Shaun Gladwell - Essays PDF Print E-mail


Dr. Blair French

The Bike Rider

Clad in black jeans, leather jacket and helmet and viewed always from behind, the motorcycle rider is ever in motion away from us. He remains anonymous no matter how long we spend in front of the screen.  The camera keeps a consistent tracking distance as the rider descends the outback highway, the slow-motion scrolling of the white road lines through the frame evoking a multitude of references from popular cinema, music and literature. The rider’s arms are outstretched, parallel to the horizon line that splits the video frame, a line formed where sky – on occasion vivid blue, other times tinged pink at dawn – meets the burnt red and grey mulga and saltbush scrubland of the plains stretched out before him, evoking the high horizon line used by twentieth-century Australian painters Sidney Nolan and in more pronounced manner Fred Williams to picture the vertiginous experience of encounter with such vast spaces.  Not unsurprisingly, given the quality of his own painting practice, Shaun Gladwell always carefully attends to formal composition within the picture plane, as well as to the representational history of such composition. 

Dr. Blair French is Executive Director, Artspace Visual Arts Centre, Sydney

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