With a practice spanning over thirty-five years and encompassing painting, bronze sculpture and printmaking, Melbourne-based artist Dean Bowen has developed a distinctive symbolic language that traverses urbanity and rurality, humanity and animality. Renowned for his charming, whimsical renditions of kindly animals, quirky characters and Australian environments, the artist evinces the simple pleasures of human habitation within the modern world.
Bowen’s new collection celebrates the vicissitudes of life through a prism of humour and optimism. Crafted from foraged materials, the artist’s wall assemblages explore the idiosyncratic interplays between mankind and the animal kingdom. Tin panels, nails and wire are transformed into anthropomorphised figures that peer out at the viewer with rusty omniscient eyes. Their totemic forms and earthy tones evoke primitive associations, forming a kind of private ritual between artist and object. Tapping into the human preoccupation with our own image from early civilizations to contemporary culture, the assemblages are like primitive offerings that deify the detritus of the modern world. They are a scavenged horde that appears to us from the industrial wasteland of the future, and yet there’s an aura of joy radiating from these characters – a redemptive quality that reminds us to look beyond life’s litter.
Bowen holds a PhD and an MA from Monash University, as well as a Diploma of Fine Art (Printmaking) from RMIT. The artist has exhibited his works in countless exhibitions around the country and overseas, including Paris, London, Japan, Germany, Poland, Egypt, Switzerland, Spain, China and Slovenia. He has been awarded several notable residencies and has been the recipient of numerous prestigious national and international awards, including the People’s Choice Award in the Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award (2003), Tai-he Award at the 1st International Print Biennial of Beijing, China, Sponsors prize at the 4th Sapporo International Print Biennale, Japan, and the Jacaranda Acquisitive Drawing Award (1995). The artist has received a number of significant sculpture commissions including Point Leo Estate 2017, Deakin University Burwood Campus 2014, Hamilton Gallery 2014 and the arts/ACT Government Gungalin Commission 2011. Bowen’s works are held in many major State and National collections, such as Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Australia, as well as significant public and university collections including the Australian War Memorial, Heidi Museum of Modern Art, Artbank, University of Sydney, Monash University, Queensland University of Technology, University of Melbourne, National Library of Australia, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery and Point Leo Estate. The artist’s work is also held in major international collections in France, Japan, United Kingdom, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Taiwan and Thailand.