Strange Ways to Learn About Life Mark Cowell

- Exhibitions


Strange Ways to Learn About Life started out as noting my experiences growing up, just as marketing appeared to became more aggressive and sophisticated in changing the way we feel and behave. However…perhaps due to lockdowns, curfews and a general fog of me being Mr Grumpypants, this became an exercise in cheesy cynicism. So, I scrapped it and started again, just as Melbourne’s curfew lifted.

Restarting the work, I looked at the textures of the destroyed paintings and found beauty in revealing layers of coloured paint using paint stripper. The gestalt like, meaning-making process showed me new connections to the theme and new relevance was made of memories of advertising images and icons, which have made their way back into the work. This time as symbols, recognisable shorthand for something that is hard to say succinctly.

The paintings use the tension of opposing forces and look for ways to balance them. Destruction and construction, smooth flat sections fight for space against layers and textures and cartoons from childhood battle for relevance in the pictures. The concept of repetition compulsion can be seen. But rather than it being an unconscious drive to the horrors of the past, here it is continual rehashing of the fight between discipline and opportunities that come from risk, spontaneity and vulnerability, and the beauty of this tension in an observable, visual form.


  • Event Details
    Date & Times:
    Monday 6 December 2021 - Sunday 16 January 2022


    Angela Robarts-Bird Gallery
    Wheelchair Accessible
    References to drugs, references to guns
  • Credits
    Mark Cowell