Current Issue #488

Adelaide artists Danny Fotopoulos and Joseph Häxan take shape

Joseph Häxan, Typhoon Approaches
Joseph Häxan, Typhoon Approaches

Exhibiting concurrently at GAGPROJECTS are two Adelaide-based emerging artists who are both concerned with organic forms in nature but who work in very different styles and media.

In his first ever exhibition, Danny Fotopoulos presents abstract sculptures alongside recent graduate Joseph Häxan’s photographs of the human form.

Fotopoulos’ biomorphic sculptural works echo organic forms found in nature and express the connection between nature and humanity. He includes large-scale plywood sculptures as well as small-scale bronze works. His work fuses traditional figure sculpture and modern abstract art, creating shapes to imitate the curves and contours of the human form in order to give the sculptures an organic, life-like quality.

“I have always enjoyed figurative sculpture but always liked creating abstract designs, so my practice is a combination of those two aspects of art,” says Fotopoulos.

He starts with a clay model of his desired form and then creates a 3D model of it. Using a computer program he breaks the model down into individual layers that are printed out and used as templates to cut out plywood. These plywood shapes are then restacked like steps to recreate the sculpture, which is then smoothed and carved out. This technique helps create forms that reflect the shapes and patterns found in nature.

Häxan’s photographs have a sculptural body element to them and pair well with Fotopoulos’ works. Although he doesn’t refer to his works as self-portraiture, Häxan uses himself as a model in his photographs, which depict scenes of debased human interaction and hysteria, lit by a sterile and punishing white light.

Danny Fotopoulos, Yineka
Danny Fotopoulos, Yineka

“When you look at the works with lots of people in them, I like to focus on having a lot of interesting interactions between the characters. I think that is way more interesting than looking at bodies in weird poses,” he explains. “The spaces in between the people are more important to the story telling or thematics of the works than the people themselves.”

The work on display is mostly from Häxan’s older series, Body Horror – named after a film genre of horror focusing on body transfigurations, such as the transformation from humans into werewolves. The exhibition also includes new works from the series the Rite of Spring.

“I have been working on the previous series, Body Horror, for over two years, so it’s like a closing ceremony for Body Horror and a welcoming for the next series,” explains Häxan.

The Rite of Spring makes reference to Igor Stravinsky’s orchestral composition of the same name, and its use in Walt Disney’s Fantasia, which depicts the processes of the young earth’s evolution and regeneration after catastrophic events.

While the past couple of series Häxan has worked on have had similar themes he distinguishes them through the techniques used to make them. For example, Body Horror was made with a speedlight camera flash which sits atop a camera. The Rite of Spring is a move away from this: Häxan has detached the flash so the light source is away from the camera itself.

Häxan says, “The light in the works plays a role – it’s embodying the audience itself. It’s important because the light is now detached from the camera so the camera isn’t the audience any more.”

Danny Fotopoulos: Organic Forms
Joseph Haxan: Rite of Spring
Until 24 November 2019

Jane Llewellyn

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