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Incidental Contact_ Feb 6th - April 30th 2020

Solo Exhibition @ The Australian Consulate New York

Titled: "Incidental Contact", the project seeks to use appropriated images to create photographic objects. It is an investigation of perception, artifice and the sensation of the eye. The work investigates the transformation of photographic modes of production and the manipulation and exploitation of data to invent new visual forms. It is an examination of image consumption via online platforms, vacuous and banal.


Hover # 201913, 201910, 201914, 201909, 201915

Chromogenic Print face-mounted 3mm matt plexiglas


Trace # 201902, 201903, 201904, 201901

Chromogenic Print face-mounted 3mm plexiglas


Orb # 201904

Year: 2019

Chromogenic Print face-mounted 3mm matt plexiglas

70cm Diameter

Lumina # 201901 # 201902

Year: 2019

Chromogenic Print face-mounted 3mm plexiglas



Catalogue essay

Paul Snell is an Australian artist based in Launceston, Tasmania. He is a graduate of the Tasmanian School of Art, University of Tasmania and was awarded a Master of Creative Arts in 2011. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Whyalla Contemporary Art Prize, the Tidal City of Devonport National Art Award and the Flanagan Art Prize. In 2016 Snell presented a major solo exhibition, The Liminal Space, at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston. His work is held in the Devonport Regional Gallery, Burnie Regional Art Gallery, the Justin House Museum, Melbourne and in corporate and private collections in Germany, the United States, Hong Kong and Australia. His most recent international exhibition activity was at Bos Fine Art in the Netherlands.

Paul Snell has been fine-tuning his art practice since 2011 exploring the creative potential of digital image making and trialling colour relationships within a minimal aesthetic. More recently, Snell has been employing appropriated images. Inherent in his work is the varied arrangement of colour bands that make his images ‘pop’. Adhered to clear Plexiglas the works have a mysterious ‘pull’ that connects the eye and mind of the viewer.

The allure in Incidental Contact is achieved through a series of processes commencing with appropriated images. While these are invisible to the viewer in their original form, they are the foundation of Snell’s process and finished work. He describes them as ‘throw away’ images that rapidly appear and disappear in digital media. He manipulates appropriated imagery in order to pull – or push – the subject matter into annihilation. Once the subject is altered beyond recognition, he concentrates on colour relationships, contrast and saturation to achieve hard-edge or soft-edge images. This evolution shifts the fast ‘throw away’ images to arrive at ‘slow’, contemplative objects. The works are then presented to appear suspended, attached to a thick layer of Plexiglas and displayed on the wall.

The Hover series and the individual work titled Orb are a departure from his hard-edge works. Hover represent soft-edge circular images. These sit within a colour background subtly coalescing with the rounded shapes. Individually, the works take on unique emotive qualities. Without the clarity of line inherent in the hard-edge images, they bring a sense of motion: a gentle hover, a dark hum or perhaps a soft tempo. The almost white centres have their own pulse, mimicking the appearance of light. The palette remains intense, unlike the sharp lines in Lumina or in the Trace series. They appear as indeterminate spaces that nudge up against each other obscuring the edges, concealing their own beginning. This visual state is both alluring and slightly menacing as the eye and mind attempt to establish a focus point. On another level, the impression of depth is created through a play of colour, shape and opacity. The colour pairings vary in degrees, graduating from one colour relation to another. Others meld into slightly contrasting colours intensifying the perceptual experience.

At the same moment the Hover series mesmerize with a soft, almost perceptible movement. There is a sense they are still ‘becoming’, offering the viewer a liminal space to imaginatively traverse.

The title of the exhibition, Incidental Contact may hint at the nature of process – of construction – which for Snell is necessary, yet secondary, to the viewing experience. It may also prompt us to consider how rapidly images are consumed on digital devices and to consider the antithesis (that is, the physical object) as a form of looking and becoming that we need to hold onto, for fear it too, disappears.

Dr Ellie Ray

Independent Arts Consultant




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