David Noonan: Tapestries

David Noonan: Tapestries

For his inaugural exhibition at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Ballarat-born and London-based artist David Noonan will present a new series of tapestries, his first exhibition exclusively in this medium.

Drawing from the breadth of his modes of production, Noonan combines numerous art and craft techniques, both historical and contemporary, including tapestry, collage, and manual printing methods. For this exhibition, Noonan has created a series of jacquard tapestries in collaboration with weavers in Flanders, Belgium, where tapestries have been made since the 16th century. Invented in 1801, the Jacquard loom combines traditional hand made methods with contemporary digital technology. Le Corbusier called tapestries 'nomadic murals' with their status shifting between folk and fine art, as well as between imperial status symbol and industrially produced furnishing. Noonan's early collage works embraced a rough, 'DIY' aesthetic, which has been increasingly refined throughout his practice, evolving into highly sophisticated and seamless image layering. In stark contrast to the fluid image reproduction capabilities of tapestry, Noonan recalls early rough-cut collaging in these works, utilising the sophisticated language of tapestry to contrast with abruptly layered, hand-cut designs. Reducing the palette to cool grayscale draws immediate references to the rough aesthetics of Xerox, stripping the imagery of nostalgia and creating a temporal ambiguity. Noonan extends and expands his ongoing interest in combining figuration with abstraction, utilising traditional hand cut paper collage to isolate the figures, as distinctly foreground, on abstract backgrounds.

Both the figurative and abstract images are from widely disparate sources and periods in time, but have been constructed to feel unified and part of the same mood and aesthetic landscape. Consistent with Noonan's practice, the sources are not revealed but are rather decontextualised to allow the exhibition's narrative to form in the present. The composition and aesthetic language of the works are inspired by Noonan's ongoing interest in counterculture in both theatre and performance, as well as the graphic design of the underground press.

Noonan's practice encompasses collage, printmaking, sculpture, film, and installation, and draws upon an exhaustive image archive that conflates twentieth century avant garde and subcultural histories. Adopting a methodical approach to selection, Noonan seamlessly references theatre, film, design, architecture, dance and music from both eastern and western cultures. For each work, images are carefully selected, manipulated and reconstructed through a nonlinear approach that re-presents history as an imagined present.

Alongside his rigorous research process, figuration and formal considerations are central to Noonan's constructed scenes. Subjects are often strategically solitary and haunted, even when they appear in groups. The results emanate deeply psychological and existential qualities.