Important Australian + International Fine Art
26 November 2008

Shaun Gladwell

born 1972

digital video

duration: 11 mins ed

ition: 2/4

Two digital video discs (Master and Player), each signed and numbered on the disc
Contained in a Pelican 1150 case enclosed in a Pelican cardboard box inscribed with title and edition: PATAPHYSICAL MAN ED 2/4 also inscribed: PATAPHYSICAL 2/4 Certificate of Authenticity signed by the artist included Videography: Gotaro Uematsu Commissioned by Experimenta

$45,000 - 60,000
Sold for $49,200 (inc. BP) in Auction 6 - 26 November 2008, Melbourne

Sherman Galleries, Sydney
Private collection, Melbourne

Catalogue text

Selected to represent Australia at the prestigious Venice Biennale in 2009, Sydney artist Shaun Gladwell is not only the country's most feted video artist but, significantly, has been credited as integral to the burgeoning success of media arts internationally. As gallery director Simeon Kronenberg muses, 'I can't think of another Australian artist that has had the same kind of interest and focus. There have certainly been many other Australian artists that have had, or are having wonderful international careers but I don't think there's been anything quite like the focus that's been on Shaun and that's a very great indication of the power of his images.'1

A graduate of Sydney College of Arts, in 2001 Gladwell was awarded a Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship to study at Goldsmith's College in London, following which he completed a celebrated residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris. Today represented by Anna Schwartz Gallery, Gladwell is best known for his sublime, post-apocalyptic videos such as Storm Sequence, 2000, which explore the creative possibilities of street sub-culture by transforming breakdancing, BMX riding and graffiti art into virtuoso performances. In this widely-acclaimed piece, seminal to the establishment of his reputation abroad, Gladwell skateboards freestyle on a flat space of concrete above the crashing waves of Bondi, the ominous black clouds of an approaching storm reminiscent of a brewing Turner sky-scape. Encapsulating the impossible, the irrational and the fantastic, the sequence is typically counter-logical and illusory - thus prompting his audience to discovery the extraordinary within the ordinary, familiar reality of our everyday world.

Equally powerful and iconic, the present Pataphysical Man 2005 is a quiet, contemplative work featuring the inverted image of a breakdancer spinning on his head with arms outstretched in a manner evoking Leonardo da Vinci's famous Vitruvian Man. Significant for its art historical context which also includes references to the work of Australian artist Imants Tillers and modernist architect Le Corbusier, the 'video painting' - as Gladwell describes it - seeks to draw the viewer's attention to the construction of the human form, its beauty and the heroic, physical gravity-defying feats of which it is capable through technology. The natural continuation of the artist's formalist concerns with depicting movement within the frame, the piece nevertheless remains multifaceted in its meaning - as intimated by the title invoking the surreal, absurd logic of pataphysics. Indeed, Gladwell himself asserts, 'My work doesn't intend to say anything in particular but is open to many possible readings. I leave the metaphors open, but pregnant. I don't try to be didactic or pontificating.'2

1. Simeon Kronenberg cited in Dean, A., 'Shaun Gladwell: pataphysical man', Sydney Alumni Magazine, Spring 2008, p. 17
2. Gladwell cited ibid.