Joshua Yeldham, Rishi, by Anita Traynor, art consultant, blogger, Melbourne
JOSHUA YELDHAM – RISHI
SCOTT LIVESEY GALLERIES
16 NOVEMBER – 10 DECEMBER 2016
It’s no secret that I am not just a smidgen enamoured with the works of Joshua Yeldham, whether they be his breathtaking landscapes that portray monolithic mangroves resting by the Hawkesbury river, or the elusive owl, ominously peering out of the canvas, or for that matter his organically carved sculptures and his intricately carved pigment print photographs that are highlighted by touches of dappled white, all of the above pretty much leave me breathless.
Barren Joey, acrylic on carved board, 152 x 204cm
Whenever I walk into an exhibition with his name on it, I immediately feel like I’ve been transported into his world, a solitary world I suspect, when he is far away from the bustling sounds of city life and the constant melodic murmurs of family routines back home. The artist is definitely no stranger to immersing himself in the calm surrounds of Yeoman’s Bay, Shark Bay, and Mud Island, places he visits frequently to draw and find inspiration for his craft. I don’t use the term craft lightly here either, as in understanding the works of Joshua Yeldham, it is obvious to even the naïve viewer that there is an abundance of skill attached to his creative process.
The owl is a re-occurring theme in many of his paintings and it is given almost ‘God like status’, for it is a symbol of fertility and yet it has also managed to filter into his own personal journey. After struggling for many years to have a family with intensive IVF, Yeldham offered the owl up in his art as one would use prayer or mantra, for he was yearning for a family and had been given little hope by doctors as he suffered a rare medical condition. However, miraculously not long after he started painting the owl figure in his work, his wife found herself expecting their first child and he has continued with the theme as a sort of cathartic process and spiritual journey ever since, for, after all, the owl embodies so many things, least of all wisdom. Silver Owl of Morning Bay
Art wears many guises and you are never disappointed with the paintings that emanate from the dexterous hands of this young artist. They enable you to identify with their solitude and yet simultaneously they make you feel at ease. For me, Yeldham’s paintings evoke an almost mythical presence as if they belong to another world, a more spiritual world not defined by status, class, gender or race. However, implicit in all of his paintings are an almost voracious search for truth, you are reminded that here is an artist who is not afraid to shun the everyday constraints of gallery life, he is adventurous and sets off on a journey that is not one of self -aggrandisement, it is merely an attempt to express nature in all her glory, raw, rich, immense; it beckons us to seek and open our eyes to her grace and beauty.
Joshua’s paintings are made up of intricately woven gestures that land gracefully on the canvas. Paint, shellac, and gouache applied to board, canvas or paper form part of his vast repertoire, a repertoire inspired by poetry, writing and music. His iconic ‘owl’ that we have come to expect in every exhibition is there, and in Rishi, she looms tall and proud, gazing out with her laconic eyes set beneath an ornately embellished forehead. The owl’s presence is comforting and she beckons us to approach, albeit a tad cautiously……you are transfixed and immediately swept up by her gaping frown. I love the owls. Although they are haunting, I am always a tad taken aback by the stunning detail, the intricate meandering dots, daubs, and dapples of paint, layered over hand carved board, the textures and complexities are a sight to behold.
Rishi – Hawkesbury River, 2016 acrylic on hand carved board, 214 x 244cm
Joshua Yeldham is indeed a talented man, one who doesn’t lose sight of his own artistic aspirations, he is what I like to deem ‘purist’ on so many levels. So get down to this exhibition and find yourself wandering in his own very gracious footsteps………………….
Morning Bay, shellac ink on hand carved linen paper, 296 x 196cm