Aaron Matheson lives and works in Rocky River, Uralla. He has been a finalist in the Mosman, Waverley and Waterhouse prizes, and awarded the Richard Ford travel award. He completed a year’s postgraduate diploma in drawing at the Royal Drawing School in London in 2007, and a Masters in Fine Art in 2017-18 at the National Art School, Sydney. He has completed a graduate diploma in counselling, is currently undertaking a course in art therapy and offers art therapy and counselling sessions.
‘My practice addresses our growing awareness of being embedded in a vast and unknown ecological system. Dogs, butterflies, insects and snakes act as ‘tutelary spirits’ or daemons in the paintings in an attempt to depict the deep interconnection humans have with all forms of life. Scientists are discovering that we have a symbiotic relationship with lifeforms in our environment: even our gut bacteria and those on our skin play an essential role.
The environmentalist Paul Kingsnorth points out that our idea of the natural world lacks a sense of the sacred: we don't see anything in it as being greater than ‘me’. Our feeling of kinship with the natural world is sometimes buried deep in our unconscious. ‘Tutelary spirits’ are beings we have an identification with, that goes beyond conscious concepts: comparable to the practice of having Totems in Indigenous cultures around the world. As a result, the paintings are made in relation to dreams and totems and I am happy for them to belong to that dream world.
I hope that my paintings reinvest the natural world with a sense of the mystery and wonder that accompanies understanding our place in the ecosphere. Beyond adjusting our habits while maintaining our lifestyle, we need to transform our ‘ecology’ of mind: where we participate in life as a web of connection and reciprocity. The shifting light of iridescent materials reflects the reciprocity: From different angles and with variations in light throughout the day, the viewer sees a different painting.
When painting, I like to purposefully foster instability and ‘not knowing’ by utilising unconventional materials such as wax and iridescent paint and by working from memory. The negotiation between depiction and depicted (always on the edge of failure!) is the subject of painting itself. As Enrique Martinez Celaya says, the tension between the means (the paint) and ends (the image, the subject) in painting “invokes a gap between our consciousness and the world and invites longing to span across it.”
I really hope you enjoy the show.’