I bloody love an artist who can cut through the bullshit in an industry that is so predisposed to bullshit and present complex theories in a way that even a muppet like me can understand. I mean, I legitimately understood bugger all of the essay accompanying Christian Flynn’s new show, other than that it all somehow related to outer space (NB: I’m not throwing shade at writer Emily Poore here – she is one smart cookie & a very good writer. I’m just crap at ingesting anything even remotely academic). But standing in Heiser Gallery, Brisbane, taking in his new suite of works…I kinda felt like I finally understood the fascination with the cosmos and lunar probing.
The Bauhaus dictum opined that everything in nature could be described by a cone, sphere or cylinder, and when rendered in two dimensions, a triangle, circle or square. Now…I don’t know where that leaves the poor old nonagon, but I am always in awe of those artists who can reduce reality to its purest, most basic structure. To be able to look at the world as a series of clean shapes, stripped back and simple…it must make for an uncluttered mind. As someone who can’t help but see every little detail of every bit of information thrown at me, I can only dream of being so clear-headed.
In ‘Within the realm of a dying sun’, Flynn is dissecting complex theories surrounding atomic matter and what I generally refer to as ‘Star Wars stuff’, and giving it back to us in geometrically balanced terms that not only the Bauhaus boys, but the Cubo-Futurists and Suprematists would approve of.
There’s something very sculptural about these new paintings, many of which have been done on a textured paper that softens the bold, hard angles. Perhaps it’s that he appears to have hit his stride here – the works are harmonious and beautiful even when obviously alluding to chaos, standing as strong individual works in their own right. Though small in scale, they are easily imagined as large swinging constructions, reminiscent of Ken Reinhard’s ‘The Red Cube’ from 1986.
There’s so many influences apparent in Flynn’s work – both art historical and pop cultural. Everything from the ABC test pattern that decorated my childhood, to Russian Constructivist posters, Nina Kogan and Joan Miro, through to the spectacle of World Wrestling Federation, Space Invaders and his favourite beer logos. Even the show’s title recalls the obscure Russian opera ‘Victory Over the Sun’, which Kazimir Malevich designed way back in 1913. All are whittled down to the essence of themselves in his compositions, no longer representational so much as sensory.
Actually, you know what? I reckon Christian Flynn notices everything too, and has a brain equally as cluttered as mine – he’s just figured out how to take a brush to the holy mess and make it beautiful.