Western Australian artist Jon Denaro is passionate about using found objects that guide his creative journey to the unique art piece that results. It is the making process itself that Jon values most above and beyond the finished piece. This leaves the viewer with a sense of purity, as if the artworks are using Jon as a vessel to be created, to be seen, to take on a new life form.
Jon Denaro finished a BA Fine Arts in Hobart in 1989 and has enjoyed numerous solo and group exhibitions since. He has shared his knowledge in many mentor and teaching positions, and has contributed greatly to the Western Australian art scene with many public and private installations.
Enjoy Getting to know Jon Denaro …
When did you first feel the desire to be artistic and realize you had talent?
I come from a background where art has uncertain value. My artistic actions are drawn from life experiences really. I just make artistic things; they don’t always make sense. I make them principally for myself. I am still trying to figure out what I’m actually doing.
Where did you learn your art?
I consider myself to be self-taught, although I studied art formally. But I have studied a lot of things including engineering. I have always held a view that art presents an alternate cultural potential, that it ‘subverts the dominant paradigm’.
What inspires you most?
The ocean, old things, stuff I find, materials that have a history. Passion. My language is a fusion of that.
What message are you sending to the viewer of your art?
I try hard not to visualize literal, linear ideas, not to communicate set narratives. My work process is about exploration throughout the actual making itself. My recent solo show ‘The texture of making’ was a recycled title from a show at the Margaret River Gallery many years ago. What I am saying is that art can escape the ties of concept or design, understandable quotes, images and icons. It is OK to to make it up as you go along on the journey. That approach is intrinsically more dangerous, more risky but more fluid with potential, I think.
Describe your studio…
I’ve had big industrial studios and now I have moved all that back to my own property. My main engineering workshop is built up from a sea container. It is like a ships store.
What mediums do you use and why?
I can work with anything. I love to find materials as a starting point. My processes are usually about adaptation from that point on.
What are you working on now?
I’m making a sculpture for the Royal Perth Ballet using old ballet shoes. I’m working on some architectural commissions, doing a series of painting where I have started including figurative elements – peoples heads very abstract. I’m also working up an alliance with a young architect Luke Davies and we will be doing a large collaborative piece for Sculpture by the Sea in March based on my love of outback-handmade road signage.
What are your recent career achievements you feel proud of?
I don’t really think that way, I try to survive my art career. That’s it. I don’t expect that people get what I do generally or that life gets more comfortable because of my careerism. I’m also self sabotaging and even destructive. My painting for example is a sculptors painting where I use industrial paints and layered morphological references. I am always going in to each new layer with a fresh idea incongruous with the existing form.
What do you love most about what you do?
Freedom. I always thought that art would equal that somehow.
Where can you see yourself in 10 years time?
Our kids will be grown up then. I visualize a life of moving about more internationally with Bec, but staying productive on our own terms.