In 1969 Col Jordan wrote:
My paintings are about paradox. Visual embodiments of literal impossibility. A work good to the extent that it reconciles irreconcilables. Daedalus is about directions, tied down and boxed by the stripes of its own identity.
The work referred to was Daedalus Series 6, now held in the National Gallery of Australia, but first exhibited in 1968 in the landmark exhibition The Field in Melbourne. The painting’s shaped boundary suggests a three dimensional form, which is contradicted by the flattening effect of a kaleidoscope of boldly coloured stripes. In Greek mythology Daedalus was the creator of the maze-like labyrinth at the Palace Knossos in Crete, in which the legendary Minotaur, part man, part pull, was kept. As many of Jordan’s works are like a complicated maze it’s tempting to view him as a kind of cunning Daedalus, creator of visual puzzles and enigmas. The complex abstract images he has been making since the mid 1960s reveal a consistent concern with paradox that reflects both the wonder and uncertainty of the human condition. Jordan strives to reconcile the irreconcilable, bringing into dynamic tension opposing forces of structural order and romantic feeling.
Today, Jordan is one of the few Field artists who continue to work in a way consistent with the original principles of the hard-edge Colour Field stlye: large-scale, flat expanses of colour and a minimum of surface detail. He still uses masking tape. Yet within these parameters he remains committed to the possibilities of hard-edge abstraction, finding within its stylistic limitations enough material to sustain an entire career.
Although Jordan’s work may seem international in outlook, there is something quintessentially Australian in its reflection of deceptive simplicities and conflicting realities. Australian culture is full of stories like Ned Kelly, stories which may seem to be simple myths yet are tied up with all kinds of conflicting ideas. For the first crucial decade of his career Jordan lived and worked in Wollongong, a multicultural, somewhat surreal juxtaposition of heavy industry, surfing beaches and rainforest. Today he lives and works in Sydney’s western suburbs where he was born and raised, an even crazier patchwork of concrete, blazing signs and raw energy. The raucous fragments of colour jostling for attention in his Mosaic series are evocative of the carnivalesque signage that lines the busy arterial road running past his studio. Like the skilful Daedelus of Greek mythology Col Jordan continues to weave his enigmatic riddles, working with undiminished passion and energy.
Michael Beare, Exhibition Curator of Col Jordan: An Active Edge, Wollongong City Gallery, 13 August – 25 September 2011
Text from catalogue essay on occasion of the exhibition.
Mossenson Galleries is proud to present the recent works of Col Jordan. The exhibition will open on Thursday 20 October 2011, 6-8pm at Mossenson Galleries Subiaco. For further information please contact the gallery on (08) 9388 2899 or email@example.com.