Jonathan Dalton

The Black Swan and Other Lost Poems

13 April — 29 April 2023

Born 1977
Lives and works in Sydney

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Represented by nanda\hobbs

Jonathan Dalton is an enigmatic artist who challenges his audience to see past the obvious. His painting is a beautiful labyrinthine of shifting perceptions. There is an intricate precision in his compositional methodology—the subjects are flawlessly rendered, drawing the eye into the complex theatricality of his mind. Technically, his treatment of the painted subjects is a seductive play on the audience's eagerness to recognise the three-dimensionality of form within the picture plane. Through the artist's hand, the reflective qualities of light on metal, of the bending of forms in water, become real rather than representational to our literal seeking eyes. 

In The Black Swan and Other Lost Poems, Dalton’s provocative storytelling is at its best. In visual terms, he provides us with enough pictorial information to become comfortable, before turning the world as it exists on its head. He leads us into a place where everything is not as it initially seems. This is a metaphor-rich exhibition—Dalton’s narratives are gifts from the history of humanity's apparent rational thought—an endless supply of contradictions, absurdities, and failed truths—providing a rich vein for the artist to mine.    

A central tenant to the exhibition is the black swan—imaged in origami form—a vision of aesthetic perfection. From the time of the Romans in the first century CE, the black swan was regarded as a mythological absurdity in Europe, where the endemic colour of swans is white. The depth of this belief ran through all strata of society and helped reinforce many societal norms about the impossibility of a particular event taking place. 

The European exploration of the Southern Oceans in the 1600’s and 1700’s led to the consequential realisation that black swans had in fact always existed in Australia. The experience has become a philosophical trope for our ability to be so sure about something yet so wrong, and then justify the error with the rewriting of the historical narrative. The outlier becomes the norm as the black swan has escaped the captivity of the human mind.

The submersion of the once revered objects of man's inventive mind—film cameras, rotary dial phones—now inhabits the fishbowl. Through this vessel, the artist magnifies the relentless surge we have for acquiring new technologies and experiences, only to have them discarded as trinkets of a pre-digital age. Here in the present, important objects of the past inhabit a watery grave of ambivalent relevance, destined to be investigated—or is it ignored by inattentive goldfish?

The importance of Dalton’s work is in his visual articulation and commentary on contemporary society. He brings into sharp focus the many absurdities of our philosophical convictions. Dalton draws on moments in history throughout this exhibition but asks us; What now? What do we hold as true that is in fact false? We need only open our smartphones to see that the black swan has now made itself well and truly at home in our world.

 

Ralph Hobbs
April 2023

 

\ Exhibition featured works

Jonathan Dalton

Allowing the Inference of Mr Hume

2023 \ Oil on gesso on Board \ 70 x 60cm

SOLD

Jonathan Dalton

And It Was All Going So Well Until Then

2023 \ Oil on Linen \ 137 x 122cm

SOLD

Jonathan Dalton

Burning Time

2023 \ Oil on Gesso on Board \ 50 x 40cm

SOLD

Jonathan Dalton

Cataloging Swans

2023 \ Oil on Board \ 70 x 60cm

SOLD

Jonathan Dalton

DISCO!

2023 \ Oil on linen \ 137 x 122cm

SOLD

Jonathan Dalton

I'm Ready for my Close Up Mr DeMille

2023 \ Oil on linen \ 137 x 122cm

SOLD

Jonathan Dalton

Talking to (A) God on the Big Red Telephone

2023 \ Oil on linen \ 137 x 122cm

SOLD

Jonathan Dalton

The Dissolution of Parliament

2023 \ Oil on linen \ 137 x 122cm

SOLD

Jonathan Dalton

The Impossibility of Swans

2023 \ Oil on Gesso on Board \ 60 x 60cm

SOLD

Jonathan Dalton

We Invited A Few Friends to Tea

2023 \ Oil on linen \ 137 x 122cm

SOLD

\ Other exhibitions

Yoshio Honjo

The Serpent, the Courtesan and other Japanese Fables

23 July — 10 August 2024

COMING HOME

Group Exhibition

17 July — 27 July 2024

ONCE UPON A MIDNIGHT DREARY

Group Exhibition

13 July — 20 July 2024

Contact Us

to find out more about The Black Swan and Other Lost Poems.

12 - 14 Meagher Street Chippendale, NSW 2008
Opening Hours
Monday to Friday, 9.00am - 5.30pm Saturday, 11am - 4pm Closed Public Holidays (and Easter Saturday)