“Art and creativity are at the core of my newfound self – to find this passion in a field of endless possibilities is like winning the lotto over and over again. I love the fearlessness and freedom in the work.”
It’s precisely this fearlessness and freedom that Australian art sensation Nathan Paddison discovered through the process of creating art while incarcerated on and off for 12 years of his young life. “Art saved my life -- it’s why I made it out alive.” As a self-taught artist who has only been painting seriously for the last 4 years from his home on the scenic North Coast of Australia, Nathan Paddison is one of the most sought-after emerging contemporary painters working today. Raw and witty, the artist paints his experiences looking through the eyes of someone he’s become. However, in every painting, Paddison also channels the experiences of his troubled past through bold color, language and larger than life characters. “I paint anything in my life from animals and childhood icons that I love to people from my past and present. I always use a lens of distortion to try and show their inner personality rather than the more superficial, outside appearance. I am especially pre-occupied artistically with the struggle of addiction.”
Working with acrylic, spray paint, charcoal, and oil stick, the painter’s street art style, both naïve and emotional, recalls the Art Brut movement, along with Paddison’s greatest artistic loves -- Basquiat, Picasso and Twombly. The artist paints with explosive energy and abandon, approaching every canvas with a sense of urgency and physicality as if something vital inside of the artist is craving expression without fear or restraint. The result is raw, original, gestural, and simplistic in nature. His style is marked by a flat rendering of childlike imagery; familiar figures that one might come across in a children’s book or a young adult adventure novel; menacing cats with large eyes, sharp-toothed Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaurs, and caricatures of kings and queens from a deck of playing cards. His playful use of words in titling works featuring dinosaurs, “Tie No Saw Ass” and cats “Kit TT Cat” and his enjoyment of playing games is also a defining characteristic of his work. This extremely clever re-imagining of the English language make viewers both laugh out loud and pause.
Beyond the figurative forms, much of Paddison’s inspiration comes from his struggles with substance abuse and addiction. If art can be considered therapy, then a Nathan Paddison painting is a piece of the artist’s personal journey – a mark of the flawed and yet remarkable human experience that we share. Paddison said: “Knowing that I have my art as my outlet to express myself is the ultimate freedom.”
Nathan Paddison has exhibited all over Australia, Europe and Asia in numerous solo and group shows. His most recent awards include The Kilgour Prize 2021 Art Gallery of Newcastle and The Lester Prize Art Gallery of Western Australia 2021.