Cool hunter predictions: Patrick Doherty - Art Collector

Issue 59, January - March 2012

This profile appeared in the Cool hunter predictions feature, part of the annual special issue 50 Things Collectors Need to Know 2012.

Patrick Doherty draws as if enacting an exorcism, feverishly expelling night terrors, succubi, imps and phantasms. Rat-like creatures gnaw at a Siamese-twinned king and queen who clutch the disembodied head of a deposed royal rival; the moon waxes complete with jagged piranha teeth; a town burns in ritual cleansing while a ragged gravedigger toils. Elsewhere two pregnant witches do battle while deformed, leprous angels pay witness. In a major work featured in the 2007 Primavera exhibition at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, an apocalyptic religious war had broken out as dog soldiers bearing crusader crosses forged murky waters, rifles raised as the Mekong coursed through Jerusalem. Zombies clawed from the ground in a re-enactment of the Last Judgment and emaciated slaves carried wrapped, plague-ridden corpses. Elsewhere, suitably it would seem, he evokes the powers of Silenus – the god of drunkenness – while the spirit of Hieronymus Bosch, no doubt another imbiber of ergot fungi, floats throughout the gallery.

Doherty works on paper, an approach that lends an air of immediacy and urgency to his work. Doherty would have been well placed as some kind of medieval street artist but in other respects he could not be more contemporary. Like a number of other contemporary Australian practitioners, Doherty owes much to the street.

From the world of graffiti he evolved to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in painting with a highly commended award from Curtin University. But Doherty has retained the urgency of graffiti, seamlessly melding the rapid-fire wall work street art with nods to Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly and Otto Dix while resurrecting the monks illuminating holy scripture in candle-lit cells and capturing the end-of-days sensibility of the here and now as we await the rapture.

Ashley Crawford

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