26 June — 18 July 2009
26 June — 18 July 2009
Cailan Burns’ inaugural show is a collection of psychedelic, fur, fuzz and flowers.
Showcasing a colourful array of monsters and characters, and reflecting his love of psychedelic music and art, Burns’ work pivots around themes of life, death and rebirth.
Artist’s statement: I have been working in the field of illustration for the past 15 years after graduating from the University of South Australia in 1994 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. I have always worked in the areas of pop and street culture, creating flyers for clothing stores, bands and events as well as designing murals, signage and logos for shops. I have also worked for the animation company Anifex in Adelaide, and it was here that I became more interested in animation and character design.
I work on both paper and canvas as well as with digital media, using computer programs such as Flash, Illustrator and Photoshop. I find these programs provide me with more flexibility in composing and rearranging my illustrations. For instance, on a computer I can create intricate collages with my works and experiment with mixedmedia to create scenes that would be too time-consuming to paint in a traditional manner.
Over the last 6 years I have spent my time traveling between Osaka, Japan and Melbourne. Whilst living in Japan, I was introduced to old Japanese Monster and Ghost Stories or Yōkai (妖怪) meaning demon, spirit or monster (which have continued to inform my illustrations). I was given several Japanese ghost books by a friend which I couldn’t read, but this did not detract from my appreciation of the books’ illustrations. These pictures were amazing, they were so strange and so different from things I had grown up with in Australia.
Drawing on my time in Japan, I started to develop a new theme and range of characters which would begin to inhabit my own world. By repeatedly painting these monsters and creatures, I feel that I am able to represent my own inner nature and spirit, as well as show the sides that I keep hidden – those sides that I want to show, but don’t know how. The characters often look startled, as though you have crossed their path by accident. Others look as though something is happening elsewhere – somewhere on the periphery of the viewer’s range of vision. Some characters also appear to be lost in the moment and do not realise that someone is watching them.
My time in Japan also catalysed my interest in animation from other countries, such as Moomin from Finland, Cheburashka from Russia and Krtek from Checkoslavakia. Each of these illustrations/animations have a strange, folk art quality which I have subsequently tried to incorporate into my own work by using bold colours, patterns and flower designs.
Another major influence on my work is music: everything from 1960s and ‘70s psychedelic and folk music, to Krautrock and early electronica as well as hip hop, dub and rocksteady. It all feeds into my work somehow. For instance, many of my characters are depicted as playing instruments or making music.
Lastly I feel another big influence on my work is that of the Buddhist notion of birth, death and rebirth. Correspondingly, my characters are often depicted in flux: they flow into one another or merge with their environment. Like seasons changing, they are are never static entities; rather, they dwell in a world of infinite possibilities. This is why I use the motif of the heart. I feel it is a symbol of the infinite energy and strength of the soul. As such, my characters are often made up of hearts, or are overflowing with hearts that appear to be out of control and unstoppable.
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