Cool Hunter Predictions: David Noonan - Art Collector

Issue 47, January - March 2009

This profile appeared in the "Cool Hunter Predictions" feature, part of the annual special issue "50 Things Collectors Need to Know 2009"

David Noonan right now seems to be everywhere and all at once, building on his international profile with the support of his Sydney dealer, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery. Currently based in London with an East End studio near his gallery HOTEL, Noonan has been working steadily and productively in the international arena with gallerists now in Los Angeles (David Kordansky), New York (Foxy Productions) and London (HOTEL).

This year, he exhibited one of his exquisite large format screenprints on wood in Lord Byron’s ancestral home, Newstead Abbey. Comprising overlays of found photos with misty exposures, white peacocks emerge from this faded grandeur alluding to Byron’s gothic sensibilities. A seated masked reveller and a cowled monk complete this mysterious evocation of decayed luxury. Poetic and melancholic contributions from eight artists, including Turner Prize nominee Goshka Macuga, are featured in That beautiful pale face is my fate (For Lord Byron). Clearly, Noonan is in fascinating company.

Born in Ballarat in Victoria in 1969, he completed postgraduate studies in painting at the Victorian College of the Arts. During Noonan’s formative years in Melbourne, he was a regular visitor of artist run spaces Store 5 and 1st Floor as well as a studio resident of Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces.

Last year was a mammoth year for him with his first solo exhibition in London at Chisenhale. His atmospheric silkscreens have been vividly described as “dreams that keep you from getting back to sleep, even though you’re not sure what it is that has upset you. Noonan’s images are like stains in your head, they can be beautiful but are mostly uncomfortable and vague”. He also exhibited at Baronian Francey Gallery in Brussels, Stuart Shave Modern Art in London and Art: Concept in Paris, while participating in the 6th Busan Biennial and closer to home, the TarraWarra Biennial.

In 2007, Noonan transformed the hip Palais de Tokyo in Paris with partitions covered in hessian so as to provide a backdrop to his moody paintings. Sourced from a magazine about avant garde German theatre, his inventive usage of media is combined with a plethora of references, from F. Scott Fitzgerald and Nick Cave to the films of Ingmar Bergman and Andrei Tarkovsky. In a recent interview in Mousse magazine, Noonan says: “There are a great deal of references that all come together in quite inexplicable ways.”

Photography, film, sculpture, screenprints, paintings and collages are components of a larger ensemble of owls, Tudor style architecture, wayang puppets and Indian gurus that form parallel realities. Held together through a sensitive understanding of architectural and spatial environments, more recently Noonan has carpeted the gallery floor with a sisal rug, further adding texture to his installations. Jennifer Higgie, co-editor of Frieze, describes his enigmatic practice as “…a clean minimalism inflected with hallucinatory explosions of figuration.”

Currently, Noonan is busy preparing new work for Nicolas Bourriaud’s Altermodern: Tate Triennial in February this year. (Bourriaud co-founded the Palais de Tokyo and wrote the influential publication Relational Aesthetics.) Responding to the vastness of the Tate Britain, Noonan is making large sculptures “like a parade or kind of protest march.”

Natalie King

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