James Ettelson's new series of large-scale acrylic works extend the artist's ongoing interrogation of contemporary culture, specifically looking at the ways in which we’re becoming increasingly ‘fixated’ on technology. He reacts to an age wherein the upsurge of social media has lead to a widespread voyeurism, as symptomised by virtual communities like Instagram, Tinder and Facebook.
The paintings in ‘Fixated’ mark a formal refinement of Ettelson’s meticulous style. Impeccably balanced compositions of clichéd settings, such as lush grassy knolls, sunsets and Sydney Harbour, stage the ‘picture perfect’ imagery that permeates social media – a product of the modern impulse to forcibly construct our own identity. Acknowledging his own complicity in this web of image production and consumption, Ettelson satirises the scenario, using humour in his subjects and titles to poke fun at the inescapability of the digitisation and virtualisation of reality. This is further visualised in the artist’s carefully articulated layering of truncated lines and pools of vibrant colour, which evoke notions of pixelation while conjuring the fast-paced flavour of modern life. In the show, Ettelson will also be debuting a series of patterned timber stumps, which – along with motifs of foliage used in some of the paintings – tacitly encourages us to remedy our fixation with technologically mediated reality by getting out into the real world.