From February 3 to March 2, 2004 Gallery @49 presents the first solo show in New York by one of Australia's leading environmental artists, JOHN DAHLSEN. Curated by Stefania Carrozzini of D'Ars International, the exhibition includes a selection of over 20 assemblages and sculptures created exclusively from non-art elements such as found objects and junk. John Dahlsen is part of a new generation of contemporary artists who have with wit and imagination incorporated recycled materials into their artwork, aesthetically addressing current environmental issues.
The title of the show, "Renewed" gives away what the viewer comes to see - the transformation of thousands of pieces of trash into abstract wall assemblages, sculptures, suspended installations and photographs.
Drawing on a vocabulary of forms and colors provided by such humble materials as plastics, Styrofoam, nylon rope, thongs, rubber and plastic bags, Dahlsen creates newness and value from what were once worthless ordinary things.
Based in Byron Bay, Australia, John Dahlsen collects much of his raw material from the Eastern seaboard near his home. Although he started out as a figurative painter, he began working in the found object medium in 1997 when he accidentally stumbled upon a vast amount of plastic ocean debris. The colors, patterns and shapes of these objects had an immediate effect. As he recalls, "I had never seen such hues and forms before. Since then, I have scoured Australian beaches for found objects which I bring back to my studio to sift, sort, and color-code. As I work with them in my studio I become even more fascinated by the way they have been modified and weathered by the ocean and nature's elements. My challenge as an artist is to take these objects, which might on first meeting have no apparent dialogue, and to work with them until they speak and tell their story."
Dahlsen's assemblages are as much about their materials as anything else and each transformed object is a
carrier of memory, containing a vestige of its "first life". This layered richness and narrative aspects of old objects offer not only a record of time, but a visual and tactile link to it. The result is often a visual pun over an unexpected connection or transformation and a thong or old plastic bag acquires a metaphorical or ironical quality and becomes emblematic of human history and experience.
There is indeed a heroic value in the sense of rescue that accompanies John Dahlsen's work of recycled art. Implicitly or explicitly, all his assemblages are about environmentalism, and talk about the new exciting adventure of using the wealth of solid waste produced by our 'throw-away' societies into the world of art.
John Dahlsen studied art in Melbourne at the Victorian College of the Arts. For the past twenty-five years he had extensively exhibited throughout Australia and internationally, his work being awarded numerous prizes, such as the prestigious "Wynne Prize" at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and more recently at the 2003 Florence Biennial. Regarded as Australia's leading environmental artist, Dahlsen has lectured at many Australian universities and has been an invited speaker at architectural and environmental symposiums both in Australia and abroad. In 2000 he has been appointed "Official Artist of the New Millennium" for the environmental organizations "Clean up Australia" and "Clean up the World". John Dahlsen's work is represented in major public and corporate collections across Australia, Europe and Japan.
John Dahlsen is a Premiere Portfolio Artist at absolutearts.com. View more of his works at: www.absolutearts.com/portfolios/j/johndahlsen/.