Backwoods Gallery
More than a gallery

Stephen Ives

Backwoods Gallery artist Stephen Ives. Architect of fantastic worlds. Through a language of seemingly cool and indifferent symbols, Stephen Ives presents us with a colour-coded manual to the human psyche. However, upon reading these symbols, you quickly realise that there is nothing cool or indifferent about the contents spelt therein. Through the poetry of his language, Stephen bares the naked confessions of an honest mind, brutally uncompromising and universally relatable. Working mostly in illustration and a form of sculpture that Stephen refer to as ‘bricolage’, his metaphors are blended with artistry and flawless technique into a dreamscape reminiscent of the Franco-Belgian Bande dessinée and the early surrealists. You are reminded of your first love, your secret identities and the things of which you dare not speak.

 

Stephen Ives

Architect of fantastic worlds.

Through a language of seemingly cool and indifferent symbols, Stephen Ives presents us with a colour-coded manual to the human psyche.

However, upon reading these symbols, you quickly realise that there is nothing cool or indifferent about the contents spelt therein. Through the poetry of his language, Stephen bares the naked confessions of an honest mind, brutally uncompromising and universally relatable.

Working mostly in illustration and a form of sculpture that Stephen refer to as ‘bricolage’, his metaphors are blended with artistry and flawless technique into a dreamscape reminiscent of the Franco-Belgian Bande dessinée and the early surrealists. You are reminded of your first love, your secret identities and the things of which you dare not speak.


Exhibitions by Stephen Ives

2017, The Resistible Rise of a Bear of Little Brain

Stephen Ives, employs a rare level of expert craftsmanship to present an unfiltered and lucid exploration of his brilliant imagination. Ives' subconscious pours free-style poetry into his sculptures and illustrations, lacing his work with a playful language of archetypal symbols and colours.

As his audience, we are free to enjoy the surreal, superficial brilliance of a B17 Bomber with a baby's face or a gun turret placed in dissected eyeball. However, if we choose to delve deeper into his work there is hidden meaning in each and every detail, waiting for us to decipher.

Ives describes his work as 'bricolage', a French term, recently popularised by artists such as Tom Sachs and mockingly employed to affect a pretentious air upon a style of art that essentially uses found objects or sometimes even just junk. Stephen Ives brings a new level of abstraction to the tradition by working with discarded toys, cut-up and expertly resculpted and repurposed. The inherent cultural references that the toys lend each sculpture is actually where the symbolic subtext of Ives’ work is most apparent. If his subconscious is talking to us through his art, his inner child is without doubt the ring leader.

On July 7th, Stephen Ives is opening ‘The Resistible Rise of a Bear of Little Brain’, a pseudo-historical war museum at Backwoods Gallery. Running until July 23rd, the collection of dioramic sculptures, historic sketches and priceless war paraphernalia recounts the key events in the darkest chapter of recent fictional history, ‘The Great Pooh War’. The megalomaniacal transformation of Winnie the Pooh from silly old bear to vicious dictator poised to take possession of the one hundred acre woods.

More than a fictional universe which has been developing in Ives' head since 2002, ‘The Great Pooh War’ is a stern warning of the dangers inherent in the lust for power and honey. It is a tale of what happens when the seams of society come undone and madness takes hold, with an absolutely uncanny similarity to our own world. Go figure.

It is also, of course, a brilliantly conceived and executed, absurdist exhibition of fantastically detailed sculptures, illustration and installations by an artist who we consider a treasure to the Australian art scene and who we are extremely proud to work with.

2015, Bleak

Artist Statement:

This is the only writing I'm willing to put together as explanation for the individual works. They are more like elemental forces, they stand alone as experiential, emotional motifs that have to be felt personally by the viewer as well as investigated on a conceptual, mental level. That is how they were for me in the feeling and making. They are the individual but also all related. Be open to the work. Let it operate on you on a level other than words.

backwoods-gallery-artist-stephen-ives-exhibition-fragment

2015, Fragment

Following Stephen Ive’s jaw dropping exhibition BLEAK, we will be presenting a one weekend only show of illustrations from the depths of Stephen’s mind and the pages of a lost graphic novel, FRAGMENT.

Stephen Ives is best known for his sculptural works but from a very early age he only drew. Early childhood influences were the comic books of Asterix and Obelix and Tintin, later came the legendary Jean Giraud (Moebius) and Frank Frazetta later still masters of line and print such as Félix Vallotton, Hokusai, Milo Manara, Lyonel Feininger, Egon Schiele and Heinrich Kley.

Here now he celebrates those first loves and despite his inability to write clear narrative has pulled together a kaleidoscope of images some reworked from old ideas, some new, some plays on classic favourites to bring you FRAGMENT, drawings from a lost graphic novel.

2013, Hero

Through a language of seemingly cool and indifferent symbols, Stephen Ives presents us with a colour-coded manual to the human psyche.

However, upon reading these symbols, you quickly realize that there is nothing cool or indifferent about the contents spelt therein. Through the poetry of his language, Stephen bares the naked confessions of an honest mind, brutally uncompromising and universally relatable.

Working mostly in illustration and a form of sculpture that Stephen refer to as 'bricolage', his metaphors are blended with artistry and flawless technique into a dreamscape reminiscent of the Franco-Belgian Bande dessinée and the early surrealists. You are reminded of your first love, your secret identities and the things of which you dare not speak.

For HERO, his second solo exhibition at Backwoods Gallery, Stephen Ives explores the relate-ability of his introspection and the idea that we are all heroes in our own comics - divided by the pages of our subjective experience, occasionally drawn and scripted by different artists, but ultimately linked through the commonalities of the human condition.

Through a series of sculptured Action Figures complete with accessories and packaging, Stephen presents fractured moments of his own story, the various roles he has played and the other heroes and villains that he has encountered.

backwoods-gallery-artist-stephen-ives-exhibition-jet-babies

2012, Jet Babies