© Stephen Eastaugh, 2018. All Rights Reserved.
We went camping up in the nearby mountains called the pre Cordillera Range; our destination was Portillo Argentino sitting at 4290 M high. The weather was kind so after Argentinean mate tea we scurried up there in about 4 hours absorbing the fine landscape. One feature that interested me were the snow and ice formations called Penitentes found at high altitudes over 4000 meters. They take the form of tall thin blades of hardened snow or ice closely spaced with the blades oriented towards the general direction of the sun. Penitentes can be as tall as a person making them rather astonishing. After such sights and some sighs we came down the mountain and back into the studio I fell to consider, create and conjure up paintings with a mess of ideas from this trek and many others Penitentes, displaced mats, curfews, tarns, badventure, deserts, smaze, gamblers and howling dogs all float about in my mind awaiting realization in some form.
My problem has never been 'what to do?' creating art annihilated that question long ago. My problem seems to be 'where to do?' As I write this I plan packing, transport, locating studio spaces on the road and logistics for exhibitions. In two months I will head to the Aeropuerto to fly over the Pacific Ocean beginning the next walkabout. Solo exhibitions planned for this year include:-
Below is John Batten’s catalogue introduction from my last Hong Kong show.
Not As Lost As You Think
The chaos, mess, feelings of being lost, dislodgement, otherworldliness and one of Stephen’s favourite phrases the 'weird craziness' of his life and its encounters belies the fact that there is always an incredibly productive work schedule and a disciplined formality in Stephen Eastaugh’s artwork. I wonder, anyway, after years of his personally imposed 'chaos', that it may be a situation he quite successfully controls.
Stephen's art offers enquiry, ideas and comment as compelling as anything in a serious magazine and he plays with both tough subjects and exposes the smaller cracks in humanity's odd diversity.
His recent work is all slightly three-dimensional, predominantly using acrylic paint as background on linen and stitched thread, polyester, cotton and wool to highlight a central theme. We see fantasy, landscape, minimalism, painterly impressionism and a quirky array of surreal and invented shapes and almost-creatures.
These imaginations could be Borges-like, but despite the inevitability in the coming years of his spending more time in Argentina, the World of Eastaugh will remain stubbornly and only Eastaugh-like.
I have often been engaged with the idea of extremes in my artwork. My physical movement over the years seems to bolster this. In 1983 I hitchhiked across the Sahara desert and after extracting myself from West Africa I went camping in Iceland. My studio in Antarctica was geographically balanced by boarding an Icebreaker to the North Pole. I have wandering through Broome’s burning red pindan desert-beaches and Ladahki temples on Himalayan peaks, watched tropical storms in Bangkok and bounced on 15 metre waves south of Patagonia. It is not very surprising that I have used titles such as:-
Sacred and bored
Someone wanted to marry me and someone wanted to kill me
Why this melding of opposites, combining BITTER-SWEET extremes, joining ideas that are miles apart or just differing? By placing two odd elements together that are opposed or at least not cohesive as a unit I create a kind of oxymoron. I mark out extreme conceptual boundaries with contradictory titles and contrasting PRETTY-MESSY or AWFULLY-NICE images. This creates an absurd and sometimes SERIOUSLY-HUMOROUS space where the mind can run wild exploring all the terrain between two distant poles. Between the domestic and the exotic we can find a lot of CLEARLY-AMBIGUOUS activity and plenty of landscape. This STRANGELY-FAMILIAR space is where I ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE park my MOBILE-HOME. It is where I drink a DRY-MARTINI on my non-stop WORKING-HOLIDAY and I feel as if I am STILL-MOVING somewhere.