A necessary struggle - Regional News | Connecting Wellington
Neap tide by Tom Sladden, 2020 | Issue 193

Neap tide by Tom Sladden, 2020

A necessary struggle by Alessia Belsito-Riera

Tom Sladden says he likes to make his process difficult: “my surfaces are hard to work on and generally need a bit of patching up, my brushes are cheap and worn out. Putting paint onto a surface is a bit self-indulgent, anyone can do it.” He feels the need for humility, saying “I’m fond of simple credos. Frank Stella once said, ‘there are only two things you need to know, what to paint and how to paint it.’”

Light Air, Sladden’s newest exhibition, is on at Bowen Galleries until the 30th of April. This series of paintings began at the start of the first lockdown. Figurative paintings by the Irish abstract painter Sean Scully pushed him to “dive into the archives” and explore some Super 8 footage from the 60s and 70s his dad took. Looking at the 12 paintings now, Sladden says, “there seems to be an air of defiance and stoicism inherent in many of the figures. They appear to be on the edge of something new and big, a frontier land of sorts.”

He says inspiration comes from everywhere. “You need to identify it and act on it. It’s important to make mistakes. Most of my painting time is spent trying to repair those. When they are irreparable that can be inspiring also.”

“One thing I do know is that you can’t chase it down with a sharpened stick.”

Sladden wants Light Air visitors to get “right up close, nose almost touching, so they can see the problems faced and dealt with. Then stand back and say something like, ‘I could have done that!’ That would be a nice way to bring us all together!”

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