10 June, 2007


I didn’t even know he was a skateboarder. I was just transfixed by the beauty of this image of this skater pirouetting in slow motion, with the huge drama of the sea; the seascape behind him this incredible storm at sea. All these were elements of luck; the storm and so forth. And then with the rain falling on the lens of the camera transforming what was a video piece it becomes almost a pointillist, almost an impressionist painting, as the blurring, still with this figure eternally circling almost like an angel or some celestial body ready to return to another void; to another planet; to another world.


Sydney artist Shaun Gladwell creates video works that draw attention to various forms of urban expression such as skateboarding, hip-hop, graffiti, BMX bike riding and break-dancing. Past-times like skateboarding are traditionally seen as modes of transport and leisure that defy and disrupt the linear street layouts of the city. Skating is thus a rebellious act and seen by city planners/developers/politicians as a nuisance, much like graffiti.

Critic and curator Simon Rees has said that, "in his practice Shaun Gladwell creates a series of reversals, none more impacting than the theoretical. In art discourse, culture is hierarchical and operates in a 'trickle-up' system where high-culture appropriates from low-culture. Discourse also privileges the critic/analyst over the artist/ethnographer. Gladwell flips this: he borrows from art (and discourse) to amplify his skating and performance.

"The slow-motion, framing and viewpoints of his work are composed in order to open performances to a range of readings that play within and against art historical genres and concepts such as romantic portraiture, landscape, religious allegory and the death reckoning of vanitas and memento mori."

Shaun Gladwell completed an Honours Degree at Sydney College of the Arts at the University of Sydney and postgraduate research with the College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales. He has conducted associate research at Goldsmiths College in London in 2001-2 and undertaken a residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris. He has exhibited widely throughout the past ten years with exhibitions in Europe and the United States. In 2004 Gladwell was selected as the NSW representative for the first Anne Landa Award at the Art Gallery of NSW.

Gladwell is a founding member of the Sydney based artist collective Imperial Slacks. In 2004 he received two commissions to develop video pieces for the Performance Space in Sydney and The Australian Centre For the Moving Image, Melbourne. Recently, Gladwell took part in I thought I knew but I was wrong, a group exhibition that is touring to Singapore, Seoul and Bangkok throughout 2004 and 2005.


slow connection | fast connection | requires flash 6 plugin

2004, Digital Video
30 sec


From balletic, virtuosic skateboarding to painting from literary and art historical sources, Shaun Gladwell’s art practice engages in “creative distortion resulting from the transmission of images and ideas between different cultural zones and historical periods”1. His work draws from personal experience through to wider discourses on power, history, contemporary culture and technology. In this solo exhibition, Gladwell extends his recent work with extreme sports in the gravity-defying “Tangara”, and particularly the urban practice of skateboarding in three major video works; “Linework”, “Kickflipper: fragments edit”, and “Storm Sequence”. The video works place emphasis on the city (Sydney) as a stage for choreographed performances and intervention, where strict rules increasingly determine the use of public space / transport / art / architecture. As a painter, Gladwell carries through themes of ownership and propriety in his “Anonymous Figures” series; elongated, faceless copies of Gainsborourgh portraits of 18th century aristocracy. The improbable sculptures that sit between his painting and video works are conjoined technological objects, together distorting information to remix a new kind of sound (“A Clear Day”), or suggesting other ways for time/space transcendence (“Enterprise”).




Shaun Gladwell's website http://www.shaungladwell.com/

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