There is a graphic intensity to Josh Yeldham’s latest works that is rarely if ever seen in contemporary art. This is the work of both an obsessive artisan and a potent visionary. This is the stuff of dreams made solid, carved impeccably, stroke by miniscule stroke, tethering the smoky regions of memory and mind onto a solid surface.
Each of us will see out own dreams here. We will try and grapple with why these images seem so immediately recognisable and then realise we have never seen them before outside of somnambulistic flights of fantasy. We will think of the iconography of Eastern mysticism only to realise that this is a ruse it may be an influence but these images are very much Yeldham’s own.
For quite a time mysticism was a dirty word in contemporary (postmodern) culture. It was the stuff of perhaps misguided 60s pseudo revolution. But, world-wide, we see a re-emergence of considerations of spirituality. We see it here in Australia in the contemporary artworks of such artists as Tim Johnson and Peter Daverington. And, with the threat of environmental meltdown, we see a reconsideration of nature as a potent force.
Yeldham’s works have long been an exploration of his immediate environment. He has an eagle-eye for detail. Each blade of swamp grass is recorded in memory and transported back to the studio where his sharp blade begins the task of transcribing the days visions. But that is only the beginning. With what seems a strange sense of urgency, Yeldham then begins the task of building up a palimpsest of imagery, driven by the exotic musical notes that conclude his paintings.
Of course they are not paintings per se. But nor are they sculptures as we have come to know that term. Technically these works are truly unique, beautiful hybrids of craft and vision. Technically they are works by a youthful master.
River Song (2010) catalogue essay by Ashley Crawford