Craig Handley is a Sydney based artist renowned for his images of suburban Australian life that playfully challenge the nuance of narrative. Handley's works are at once vibrant and subdued, busy and quiet, which is where their intrigue lies. Handley's pieces depict a dichotomy between what is known and what is unknown, as well as what is normal and what is bizarre. The space between these places has come to be synonymous with his washed back pastel palette. Paired together these elements certify his status as a master storyteller through painting.
Exhibition Dates: 26 July – 12 August 2017
Opening Drinks: Wednesday 26 July 2017, 6 – 8pm
The iconic traits of Craig Handley's works are clearly visible in his latest exhibition, The Trappings. In this collection the narrative focal point retains its ambiguity in a present and future context. Handley conveys this clearly in The Trappings 2018. Viewers see a house perched on a sandy beach with a couch placed outside and a set of stairs that stretch out beyond the confines of the canvas, leading to a place we cannot see. The stairs seem foreboding, however one cannot help but be curious as to where they might lead. Similarly, the ocean waves in the background are inviting as much as they are ominous. By skewing perspective in this way, Handley's paintings successfully create a subtle and deceptive sense of mystery that crosses the borders of time.
The largest work in the series, Funland 2017 echoes The Trappings 2018 in symbolism and storytelling techniques. In this work Handley uses a flat washed back pastel palette to reveal part of a story whilst allowing viewers to decide which direction the story takes. In this piece the wall of an amusement park fill the foreground. The sheer scale of the wall is exaggerated by a small figure at the base of a ladder jutted against it. Glimpses of the rides and attractions sit closely behind the wall whilst aluminium balloons merge with large fluffy clouds set in the background. The effect of Handley's flat perspective and imagery draws viewers into the piece and creates a sense of mystery. Viewers cannot help but wonder what the full picture is behind the wall: what can the birds see from their vantage point above? What awaits at the base of the slide in the paintings centre?
The Trappings cements Craig Handley's ability to conjure the relationship between the present and the future in it's beauty and uncertainty. Using his celebrated technique of revealing fragments of a tale through a washed out palette, The Trappings showcases Handley's creative skill and unquestionable talent at recreating the world we live in with a dystopian twist.
Words by Claire Dalgleish, Sydney-based visual arts writer and curator
The Trappings opens on Wednesday 26 July 2017, 6 - 8pm, and runs until Saturday 12 August 2017.