Last Friday Jinn attended the opening of Kyle Hughes-Odgers’ exhibition “A Thousand Lights From A Hundred Skies” (so jealous!). He got the chance to have a chat with the talented artist himself about his work and inspiration behind it. I wish with all my heart I could have been there too! See what he wrote about the evening below.
“I love your stuff man.”
He turns a bearded grin in my direction.
Kyle Hughes-Odgers seems like a really nice bloke. When I tell him that Sarah and I were really huge fans of his work, he almost seems surprised. Shocked even. Never mind the hundred or so people milling around inside Turner Galleries just to see his latest exhibition. He still seems genuinely appreciative of the praise. Some people are just nice people it seems. And super artistically talented too!
“So Sarah’s up in Broome?” Clearly he reads the blog!
“Yep,” I tell him. “I’m here by myself for six months. Have to work, you know.”
He laughs. “So you’re manning the fort by yourself,” he says. I nod.
Kyle is such an accessible person and his art is so accessible too. But it doesn’t baby you. It doesn’t give you obvious answers. He draws you in with gorgeous geometric shapes, interesting patterns, colours and symmetry — but beyond that, he makes you look, he makes you think. The figures he depicts are almost child-like in their simplicity — yet at a certain level, the art holds something back, encouraging you to forage deeper for meaning.
“I think art needs to be more than just aesthetically pleasing, otherwise it just becomes design,” Kyle explains.
“It needs to be open to interpretation. I make each piece or body of work around a specific set of concepts or ideas that make sense to me but I wouldn’t want the work/concepts to be so obvious or based purely on aesthetics that the viewer can’t see or understand an idea that links to their own personal experience. I don’t think a painting works if you know exactly what the artist is trying to say at first glance.
“There needs to be multiple layers to keep me interested.”
Earlier I had spoken to gallery director Helen Turner about her view of Kyle’s current works. She talks with passion and enthusiasm. She is obviously a big fan!
“A lot of these paintings depict the struggle between the natural and industrial world,” she says.
“We see those figures struggling to find balance between the man-made and natural world, and we identify with them. I think we all yearn for a more natural life, but just like the figures depicted, we don’t always get there.”
Kyle goes on to explain further: “I’m just highlighting something that bothers me about the modern world. Human advancement at all costs even if it means we are destroying our natural environment. As long as we have our fill in our lifetime. It’s a horrible attitude to being alive.”
And what of the figures themselves? Some of them seem particularly sad. Are any of them based on himself, for example? (Some of them do have a passing resemblance to the man! Especially with that beard!)
Kyle laughs. “None of the figures are identifiably me, but… I think subconsciously, artists do tend to portray themselves in their work,” he says.
“The figures are something that has developed over time. I try to show moments of hope or optimism amidst the weight of their surroundings or situation.
“My recent work has been focusing on ideas of ingenuity and practical creativity within a narrative. Paintings about knowing what you need to do to change a situation but not having the skill set or mechanisms to do so. So there is a melancholy to the work.”
We talk for a bit longer, about his experiences overseas (he loved Cambodia and New York); painting up in Port Hedland (he loved painting the big abandoned bus in the middle of the desert); his plans for the future (to be based in Perth, but travel some more), his opinion of the arts scene in Perth (its growing, expanding, improving!).
After talking for several minutes, Kyle attention is taken — another gallery devotee has grasped his hand with a firm handshake. He looks like a friend of his.
“A Thousand Lights From a Hundred Skies”
Feb 8 – March 9 2013
470 Williams St Northbridge