"Your paintings are really cool" - Jim Woodring, author of Frank
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/conscious
/subconscious 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 characterized 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: or, as in synaesthesia, an object might be 'visualised' as a sound, for instance, or vice versa. 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 the view with which we are presented. 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
-‘meaning comes later as an embellishment on what one hopes is a spillage of visual spoils. The wager is that when I give rein to murky, less conscious impulses, they come laden with symbolic import, redolent with psychological and emotional freight. I attempt to avoid limiting, over-determined concepts and try and draw from that which is beyond the vagaries of external circumstance. Yet I also acknowledge that the imagination is a revolving door. I’ve long held to the view that art is a voyage of discovery, hopefully for both the viewer and the maker. However, I don’t disdain conscious intention and intervention. and no work of art worth its salt is done in an unconscious frenzy. Recent works (Homo Sacer, The Dispossessed) are in part a response to feelings of empathy with and moral outrage over the frequently horrific experience of being a refugee or precariat in a world largely hostile or indifferent to their plight, and by extension all humanity’s fragile and fraught sense of belonging, including my own. And this against the larger looming threat of climate change. But this more ‘engaged’ body of work still has to submit to the divagations and prevarications of my imagination. Ambiguity in art is a kind of enrichment transcending one-dimensionality, a generosity of possibilities, to allow viewers to make of it what they will. I make art in a spirit of serious play and a desire to convey something of authentic emotional and expressive import without conceptual foreclosure. They are also imaginings of a technology-free future, laced with melancholy and 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 catastrophe, sometimes explicitly or obliquely as I recoil from overstatement. Yet I hope we prevail in the end, that my paintings are more than personal signposts on the merry road to annihilation’.