Since the 1980s Austen has worked as a painter, sculptor, printmaker and filmmaker. The stylistically diverse elements of his work come together to reveal an often dark yet endearing vision of the world. The artworks in this exhibition, from oil paintings on heavy flax canvas and delicate watercolour works on paper to suspended sculptural objects and cinematic film projects, create an otherworldly space inhabited by Austen’s strange and lovelorn characters.
With sources as varied as 19th century literature, poetry, ancient myth and film noir, the impetus of Austen’s work often derives from his immediate surroundings. There is a liveliness and generosity in his approach to art-making, a delicacy of touch, a delight in the unexpected, and a disarmingly nuanced understanding of complex human emotions. Each object and artwork in this project stands alone and speaks for itself yet simultaneously connects with others in the spaces, forming multiple narratives across the galleries.
Underworld seeks to create a mythical space for viewers to journey through, punctuated by the artist’s poetic musings on the known world, the imagined world, the bright celestial heights above us and the shadowy, unknowable depths below.