Down To The Well: Text
29 October 2011

Down To The Well

October 13–29, 2011
Daine Singer
Basement, 325 Flinders Lane
Melbourne VIC 3000
Australia

Simon O’Carrigan’s works span collage, drawing, painting, and animation. In all media, his works utilise a mindset drawn from the use of layers central to collage; and the compositional aims of painting. Thematically, he focuses on absurdist and existential questions. The works frequently utilise an apocalyptic tone whether global (external) or personal (internal).

Been thinking to myself and if a life’s not long
What matter does it make if there’ll be favourite songs playing in my head
When we go down to the well
—Pixies

Down to the Well channels the human yearning for salvation – both personal and religious, whether in this life or the next – how we seek to fulfil it and the tragedy of searching for salvation outside of the self. Ink on paper drawings are collaged onto wood boards, leaving parts of the board bare to the eye. The different textures and thicknesses of various layered papers builds a slight relief depth, at odds with the unseeable depths of the well.

Some of the wells depicted are equipped with ladders or other means of traversal — calling to mind Haruki Murakami’s protagonist, Toru Okada, from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Okada’s obsession with a dried up well transformed it into a means of transcendence, a mode of transport. It became a portal for Okada, both literal and metaphorical. The works in this exhibition follow the rabbit holes showing the unnerving depths within the disarmingly shallow surface — the depth of the quest for salvation that hide just beneath the surface.

The pared back appearance and the black circular interiors of the wells mime an inverted Zen enso circle. Where the Enso would act as a calming influence, a letting go, the works here function on heightened anxiety, attempts to ‘hold on’, and the fear of letting go. The works allude to the looped, repeated action of refilling at a well, intimating the patterns of life in which we are, like Sisyphus, condemned to repeat the actions in which we seek salvation.