Myles Heskett: The Valleys of Ash
April 8th 2011
The first thing that struck me about Myles Heskett’s The Valleys of Ash were the small, intricate drawings, somewhere between doodles, maps, and the painstaking results of eye-straining repetitive motions. A strange confluence, at once youthful yet considered, exuberant but measured, dreamy and somehow scientific. Although abstract – filled with colourful patterns, complex lines, textured paint and a distinct lack of figures – the works are also very personal.
Many of the drawings and initial sketches for the show were completed throughout Myles’ grueling three-year touring period with his then-band Wolfmother, and for those of you familiar with that story, the chaos and emotion at play throughout the show will come as no surprise.
Some of the most striking drawings are the most detailed, appearing like thousands of brain connections, or an impossible ball of string – infuriatingly in need of unraveling but with no end in sight. There is a fragility in this collection, revealing the underbelly of success – the stresses, confusion, and strain that result from intense artistic practice.
At first glance, the drawings certainly held more interest for me, but the longer I spent in the exhibition space, the more drawn I found myself to the paintings on display. The thick, textured paints, dark palate, mysterious mountainous figures, and – in the case of the show’s centrepiece – comparative magnitude of the paintings worked more slowly, but exerted a hold on me nonetheless. Myles’ cited influences Cy Twombly, Miro and Basquiat emerge in these works, the ghosts in the machine.
The Valleys of Ash is a show that you can spend time with – atmospheric, intricate, revealing and strangely tender. Although the collection is unlikely to set the art world alight, it is a heartfelt display from an emerging artist, unashamedly plumbing the emotional aftermath of the original Wolfmother’s demise and Myles’ rebirth as a visual artist.
The Valleys of Ash is showing at Mart Gallery, Commonwealth St Surry Hills, until April 30th. Entry is free.