Wednesday, April 21, 2010




For Tony Twigg the journey (of his work) has been crucial in the way his work demonstrates an integrity of purpose over a long time, and in a very literal sense, namely his ceaseless travelling through Southeast Asia. But more interesting are the encounters along the way which have acted like lightning rods, moments of explosive concentrations of artistic insight, precipitating major shifts in the work. For Twigg, this movement has exposed him to culturally embedded visual experiences which helped him to make sense of what he had been trying to do before he began his travels.

With the timber constructions Twigg was aiming to create a single image that would stand for the entire story. 'I was looking,' he says, 'for a history that corresponded to an emotion... perhaps I didn't find it, but I found a city that did- Manila.' Living, working and exhibiting in Manila, the Australian narrative content was clearly no longer relevant, so Twigg abandoned the figurative element in his work and began working with abstraction. If this decision was triggered by a realisation that his earlier Australian narratives would not make sense to a Filipino audience, it was equally the result of his encounter with Filipino culture and beyond.

Twigg collects images as he moves through Asia, especially of the layering of materials such as bamboo on timber; that kind of arm wrestle between the organic and the urge to achieve some order. There is a tenuousness and provisionality about this built environment. Walls and fences are made up of loosely connected elements that seem to be permanently at the point of falling apart. The form, in other words, is a product of the materials at hand. In a similar way, Twigg's ovoid forms combine found eucalypt branches with off-cuts of milled timber in reductive compositions, which summarise his collected images.

Although Twigg abandoned figuration, the narrative and figurative hover fugitive and furtive in the background. The verticals have a 'portrait format' and we reads in heads, arms and legs. The are totemic in feel and conjure up visual memories of Cycladic art, Alberto Giacometti and David Smith. The ovoids, on the other hand, remind me of those transitional landscapes of Piet Mondrian, except that in Twigg's constructions the ovoid perimeters counteract the figurative.

Excerpt from Paul McGillick, "Material Encounter: The art of of Tony Twigg" published in
Tony Twigg: Encountering the Object, 2009.
Paul McGillick is Editor of Indesign and Habitus (Australia).   

To view work from the exhibition TONY TWIGG: RICOCHET 28 APRIL TO 22 MAY 2010, CLICK HERE

Tony Twigg:  The Accordian (small), 2010
oil paint on timber construction,
300 x 315 x 25mm