Pastries and Pastiche
Paul Worstead is an artist who has gone his own way and painted his own thoughts, and never mind what fashion, critics or anyone else has ever said.
The result is an artist whose unique sensibility has quietly but profoundly influenced a generation of other paint workers and designers.
Now Paul is finally getting the wider recognition he deserves. His old mate Stephen Cummings has written a nice bit of blurb for the show - reproduced below after a brief bio. You can't say fairer than that. And the pictures are really worth a look.
Paul Worstead grew up in the northern beach suburbs of Sydney and started designing posters and magazines whilst an art student at the National Art School, East Sydney, in the early seventies.
He further developed his poster technique being the arts and crafts officer at the community centre at inner city Chippendale called The Settlement. His posters and album designs for bands like Mental As Anything and The Sports were recently acknowledged at a survey show in 2005 at the Tin Sheds Gallery, Sydney.
Paul is probably best known as one of the first artists engaged by the clothing brand, Mambo. Paul’s fabric and poster designs can now be found in the permanent collections of the Powerhouse Museum and the National Gallery of Australia. In the year 2000 he was selected by the Sydney Olympics for a poster design which depicted flying thongs.
During all this time he has maintained his own art practice and exhibited regularly at the bookshop, Gleebooks.
In recent years he was selected in the Archibald Prize for his self portrait as a rabbit and in 2006 was a finalist in the Sulman Prize.
"It’s probably due to Paul Worstead that I can tell the difference between post-box red and Paloma Picasso red. Before Paul, red was just . . . red. In fact, I first met Paul through a girlfriend when he lived in the flat above hers in a three-story terrace in Potts Point.
I have crashed at his various pads for thirty years as a working musician and soldier in the army of love. Apart from that year when we had a fight and sulked we now ring each other once a week, gossip, and talk of the world and stuff.
God said, let Paul be, and behold there was light and vomiting dogs and rabbits and snails and Joey Ramone and quotes from eccentric English philosophers and poets from the 1930’s.[page]
What else? I ate a couple of delicious meals with Paul’s mum and grandmother years ago. I recall a yummy pumpkin pie and that his mother’s house was extremely dank and smelled of rotting books, his father was a poet, financial journalist and collector of analytical literature. Paul's mother had a wonderful garden, including a rather voluptuous avocado tree.
Most people see elaborate sexual and political metaphors in Paul’s paintings. Reluctantly, I must agree.
One of the interesting things about Paul is that he does not subscribe to the cult of personality. I have never worked out if he is an inspired amateur or a slack professional.
To my knowledge, Paul began as a sculptor, then moved on to become the high-priest of Sydney screen printing, only to make a detour and devote his energies to painting.
Paul is a painter like few others; he has a pungent and unique sensibility. I should note that Paul still has trouble with faces. For Paul painting is not an end in itself, but rather his way of opening up to the world. Paul is hardcore, he has never binged on consumerism; I don’t think he has bought any new clothes since 1977. This is what makes him so annoying and simultaneously so great to hang around with and also partly explains why his art is important.
Paul Worstead is a philosophical anarchist and a pretty good painter as this exhibition clearly reveals".
Lovetown, Melbourne. 2006
Pastries and Pastiche - Paul Worstead, Damien Minton Gallery, 61-63 Great Buckingham Street, Redfern, November 15 to December 2, 2006, Wednesday to Saturday 11am to 6pm.