Daniel Boyd - Why I Paint
Exploring the creative processes of tomorrow's artists today - as featured in Vitamin P3
The paintings of Daniel Boyd question what it means to be a history painter today. Painting from nineteenth and twentieth-century photographs, Boyd, an Aboriginal Australian artist of the Kudjlat and Gangalu peoples with Vanuatuan heritage, reframes the visual narratives of indigenous people in the Pacific, including those of his ancestors. Using a technique that borrows from Central Australian Aboriginal dot painting and Impressionist pointillism – as much as it does from the lexicons of printing and photography - Boyd implicates Australia’s aesthetic history in its post-colonialist past and present.
Using the abstract technique of dot painting as a means to a figurative end, Boyd paints portraits and landscapes in oils, watercolour or charcoal, before overlaying the painted surface with dots of archival glue. As if to emphasize that each painting is a record of loss, the image that remains outside of the glue is then painted – or ‘Black-ed’ – out, so that only the raised dots remain. For Boyd, the historical record is best re-told through the gaps left by its missing parts. Here, the Vitamin P3-featured painter tells us what interests, inspires and spurs him on.
Who are you? I descend from the oldest continuous culture on Earth, My mum thinks I was born around 13:10 on the 14th of August, 1982, in Cairns. The city is in the Australian state of Queensland on the tropical far north east coast. I descend from Kudjla, Gangalu, Kuku Yalandji, Jagara, Bundjalung, Kuku Djungan and a Slave from north Pentecost Island in Vanuatu (brought in the late 19th century to the plantations of far north Queensland). My aboriginal ancestors were from the Stolen Generations - forcibly removed by the Australian Government from their parents, separated and denied cultural inheritance with the assistance of numerous Christian denominations - and lived on an anglican church mission called Yarrabah, similar to the reservations of North America. I’m also a Giangurra beachdog.
What’s on your mind right now? Dinosaurs + Marina Ambromovic, astrology, astrophysics, gravitational waves, racism, Capitalism, Globalisation, climate change, the edge of the universe, cultural appropriation, generational trauma, negritude, oppression, poetics of relation, opacity and education.
How do you get this stuff out? It’s hard not to.
How does it fit together? The physical nature of the surface of my works is the language that relates my ideas to the edge of the universe. Each dot is a transparent lens, the work is about perception or place in time and space. Each dot holds information and together they create narrative. The black space between the information is about comprehension and acts as a metaphor for what binds information and matter.
What brought you to this point? Love, support and having the option to question.
Can you control it? Can Bruce Banner?
Have you ever destroyed one of your paintings? No.
What’s next for you, and what’s next for painting? I’m working on a book that references Aimé Césaire’s collection of poems called Lost Body that were illustrated by Pablo Picasso, I think that ideas relating to Negritude like blackness and understanding your environment are very present questions, like the anthropocene or social constructs. For me painting has beautiful lineage in my culture that we currently understand goes back 40,000 years, I’m excited to be a part of the next 40,000 years.
Vitamin P3 New Perspectives In Painting is the third in an ongoing series that began with Vitamin P in 2002 and Vitamin P2 in 2011. For each book, distinguished critics, curators, museum directors and other contemporary art experts are invited to nominate artists who have made significant and innovative contributions to painting. The series in general, and Vitamin P3 in particular, is probably the best way to become an instant expert on tomorrrow's painting stars today.
Find out more about Vitamin P3 New Perspectives In Painting here. Check back for another Why I Paint interview with a Vitamin P3-featured artist tomorrow. Finally, be sure to check out more of Daniel's work at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.