ECSTASY IN THE ABYSS by SHIDA
Posted by: KOAN
OPENING FRIDAY 19th of MAY 6-10pm
UNTIL SUNDAY 5th of APRIL
AT BACKWOODS GALLERY
The inherent desire for order over chaos – for categories and labels – is rife in the art world, and as a result, street art is often condensed into subgenres. Shida’s art is testament to the fact that you cannot and should not categorise street art – his vibrant, fractal-based work is part of an ever-evolving mythos that flows continuously across manifold mediums.
Deities emerge from fathomless depths in a climax of luminous colour, as Shida summons the spirits of a parallel dimension. He weaves an epic visual mythology through his art, as the towering incarnations that he paints across city walls envelop onlookers. The exact nature of Shida’s work is hard to define; yet his imagery is unwaveringly distinct, poetic and evocative. His anamorphic creatures, like nature itself, are tempestuous and unpredictable, evoking feelings of vulnerability, sexuality and perhaps even utopia.
When viewed from the street, the sheer scale of Shida’s art places emphasis on bodily presence. These larger-than-life, otherworldly beings – part phoenix, part god, part human – reflect the dynamics of intimacy and physicality in their gestures. Shida’s name is eponymous with meticulous line-work, rapid movement and extreme colour contrasts, and he draws on these techniques to foreground socio-sexual aspects of the body. Painted across water towers and multi-storey buildings, his creatures laugh ecstatically as they embrace, their vast, naked limbs spread wide in ecstasy or carefully intertwined in acts of affection and lust.
Presented by Backwoods Gallery, Ecstasy in the Abyss is Shida’s most ambitious exhibition to date – an immersive experience that demonstrates his devotion to engaging contemporary art practice. Seamlessly shifting between painting, sculpture, installation and collage, Shida’s new work in Ecstasy in the Abyss is distinct, radical and gestural, as he contrasts a refined paint marbling technique with the painstaking line-work that is his signature style.
In the painting, Paradise rising, marbled, prismatic colours radiate from the body of an ethereal being, poignantly contrasting with the pure blackness of the background. From beneath a glassy, resin-finished surface, the creature hovers as nymphs ride atop its back, and viewers catch a glimpse of a Roger Dean-esque world of fantasy and mysticism. Sharp, intricate lines emulate the curvature of the animal’s elongated talons: Shida’s bold, ever-flowing lines have evolved from the necessity to paint quickly on the street, and his impulse to emulate his own bodily gestures as he paints large-scale.
Through Ecstasy in the Abyss, the intricacy and precision of Shida’s street work also manifests in the form of collages and paintings composed of paper cuttings. Shida’s collaging technique is innovative and transgressive – he uses shards of paint-marbled paper to construct mystifying figures that move through vast, mountainous landscapes. The process of cutting something out of paper creates an absence or an abyss, of something that once was but has now been cut away. As Shida interprets his multi-faceted collages as paintings, he fills these absences with omnipotent possibilities for the paper cutting.
The joy of collage lies in the “realness” of the paper cut. In Crab in crystal depths, Shida experiments with three-dimensionality, using sheets of clear plexiglass to divide and layer his collages across actual, tangible planes. The body of a crab-like animal, painted in fiery, burnt orange hues, is entwined in psychedelic blue branches across several layers of perspex. This sublime creature’s rear claws appear far away, lost to the depths of the forest beyond, whereas its brilliant crest and narrowed, all-seeing eyes are vivid in the foreground.
Ecstasy in the Abyss is a showcase of the pivotal influence that Shida has had over the Australian street art scene. At twenty-three years of age, Shida has established himself as an ambitious innovator, returning to Melbourne after a world tour that spanned four continents. Shida participated in the Galeria Urban Forms large format street project in Łódź, Poland in 2012, where he painted a five-storey mural over twelve days. He has also been involved in multi-storey mural projects in Phuket, Chicago, Berlin, Vienna, Brisbane, Melbourne and the Gold Coast.
Solo exhibitions in recent years include Spirits, Blake House Gallery, Brisbane (2013); Spirits of Memora, Inoperable Gallery, Vienna, Austria (2012); Finding Paradise, Comb Gallery, Gold Coast (2011); Crystals of the Colossus, Until Never, Melbourne (2011); Nec Spe Nec Metu, Nine Lives Gallery, Brisbane (2010); Fate’s Fantasy, Inoperable Gallery, Vienna, Austria (2009); and Crystals of the Colossus, Cylinder, Brisbane (2009). His work has also featured in numerous group exhibitions, including Outpost, Sydney (2011); Edwina Corlette Small Works, Brisbane (2011); and Stroke 0.2 Urban Art Fair, Munich, Germany (2010).
– Chloe Sugden
For more information about ECSTASY IN THE ABYSS by SHIDA or to request a copy of the collection catalogue, contact firstname.lastname@example.org