional investment in the art's outcome, in each moment of its creation, in every single material manipulation, like a poem where every word is weighed and matters: the polar opposite of the manufactured, fabricated, impersonally processed look of a lot of contemporary art. In a less "cool" time, we called this "self-expression"). But this more ‘engaged’ aspect of my work must and does submit to the vagaries of my imagination, where explicit meaning is anathema. Ambiguity in art is a kind of enrichment transcending one-dimensionality, a generosity of possibilities, allowing viewers to make of it what they will. Also, it is simply an acknowledgement that the manifest world, and the hidden, is manifold and polymorphic. And so I make art in a spirit of serious play, a kind of "diurnal daydreaming", different entirely from automatism (I am not a Surrealist, despite superficial affinities), and a desire to convey something of authentic and expressive import without conceptual (fore)closure, free of the vagaries of contingency or the dictates of fashionable taste. Meaning comes later, or never. A felt response, to subject matter and form, keep things in a kind of flux, the image a snapshot of the metamorphic, though I play with different timescales. The wager is that when I give rein to murky, less conscious impulses, they come laden with symbolic import, redolent of psychological and emotional freight (which, in art, is precisely that which creates 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 melancholy yet spiced with the sweet anxiety of possibility.
Humans want to feel at home in the universe but it’s such a hostile, lethal place and we are trashing the very minute turf, in all the known Universe, that can sustain our kind of life. I can see clearly, on a good day, that most of my paintings are testaments to my grappling with the horrors of impending ecological collapse, sometimes explicitly, or obliquely, as I recoil from overstatement. Yet I hope we prevail in the end, and that my own paintings are more than personal signposts on the not so merry road to annihilation."
Selwyn Rodda is represented by ROOM, New York.