With his latest body of work, Paul Sloan develops ideas he began exploring during a 2014 residency in Helsinki.
Isolated on the island of Suomenlinna, Sloan started making collages in the snow using the material around him — art and design magazines, heavy metal magazines and newspapers.
“These magazines were dictating the pictorial concept of the overall images themselves due to the source of materials,” Sloan says. “Subconsciously, I was finding myself attracted to particular elements. When you look at things in a long lineage you constantly are attracted to the same things and it becomes a long bow rather than a short objective idea.”
Sloan first exhibited these collages in the exhibition Interior Motives at CACSA in 2015. The new works are similar except they use a different printing technique — UV printing. The result is crisp clear images with very high resolution, to the point where when Sloan was stretching the images, he was trying to iron out the crinkles. Then he realised they were in the original paper.
Sloan doesn’t shy away from technology, he has created 3D sculptures in the past, and so the development in these collage works to adopt the new printing technique is not surprising.
“I’m curious so when it comes to new ways to make something I’m into it, as long as it serves the purpose,” he says. “I allow the ideas to determine the material and technology.”
Paul Sloan, Untitled, 2017, archival UV print on canvas, 150 x 100 cm
Sloan isn’t interested in dictating to audiences what they should be experiencing while looking at his works but would rather leave it up to the individual to interpret. “Depending on what you bring to the work, that will influence what you take away from the work,” he says.
Coined by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, the term ‘collage’ describes a medium that is often used to present political and social issues in a tongue-in-cheek or light-hearted way. Sloan uses images torn from newspapers of the Venezuela riots alongside a paper bag from Cibo and a slice of a Dutch interior from a design magazine.
“I am influenced by history, by researching particular points of political flux,” he says. “That’s one of the overarching themes along with exploring what is space and looking at a sense of privilege”.
The collages are a montage of images deliberately torn from magazines and newspapers and presented with sticky tape clearly evident. “I am ripping images from the magazine. I’m not using Photoshop or neatly cutting out the images, there isn’t a process, the process is of abandon. The selection and how the images are used comes down to composition.”
Paul Sloan, If it keeps on raining the levee is gonna break, 2010-17, archival UV print on canvas, 150 x 100 cm
The images need to be viewed together in the gallery to appreciate their full impact, and the compositional connections between them. The works operate on multiple levels with hints of colour evident across different works as well as similar shapes in a number of works. Some works are more obviously connected with images of sticky tape.
Sloane has subconsciously named two bodies of work after the great 1927 Mississippi floods — Black Water Blues in 2010 and his latest, If it keeps on raining the levee’s gonna break. The latter’s title comes from a blues song by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie which was later covered by Led Zeppelin. Sloan has an extensive record collection and a keen interest in a broad range of music and it has clearly influenced his work. Images of Led Zeppelin band members, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page, appear in one of the collages along with images of records from his collection.
Sloan is a curious person and this is obvious through his broad artistic practice. It’s this curiosity and his open and optimistic personality that drives his work, as well as the influence of music and the environment and architecture around him.
Paul Sloan: If it keeps on raining the levee’s gonna break
Hugo Michell Gallery
Thursday, September 14 to Saturday, October 21
Header image: Studio view of Paul Sloan, Galatic impact, 2017 archival UV print on canvas, 150 x 200 cm