09 August 2011


Squashed aluminium cans, discarded long-necks in brown paper bags and out of date technology kicked to the curb. These items are strewn throughout the landscape of most cities, waiting for a council clean-up or street sweeper to finish the job. Will Coles uses these familiar objects, forgotten and unwanted, as the foundation of his work that delivers to the streets witty and thought provoking social commentary. This street artist’s sculptures don’t deface like traditional graffiti, instead they encroach on physical space, occupying the footpath or a park bench. Coles has used the streets of Sydney, Melbourne and London as a canvas for his cast ciment and resin creations.

The wrapped beer bottles ‘Lest We Remember’ and ‘In Memoriam’ are, in the words of Coles, “memorials to lives (& money) pissed away.” He extends the associated cultural meanings embedded into objects to say something that ignites thought. Whether one of Coles’ flattened cans is lying in the city as an analogy of how monotonous and meaningless jobs leave people crushed, or it is screaming in bold protruding letters for all people ‘think’ about their waste and the wasting of life, he is using this object of the everyday to encourage people to stop and reflect.
Left: Will Coles, 'Lest we remember' 2010, acrylic paint on cast ciment fondu, 28.5 x 8.5 x 8.5cm, edition of 50
Centre: Will Coles, 'Think' 2011, ciment fondu, 2.5 x 13 x 11cm, edition of 50
Right: Will Coles, 'Fuk Art' 2008, cold cast resin (gold) - unique, 2 x 4.5 x 9.5cm

Coles’ comments on his use of cast technological devices in his work, saying “…to relate to an object we must know it, apart from the human body Westerners probably spend more time 'relating' to a television than any other object.” In his most recent show at the Gallery, Coles presented a large, white flat screen television inscribed with the words of art historians, forming a paragraph that seemed intelligent in its convoluted state, but was nonsensical in reality. Humorously naming this piece ‘(artwank),’ Coles continues to comment on the world around him, the art world in this instance. Coles also often uses other technological devices such as mobile phones and remotes, all finished with a simple phrase that adds an intellectual depth to the work.

The bigger a work gets, the more site specific it becomes and these projects reveal the true guerrilla tactics of this artist. A row of busts upon plinths on Sydney’s Chalmers Street had been standing there short of one bust for some time. Coles created a sculpture for that empty plinth that he installed the day before ANZAC Day to comment on the commercialism of a day that should focus on remembrance. As Coles comments “This plinth has been empty for years so (it) had to be used properly.” It can be seen how he conveys serious messages, but approaches them with humour. This playful style is very apparent in his most recent work exhibited in the Gallery entitled ‘Sculptures for unwanted children: 'dead weight'.’ These concrete floaties were a feature of our ‘Art + Humour Me’ show, and received more than just a bit of a giggle!

top left image: Will Coles, 'ANZAC II (RSL)' detail of installation 2010, fibre glass resin shell sprayed with metallic paint & quarter filled with cement
bottom right image: Will Coles, 'Sculpture for Unwanted Children: Dead Weight' 2010, cast ciment fondu - 2 pieces, 17 x 31 x 20cm (variable), edition of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment