Sydney artist James Powditch sifts through the gems and detritus of our modern world. He adapts found objects and images, enthusing them with new and heightened meaning. A bowerbird by nature, he occupies a special place in contemporary Antipodean art as the foremost constructivist artist of his generation.
Film, text, cartography and architecture are the core influences of his practice. His assemblages feed Powditch’s strong nostalgic leaning and evocative narrative of mindfulness and self-awareness. Memory is at the heart of his work—a moment in time, a song pressed on vinyl, a long forgotten and faded postcard and pages from newly antiquated books, are all re-contextualised by the hand of the artist without compromising the enduring patina on the source materials. It’s an aesthetic that owes much to an analogue age. In effect, artefacts of moment and of a passionate mind, are made precious by the artist. In a world that now stores its memories in the cloud—the tangible nature of the artist’s oeuvre is a powerful reminder that physical manifestation of memory is greater than the ever more encroaching binary code of the online data world.
His constructs have a beautiful, delicate physicality. There is an undoubted nod to the assemblages of American surrealist Joseph Cornell, with yet a localised familiarity that doesn’t speak to a globalised nostalgia. As such, Powditch has been well recognised for his relevance to Australian culture, enjoying a long and successful exhibiting career in major curatorial exhibitions. Winner of both the Blake Prize and the Mosman Art Prize, let alone finalist five times in the Archibald, nine in the Wynne prize and multiple stints in the Sulman and Moran Prizes, the importance of Powditch’s vision and commentary about our world cannot be understated.